I Dropped CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing Inc)

An article by Nick Alexander

For almost two decades, I have been a responsible itinerant church musician, worship leader, and songwriter.  Part of that equation has always been attaining a license to Christian Copyright Licensing Inc. (CCLI for short)... 

When I was first getting started playing for different groups, such as parishes, youth rallies, prayer groups, young adult groups, healing masses, etc., I always had my CCLI license to ensure that the songs I had covered had been legally protected. I would insist that if you are in this boat, you, too, must comply and be ensured that your status is active.

However, the last eighteen months I have been helming the Prayer Meeting Podcast, it was decided early on that I had to forgo the vast majority of worship songs in my repertoire. This is because CCLI does not offer an option to use their songs in a podcast format. (Except that they do: they require that the songs themselves be sung live in the context of an actual worship service). Due to the constraints of my setup (my studio can only fit one person, maybe two), that was simply not going to happen.

So I took a deep breath and made a decision, right then and there, to use non-copyright-protected songs. That is, songs in the public domain, written before 1922. Or, songs for which there is no author attibution: many of these are either spirituals, or simple praise songs written with no pretense to make money off of these. Or, my own songs, or songs from my friends. Or, songs from the indie songwriting community who just want to get their songs out there, and are happy to forgo this as well.

I am now nearly forty episodes in, have had formats changed multiple times, and am now including music notation with every single episode. You would think that I would be wearing thin on my song selection. Not a chance.

The vast majority of old hymns considered to be well-known today probably, by my own estimation, count among three dozen. This doesn’t include seasonal favorites (like Christmas carols). Some of these old hymns are only familiar because a contemporary artist has discovered it, added their own signature chorus to it, recorded it, published it, and copyrighted it. And good for them...

Read the rest of the story on Nick's site: www.nickalexander.com/2013/12/12/ccli/