Depending on your location, you may have to report your church's worship song activity for a 6 month period every year or every 2 1/2 years. For years now, you've been able to do this online. Still, you need to gather and track the data to put in your report.

What are your practices and methods for best accomplishing this... to not only make sure it gets done but that it's done well? This is something that all of us have to deal with so please share your tips, thoughts, suggestions, etc.

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It was a couple years ago last time I had to do this, but I still have some notes!  One thing I did that I didn't really need to do was that I created all new chord charts (a new format) so that we reported some activity for every song we still actively used at the time.

One little technical glitch that got me more than once was that they expect you to report for six months, but the default on the lists and pulldowns is three months.  So if we had a particular song we hadn't used in three months, it would appear in our ongoing report that I hadn't reported it... and then I'd report a use and then discover that I had already recorded that use and have to remove it.  Maybe by now they've at least let you set that thing so it's always six months, it doesn't revert to three months each time you log in.

I think the biggest difficulty I had (and expect to have again next time) is that they're just not entirely clear on how certain specific activities are to be reported.  Like, they had (have?) a statement in there somewhere about how you can only create your own arrangement of a song if no suitable arrangement is available elsewhere.  Well, guess what, we do this song in the key of C and we dropped the bridge and start with the chorus and... nope, no arrangements like that available.

So what I did at the start of the process (I had done this on paper a couple times before) was to just decide how I would report certain things and stay consistent with that.  And my "CCLI Philosophy" has been that our CCLI license gives us permission to use the SONG, but not to use anybody else's rendering of the song.  So it doesn't cover photocopying somebody else's sheet music for the song, or copying somebody else's recording of the song and sending that to the band.  There are some new licenses that do cover that, but we don't do those things.  Back when we started with CCLI, you didn't have to report every Sunday you USED a song, just when you printed new songbooks or created new slides, but it seems like they want that now.  That may be because they added something about recording the services, and I do try to run a room recorder each Sunday, just so I can listen to how we sounded afterwards.

One thing that's always been blurry (for me) on CCLI is the whole thing about chord charts.  Some people (websites that sell chord charts, mostly) think you can't legally make chord charts for the band at all.  But one of the introductory videos on the CCLI site makes teh statement that the license gives you the right to print the lyrics to a song, and you are also allowed to add any other non-copyrighted content you want.  So... how's that saying go?  "You can't copyright a chord pattern..."  So when I make chord charts for the band, I treated it as one "printing" of the song lyrics.  The other thing with copyright... I can't legally post a video or a recording of a song myself, but I CAN legally send someone the URL of an existing video or recording of the song.  So if there's a video of "Oceans" out there on youtube, I can send the band a pointer to that video and that's entirely legal.

Anyway, as I said... I came up with my own policy for what to report based on the things we do (and on what I could make of the CCLI instructions), and stayed consistent with that.  The last time I reported, they'd come up with some new things they wanted reported, and there will probably be more next time.  One thing I did keep in mind is that our CCLI license COST is based on the number of members in our church, not how many times we use songs, whether we print or project them, etc.  The song usage info is how they divide up that money, but it's not like our license would cost more if we counted things differently.

I will, of course, take a fresh look at the CCLI rules the next time our reporting period comes up and adjust how I report things if I have to... but that was my experience a couple years ago during our last period.  By the way, I do make a point of reporting any WtR songs we use if I can figure out a code number for them :-)

Forgot to mention: for our traditional service, they have a "OneLicense" license, it covers more of the choral music and the whole Catholic liturgical music thing.  The choir director takes care of reporting to OneLicense (whatever those reporting requirements are, maybe they just ask that you have a license).  I know that they do some CCLI music in the second service (Thy Word, Give Thanks), but that generally doesn't get included in our CCLI reports.  It probably should, but it doesn't.  There seems to be this idea that if you own enough hymnals for the congregation, it gives you permission to reprint / project the lyrics or even photocopy the hymnal page in the bulletin.  I don't know if that's true or not, but... we have a contemporary service that operates under CCLI and a traditional service that operates under OneLicense plus ownership of hymnals & The Faith We Sing.

