Common FAQs About Music at Church Spring Events Like Graduation

May 19, 2016

Summer is on the horizon, but churches are still immersed in special Spring programs, like graduation celebrations, dances, concerts, fundraisers and wedding receptions. Church facilities are ideal for hosting many festive events, but what about the legalities of playing and performing music?

Here are a few common FAQs about featuring music at special spring programs.

Q: If we play or perform music at a church or ministry graduation event, do we need to licensing?

A: The US Copyright Law Religious Service Exemption only applies to music performed during a religious service, so even if you have your graduation event in the church building or facilities, you will need to obtain performance licensing for the music you play or perform.  CCS’s PERFORMmusic License provides easy, immediate and affordable performance blanket coverage for 20 million songs (Christian and secular) from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, and annual fees are based on the congregational size of your church, starting as low as $229.

Q: What licensing is required to legally play or perform music at a wedding ceremony and the reception?

A: Here’s a two-part answer.

1) The wedding ceremony held in a church would probably be considered a religious service, and therefore would not require licensing or permission to play or perform the music because of the Exemption (reproducing or copying music is not exempt and does require permission or a license).

2) Playing or performing music outside a religious service requires performance rights licenses. This includes live performance of music by singers and musicians, as well as playing recorded music, including a DJ’s plays, IF it is considered a public event. The PERFORMmusic License would cover most any song that would be featured at a wedding reception or social event, including the bride and groom’s special love song.

Q: If we’re hosting a fundraising dinner in the church as for our summer youth mission trip and feature music, do we need licensing?

A: Inviting church members and friends to a fun evening of good food, entertainment and music is a great way to raise funds to support youth activities and mission trips. Because it is outside your church worship service, it would be considered a public performance and require licensing from the song owners or their agents. General licensing is available for this type of event from the three performance rights organizations in the US: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. A simpler and easier solution for churches and ministries is CCS’s PERFORMmusic License, which starts as low as $229 for annual coverage.

These are just a few of the spring activities where churches often feature music. Once you have PERFORMmusic License in place, you’re free to to follow your creativity and be compliant…legally play or perform more than 20 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC throughout your facilities and satellite campuses.

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, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on TwitterFacebook 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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