Music Copyright License FAQs
August 11, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions:
Select a question to jump to the answer.
A license is required by law for anyone (including churches) to print/project/record/livestream music. These licenses are required for the same reason we pay for music that we download from iTunes/Spotify. This isn’t just about checking boxes and following the law (although those things are important, too!), it’s about ensuring that artists are compensated for their work and can continue to produce the wonderful music we all enjoy. If we don’t license and report each song’s usage, then that artist doesn’t get paid.
Unfortunately, with the way these licenses work, the conference cannot purchase a blanket license for all churches. Each church must purchase its own license(s), as needed.
Note: The conference has music licenses to cover conference- and district-sponsored events. If you are hosting a conference- or district-sponsored event, please contact Training and Resource Specialist Havaleh Havelka for more information about utilizing the conference licenses.
If you do any of the following, you need a license:
- Print music or lyrics in a bulletin
- Print music or lyric handouts
- Print and distribute songbooks
- Project music or lyrics onto a screen/monitor
- Livestream worship services or events that include live music performances (e.g., soloist, choir, praise band, etc.)
- Record worship services or events that include music and share the video online
The two most common music licenses used in our churches are One License and Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). These companies provide licenses for churches to print music/lyrics, project them onto a screen, or record worship/events where music is being performed.
You might need one or both licenses to cover your worship services and church-sponsored events. Our recommendation is to look at the songs you have been using to see if they are covered by these licenses. For example, if you only use songs from our hymnal, then you only need One License. Please note that these two licensing companies do not cover every song in the world; these are just the two most commonly used licenses by our churches.
Each licensing company offers a variety of options depending on your church size and licensing needs. The basic annual licenses cover churches for printing lyrics/music or projecting lyrics/music onto a screen for in-person worship/events. If you are livestreaming or recording your services/events and posting the recordings online, you will need streaming licenses. Streaming licenses cover livestreaming or sharing video recordings on your website/social media.
- One License: Annual license + Podcast/Streaming license starts at $185/year (https://www.onelicense.net/options-and-prices)
- CCLI: Church Copyright License + Streaming license starts at $143/year (https://us.ccli.com/copyright-license/#pricing)
If you livestream or record the worship/event and share the video online, yes -- you need a streaming license. If you sing common songs from memory or teach songs through call and response/repeat and are not livestreaming or recording, you do not need a license.
We hired a musician/band to lead worship and they want to project/print lyrics. Do we need a license?
If the band is using songs they’ve written, then no licensing is required. If the musician/band does not have licensing of their own (and has those license numbers with the lyrics), then your music license(s) would need to be utilized.
- If you don't see the song/publisher listed for those licenses, you can search for the song's copyright owner or license holder online.
- If you find the song covered by another license, you need to obtain that license to utilize the song.
- If you don't find the song covered by any license, you can contact the song's writer and/or publisher to request permission.
- If you do not obtain a license or express written permission to utilize the song, it cannot be printed/projected/livestreamed/recorded.
Click here to learn more about this topic.
Similar to music licensing, you need proper licensing to show a movie in a public setting (e.g., worship or a special event such as a movie night). Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI) is a licensing service for movies. Their event license pricing is based upon attendance numbers.
CVLI does not cover all movies. Check their producer listings for their total package or family values package to ensure that the producer of the film you'd like to show is included in their licensing. If the film you'd like to show is not covered by CVLI, you will need to find the license-holder.
Note: Similar to music permissions, you shouldn't just copy and paste any image, GIF, video, etc. you find on the internet. You should only use materials you have permission to use.
Below are some websites where you can download royalty-free materials:
Additional questions about licenses?One License, CCLI, and CVLI representatives are very kind and helpful. They will be able to answer more specific questions about what their licenses provide and which specific license best fits your church's needs.
You Might Also Like