I keep a Google spreadsheet, available to the worship leaders, which shows details of the songs we've used - first line, title, CCLI detail, keys we often use, etc. This also includes an entry for each date we used it and a couple of formulas give a total count and the most recent date. This, along with a second sheet showing our core songs for the current period, provides a useful set of information to support worship leading at the church.

I try to update that weekly and then feed that into the CCLI website - I wish I could just paste in a list of CCLI numbers rather than having to plug each one in by hand. I don't waste time trying to be too precise - I count it as one digital copy of each separate song we use on a given week. That should be enough to make sure a reasonably representative selection of people connected with the Christian music industry get their cut. If they want more precision, they need to make the tools much more pain free, provide quality data back and, ideally, pay me for the admin time.


All I can say is how lucky you are over in the US, at least with respect to CCLI.  We in the UK are required to report every week, all year, every year.... it used to be that we just had to report whether we had used a given song at some point in the year, but under the new system we need to report each time we display a song.  This situation led to me having a long and heated email exchange with a CCLI representative, but needless to say they will not give an inch.

CCLI recommend that you report each week. Well, I am not going to do that, as Wulf says the admin load involved is ridiculous: if I were to cost my time it would be many times the price of the licence itself.

So, my current solution is to save all the powerpoint files with to songs displayed.  I wrote a little bit of code which looks for a characteristic phrase or line in each song so that, at the end of the year, I can automatically count how many files contain a particular song. Hence it more or less does the counting for least accurately enough.

In truth.. the CCLI edict to report every week is ridiculous, and is grabbing data at a much finer level than they need.  They could get good enough data through statistically sampling a random selection of a small number weeks for each church.  Opinion polls can be wrong, apparently, on both sides of the Atlantic, but only if you do the statistical sampling wrong....

Here in the USA, we are not supposed to report every song that we sing. Just using the song in a service requires no reporting. We have to report activity such as making copies of a chart/lyrics, making a digital copy (adding lyrics to a computer for projection, for example), recordings and translations. Now, if you record your service (audio and/or video), then you'll be reporting every song you sing in each service. That can be a real pain and I've had to do that before.

For uploading charts and MP3s to a location for team members to access... or distributing practice CDs, that is covered by the newer CCLI Rehearsal license and has completely separate reporting.

We have to report every time we "display" a song, e.g. project it, as well as each time we print lyrics, e.g. for printed service sheets.  Additionally there is a music reproduction licence for making photocopies or electronic copies of sheet music... in principle if I were to email sheet music to my team, then each time I did that it would count as a "copy" and would need reporting.

You are right, it is a pain.  But CCLI are the only game in town.

My interpretation the last time we did CCLI was that we did have to report the songs we sang each week IF we recorded the service (ok, I see that's what Nathan already said).  But, as I said before, the whole process involves a lot of interpretation.  It might be interesting if you could get somebody from CCLI to participate in this discussion, although my past experience has been that they have their stock answers to a lot of these questions that don't actually answer the questions.  So in another way, I don't think I want to listen to that.

I appreciate that CCLI exists and that there is a mechanism in place whereby the songwriters can be rewarded and that as a WL, I don't have to contact every time we want to do one of their songs and set up a separate license for that song.  And I even understand that when it gets to the attorneys and stuff, the thing that the law says is not necsesarily going to be the most convenient for the people using the songs.  And that if I was a songwriter and some church used my song 24 times and used some other song once, I'd like to get a bigger slice of the pie.  But as a WL, I sure wish it could be as simple as "just send us a list of all the CCLI songs you used in any way over the last six months and we'll take care of it from there."

Just a comment towards what Charles said about reporting different arrangements. CCLI, or anyone else, doesn't care what key you do the song in... or if you do the Bridge again or some variation to the original arrangement. There's no way anyone can really keep track of what all different arrangements exist for a song. What CCLI wants you to report in this area of thought is more of a new creation, not an arrangement. The way I've understood it is, for example, reporting if I created a printed choir arrangement for a song that wasn't something I could've purchased from the publisher or elsewhere... or arranged a horn section arrangement, etc. Another thing would be a translation... like publishing lyrics, creating a chord chart, etc in another language than the original... one that, again, wasn't available already elsewhere.

That's my interpretation at least and how I've handled it myself.


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