Streaming your worship services legally | Everything you need to know

Streaming your worship services legally | Everything you need to know

Here at Musicademy and Worship Backing Band, we’ve had calls and emails daily about the legality of using worship songs in online services.

People are very confused about the different licenses, and the new Streaming Plus License that CCLI has created.

I decided to chat to our friends at CCLI and asked them to point us to some resources that clarify the situation. Below you will find links to the CCLI pages concerning streaming as well as a couple of articles that they have approved as accurate.

CCLI’s information on streaming and our licence and prices:

This article by Chris Juby has also been UK CCLI-approved. It is very comprehensive and should answer any other questions you may have. Be aware that it pre-dates the Streaming Plus license.

The TL;DL (Too Long Didn’t Read) Highlights

Streaming a song on line is different in licensing terms terms to singing it in church.

Streaming a song when singing it live is different to streaming a backing track (in this instance you would need permission from the backing track provider such as Musicademy or Worship Backing Band – we are happy to  give those permissions for our tracks so long as you are reporting use to CCLI and if embedded to your website a link back to by way of a credit).

When you also have on-screen words, there are additional license requirements

Facebook and YouTube live streams can be stopped if you are using songs that you are not licensed to use (however, even with CCLI’s live stream license which additionally covers Zoom streams, there is no way in which Facebook or YouTube can identify if you have a license or not – however we find that their detection systems for worship songs are relatively poor at identifying licensed music).

Songs that you can perform on a stream without a licence:

  • Public domain hymns (which is when the authors died 70+ years ago) *there are a few exceptions
  • Songs that you have written yourself
  • Spontaneous songs
  • Songs or backing tracks which the Publisher has given you permission to stream (eg Worship Backing Band)

Songs you need a license for:

To stream live worship of songs in copyright (where your musicians are performing songs) on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram:

You just need the CCLI Streaming Plus licence. But as explained above you run a small risk of your stream being taken down even when you’re licensed – there’s no way around that.

For streaming using Zoom (in the UK) you need a PRS LOML Licence.

To stream live worship anywhere else (eg hosted on your own website):

You need the CCLI Streaming licence for the video and to show lyrics, plus (in the UK) a PRS Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) to cover the performance.

Where can we get backing tracks for streaming?

Worship Backing Band‘s resources are ideal. The low cost Split Tracks with on-screen words and full backing tracks are very easy to use with streaming and we are happy for you to use them in this manner (just report via CCLI for their use as you usually would).

If you choose any of the older hymns (with the exception of How Great Thou Art) they are out of copyright so in the public domain. You can do anything you like with these without a license and without fear of your live stream being curtailed. You can see the full song list here. Click on any of the songs to see publishing information. If it says “Public Domain” you are free to use them without a CCLI or PRS license.

Do also check out this article on Worship Backing Band:

Using Worship Backing Band for Livestreaming Songs [Update]