Wedding Festivities Without Music?

May 27, 2015

The long winter is finally thawing out in most parts of the country, and all the beauty of spring is bursting forth with love 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 few.

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 with the PERFORMmusic License. Here are some practical tips to make sure your church has music licensing coverage in place.

#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 (reproducing or copying music is not exempt and does require permission).

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.

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 exemption does not apply to music being performed or played outside a religious service for activities such as concerts, parties, 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 20 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 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 the PERFORMmusic license, and you don’t have to get licenses directly from each PRO. Fees start as low as $299/year, and the PERFORMmusic License is the ONLY one-stop performance license for church and ministry facilities…plus, it can used all year long for tons of events and programs.

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 events, you or the wedding couple may need to have them sign a consent and release form to capture and copy their performances on any recordings (CD or DVD).

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, their CCLI church license would cover this activity, but if they are secular songs, you will need to obtain permission from each song copyright owner.

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 your church can obtain the WORSHIPcast license that covers 20 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 your church’s summer season 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 TwitterFacebook. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel

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