Christmas Programming & Music Licensing

November 22, 2019

A lot goes into planning your church Christmas programs, and even with the best-laid plans, we know that it can become overwhelming at times. Securing music licensing often falls to the bottom of the to-do list because it tends to be the most confusing. You may even wonder if you need licensing? 

While the Religious Service Exemption (RSE) allows churches to play and perform music in their regular place of worship, that exemption does not extend to recording/copying a musical work OR playing/performing music outside of a service, including streaming. This is especially important during the Christmas season when music is a vital part of programming!  

One of the most powerful allies you can have when using copyrighted works is a blanket license. There are several available that meet the needs of churches and ministries and allow churches to use a catalog of copyrighted works for one fee. Let’s take a closer look at a few blanket licenses that are beneficial to your church.   

Performance Licensing   

When you play or perform music outside of your religious service, your church or organization will require a performance license, just like any other business or organization. There are two different performance licenses to cover music.   

CCS’s PERFORMmusic Facilities License allows your church to play and perform more than 25 million songs anywhere in your facilities or satellite campuses, even traveling with your church to offsite events. The uses are many, so we’ve outlined a few here:   

  • Onsite Facilities – Play music before and after services in your foyer, café or bookstore.  Even your on-hold telephone feature is covered. 
  • Social & Outreach Events – Use live or pre-recorded music at Christmas bazaars, holiday mixers, football viewing parties, and more.   
  • Adult & Children’s Ministry – Perform or incorporate music during Christmas programs, retreats, bible study classes, and volunteer youth groups.    
  • Satellite Campuses & Offsite Events – Your license travels to other campuses and covers offsite events.  Perfect for all your Christmas events! 

The CCS WORSHIPcast Streaming License allows you to stream your worship services, special events and guest performances of these same 25 million songs, including secular Christmas music, on your website. This does not include pre-recorded music. 

Reproduction Licensing 

As mentioned above the RSE does not include “reproducing, such as a recording, or copying of a music work.” That is where the CCLI Copyright License is vital. With this reproduction license your church can make copies of more than 300,000 Christian songs to assist with congregational singing, and may be used as follows:     

  • Copy songs from hymnals, websites, chorus books and similar types of publications   
  • Print songs in bulletins, liturgies, programs, song sheets, songbooks compiled by your church, overhead transparencies, and slides   
  • Electronically store, retrieve and utilize song files in computers, presentation software, and similar resources to enable the visual projection of songs   
  • Record songs in your live worship services, including meditations, preludes, postludes, interludes, fanfares, and handbell, vocal and instrumental specials, by either audio or audio-visual mean (see complete details here)   

As a pastor, worship leader, or creative arts director, you probably know the feeling of scrambling at the 11th hour around the holidays trying to obtain copyright clearances. Ensuring your church has the right licensing in place is crucial, and blanket licenses make it simple. Still unclear? Contact one of our copyright consultants by chat, phone, or e-mail.  

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.”  CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches. Follow us onTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Youtube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. 

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