Wedding Event Music Licensing Easy, Just Follow These 7 Tips

April 16, 2014

In the midst of crazy severe weather all over the country (we had 20” of flooding rains during one storm this month), all the beauty of spring is finally bursting forth and love is taking center stage.

More than 35% of all weddings take place between June and August. Many churches provide the perfect setting for all the activities surrounding the ceremony of marital vows…showers, receptions and  engagement parties to name a heart

Can you imagine all the wedding festivities without music?  The silence would be deafening. Music is a vital part of these joyful activities, so it’s important to include copyright licensing on your church wedding checklist. The great news is that it’s very easy and simple to get comprehensive licensing in place. Here are some practical tips to make sure your church has music licensing coverage in place.

#1 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.

The religious service exemption of the U.S. Copyright Law (Section 110[3]) states:

“performance of a non-dramatic literary or musical work or of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly” shall not constitute infringement of copyright.

The exemption does not apply to music being performed or played outside a religious service for activities such as concerts, parties, wedding receptions, dinners, social events, fundraisers, etc.  A performance license is required and a simple solution is provided with CCS’s one-stop PERFORMmusic blanket license, which covers more than 17 million Christian and secular songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, including the “bride and groom’s special love song.”

Tip #2. The performance rights organizations (PROs), ASCAP, BMI and SESAC want to directly license the venue or the facility where events are held featuring music. It is not the responsibility of the event planner or person putting on the program, such as the wedding party, to have performance licenses in place. The good news is that churches (and any non-profit religious venue) can get immediate and comprehensive coverage through thePERFORMmusic license, and you don’t have to get licenses directly from each PRO. Fees start as low as $199/year.

Tip #3. If anyone in the wedding party wants to make audio or audiovisual recordings of the wedding, reception, or any other activity, they are responsible for obtaining proper licensing to use music in their recordings. It is not the responsibility of the church to do so, unless you are making the recordings for them. If the couple is hiring a videographer, then he or she would be responsible for music licensing.

Tip #4. If any of your church musicians and singers are performing during any events, you or the wedding couple may need to have them sign and consent and release form to record their performances on any recordings.

Tip #5. If you include song lyrics in programs, the church or the wedding couple may need to obtain print licenses for reproduction of song lyrics. If the songs are in the CCLI program, your basic church license would cover this activity, but if they are secular songs, you would need to obtain permission from each song copyright owner. CCS’s PERMISSIONSplus provides resource information on how to obtain licensing from song publishers and record labels.

If you have any additional questions about licensing for wedding activities, you can talk to one of our Copyright Solvers at 1-855-576-5837 or use our Live Chat feature in the bottom right corner of our website.

Tip #6. If you want to stream any of the wedding activities on your website that include copyrighted music, you will need a streaming license and you can obtain the WORSHIPcast license that covers 17 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for immediate coverage. Annual fees start as low as $225.

Tip #7. Once you have all of your performance rights licenses in place, relax and savor the joy and beauty of  one your church’s most jubilant celebrations.

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 and Pinterest.

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

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