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Music Copyright and the Church

Before I became Christian, I didn’t think much about copyright.  It seemed pretty straightforward to me: if you created something, shouldn’t you be entitled to exclusive rights over it, whether it’s a logo, an invention, or a song?  If what you created was used by others commercially, shouldn’t you be entitled to a share of the profits?  Entering the world of contemporary Christian music, however, I was thrown for a loop.  With worship teams technically operating as nonprofit cover bands in churches worldwide, how did Christian artists manage copyright of their creative works?  Were they interpreting Acts 4:32 literally and allowing free use of their music, or were churches paying massive royalties every week?  More importantly, should copyright law even apply to music whose main purpose is to glorify God?

For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. —1 Cor. 9:9-10

If the Christian artist is “the one who plows” and the church is “the one who threshes,” then CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) is the organization that supports both, ensuring fair sharing of the harvest.  For churches, CCLI provides unlimited access to SongSelect, a massive database of worship music complete with powerful search tools, streaming audio, and accurate sheet music that can be transposed, downloaded, and printed for licensed use in worship services—all for a single annual fee, which varies depending on the size of each church.  This fee enables CCLI to provide artists with free church copyright administration, and even pay royalties to artists whose songs are most frequently used.

For us, an unsigned band without the resources of a record label, CCLI not only provides the means to manage legal use of our music, but it also enables us to reach a vast network of churches through the SongSelect database.  If five or more churches report copy usage for our songs, CCLI will add the corresponding chord charts and lead sheets to SongSelect.  We’re very grateful when people buy our music, and we’re humbled when people enjoy it, but ultimately what we want is for people to use our music.  So if you’re a worship leader or music director planning to use our music for worship service, please help us out by reporting your usage!

Thanks & Updates

Thank you to everyone who came out to hear us on Friday!  We had a lot of fun, and it was such an encouragement to see people get into the hymns and sing with us as the night went on.  Thanks also to Aileen Lee and Vanna Chan for joining us as guest singers, and Mississauga Chinese Baptist Church for hosting the event.

Now that we’re officially back from hiatus, here’s a sneak peek at what’s in the works for the coming months:

  • “Yesterday, Today, Forever” songbook with lead sheets and chord charts for all 10 songs
  • new Youtube videos
  • more gigs!

Stay tuned for more details!

‘Tis The Reason

'Tis the ReasonLast night when I was worshipping with the College/University fellowship at SCommAC, this image came up on the lyrics powerpoint. It immediately struck me because the juxtaposition of wreath and thorny crown reminded me of a similar dichotomy I’ve been feeling since the release of our debut album. For ten months, the Hymn Remix Project had been my life: whether it was songwriting, planning, practicing, recording, or rehearsing, I was doing what I’d been called to do. Then suddenly it was over, and I found myself face-to-face with a crush of pre-holiday to-do’s that felt meaningless by comparison. Don’t get me wrong – I love the family gatherings and tremendous fellowship dinners, and I’m glad to bless people with thoughtful (or at least practical) gifts. But with all the shopping and festivities, it’s easy to forget just how profound an occasion Christmas truly is.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  – Philippians 2:5-7

Christ wasn’t merely ‘born’. In coming to earth, he left his rightful place in heaven; in becoming human, he became subservient to God the Father and made himself nothing. So when we celebrate Christmas, we aren’t just celebrating Jesus’ birthday – we’re celebrating the ultimate act of humility in the entire history of mankind.

Kinda puts the holidays in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

Anyway, since this is probably our last update until 2013, we want to close off the year by officially thanking everyone for the incredible amount of support and positive feedback we’ve received. We are grateful and humbled each time someone comes up to tell us that a particular track is their favourite, that they really like a certain chorus, or simply because they want to buy a CD. We also have one more video – a documentary short about the Hymn Remix Project: the vision behind it, how the music came together, and testimony of how God can use ordinary people in extraordinary ways.

Thank you from all of us, and have a blessed Christmas holiday :)