Giving Music Life

January 16, 2014

It all started with a phone call from Rick Muchow, Saddleback worship pastor and songwriter, asking for HELP with copyrights. That phone call turned into our CALLING at CCS to serve the Church by honoring and blessing songwriters through simplified music licensing. Almost 14 years later, we continue to see the gift of fresh, anointed and relevant songs being birthed in the Christian community, as songwriters are supported in their calling.

Since 2001, CCS’s quest has focused on helping churches and ministries by educating them and creating simple and easy solutions for music licensing that honors the rights of songwriters . We want to make sure writers and publishers get paid revenue for the use of their songs. When church leaders “do music right,” they empower songwriters by supporting their ministries, which results in an even greater flow of new music for the church.

Our CCS blog focuses a great deal on education and information. I have always believed that it’s vital for church leaders to understand the basics of Copyright Law and how it impacts the legal use of music in their church activities. At the same time, it’s critical that everyone at CCS “knows why we do what we do” each day. Every staff member at CCS is a worshiper, and many are musicians, songwriters and worship leaders. At the heart of all of our education, information and licensing is our passionate desire to support songwriters and creatives.

There are heated debates in today’s culture about whether or not the Copyright Law strangles creativity or  rewards originality…enriches a few people or provides the backbone of our knowledge economy. No matter which side you’re on, one thing is clear, songwriters must have regular income in order to devote themselves wholehearted to their vocation…making music.

Throughout centuries prior to the Copyright Law, musicians and artists have traveled a bumpy road striving to find means to support their vocations. Few have flourished and many have garnered very little income for their work, some dying in poverty.

There was a tremendous creative outpouring unleashed in certain European cities and countries during the Renaissance period (1400-1600) in a cultural economic environment that was void of Copyright Law but promoted by patrons, like the Church and Pope and prominent families, like the Medicis.

Exactly what was a patrons and how did they support artists?

Patrons were the clients, and during the Renaissance they were generally considered to be the true “creator” of an artwork. The patron hired the artist and specified what they wanted and how much they would spend on time and materials. Contracts between patrons and artists often stipulated the quality and quantity of the more expensive colors like gold and ultramarine, according to an article in the Renaissance Connection.

Today’s cultural economic environment is quite different, but musicians continue to develop and derive their income from multiple sources. There is a unique relationship and opportunity, however, between today’s Christian community and songwriters. There is a direct pipeline or conduit of steady revenue that is flowing from the Church to songwriters because of innovative annual music licenses that have been developed by businesses with a heart for worship and music ministries.

When I first started working in the Christian music industry (quite by accident), worship songwriters ALL had day jobs. Some were fortunate enough to have church music minister positions, but many were carpenters, software programmers and sales clerks. I didn’t know one worship songwriter who derived their livelihood from writing music…it was a passion that they kindled at night or whenever they could find time.

When unit sales for popular worship recordings skyrocketed in the mid-1980’s, quarterly song royalty payments became a surprising source of income for some writers. I distinctly remember another phone call with the author of GIVE THANKS. Through tears he explained how grateful he was to receive a recent royalty check, because it literally put food on the table and paid for repairs for his family’s only car. Henry Smith’s song later rose to #1 on the CCLI charts, and continued to bless his family.

As worship recording royalties grew and the CCLI Church License began to take hold in churches, an even greater revenue stream encouraged some writers to take the plunge and devote themselves wholeheartedly to their calling. Great art does not happen accidentally. When music flourishes there is a cultural economic terrain in which songwriters thrive. The next time you buy a church music license, like CCS’s PERFORMmusic License, or pay an invoice for music rights, you may want to take another look at the transaction you’re making. It’s a tremendous opportunity to support songwriters, who in turn will bless your church with new worship songs that proclaim the Gospel, touching and transforming hearts.

I’m so grateful for Rick Muchow’s phone that served as the springboard for CCS’s calling.  Together with the Church, we can be a catalyst and kickstart a wave of blessing for creative worship and music.

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 Twitter, Facebook. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

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