Covenant Connections

Sing a rights-cleared song to the Lord

Aug 17, 2023

“Each report we receive at ONE LICENSE turns into a royalty payment,” says Brenna Cronin, “and those payments are someone’s livelihood.”

ONE LICENSE serves more than 25,000 license holders, offering them access to more than 210,000 titles from more than 300 publishers large and small.

Do you use ONE LICENSE in your congregation? In July 2023, Steve Thorngate with Christian Century interviews Brenna C. Cronin, executive general manager for ONE LICENSE. Below is a portion of the interview including usage reports that license holders are required to submit and why it matters. To read the whole article, visit https://www.christiancentury.org/article/interviews/sing-rights-cleared-song-lord

It does seem strange for someone to go out of their way to pay for a license, only to neglect the reporting that is so integral to that license’s function. But I guess the only thing in shorter supply for a lot of church leaders than money is time.

And we know that. We ourselves are pastoral musicians, leaders in our churches, and we’re pulled in lots of different directions.

Partly for this reason, we encourage our users to catch up on their reporting when they’ve fallen behind. Submitting Christmas songs on Valentine’s Day? No problem. Does your profile page say you used music for Lent in the middle of June? It’s all right. We understand that reporting can fall behind. What matters is that you catch up.

I will say that reporting titles in the specific week they were used can really help with future planning. You can quickly find a liturgical week from a prior year and duplicate it—less work!

Once a church reports using a song, what happens? Does the copyright holder get paid a flat rate? A percentage of something?

A percentage of the whole pie. The more a title is reported, the more of the pie it earns. Even if a title is only reported once among several million other reports, it will still earn something.

So if someone pays for a license but doesn’t report their usage, the net effect is to send a tiny bit more money to the copyright holders of all the songs they didn’t choose to use instead.

In theory, yes.

That could really motivate some people I know to keep up on their reporting. The only thing they feel more strongly about than the church music they love is the church music they don’t care for.

Ha! Fair enough. This may be a good time to mention that we have checks and balances in place to know if someone is reporting something too many times.

Is that a problem that comes up? People claim to sing their friend’s song ten times a week or something?

We trust our users, and if they’re playing catch-up and reporting six weeks worth of music in one week, that’s one thing. But if the data shows a song being reported 50 times during each week of the year, that would be a problem.

You mentioned educating your customers. I’ve noticed that you offer a lot of tutorials and other help.

We have everything from simple, short videos on specific topics to full-blown webinars that dive into deeper subjects. Our team also hosts a new user webinar in the first quarter of each year and a live question and answer session each month called Call & Response. Your readers are welcome to get in touch with us if they are interested in learning more about our webinars.

I believe that people want to do the right thing, and we supply the tools to make it easy to do that. We extend our help in any way that we can—virtual meetings, screen sharing, emails, our ticketing support system, and phone calls. We are here to help make the concept of copyright and licensing not so daunting.

For the full article: https://www.christiancentury.org/article/interviews/sing-rights-cleared-song-lord

Copyright © <<2023r>> by the Christian Century. <> by <> is excerpted by permission from the <>, <<2023>>, issue of the Christian Century. To read the full article, click here.