My congregation worships with many of the songs I write & request recordings all the time.  My Pastor approached me, saying that the church board voted to underwrite a recording project, and told me to get some quotes together.  Have any of you recorded a church funded project with your original songs?  What legal questions should I be asking?  Thanks so much for your input.

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If they're your own songs, there aren't really any legal issues. You own the copyright so you can publish, record etc. however you'd like. You should register your songs with the copyright dept. and also register the sound recording if it makes you feel more secure, but it sounds like a great opportunity. I've recorded a couple of CDs myself. Have fun!

Al Hilgendorf

www.everydaypraise.com

Thanks so much for your response ..... I am excited to be recording .....

We wrapped up a project of 8 covers and 2 originals.  Even doing covers as long as you pay a mechanical license you can use them.

Like Al said there is no worries with original material.  Your only concerns are the recording process itself.  There are alot of considerations there.  Make sure your audio is as pristine as possible.  Do a couple of dry runs and experiment with some different options.  Recording can be done grass roots with much success but mastering should definitely be done by a professional. Hope that helps.

Thanks, Matthew ... I will be recording all originals, and maybe 2 hymns that are public domain.  Thank you for the recording advise.

Be sure to use a reliable studio with staff who understand your lack of experience and who won't overcharge. Years ago, my first recording experience almost resulted in my quitting! lol  Praise Him for sending help!

Such good advise ... thank you, Ruth.

Some questions for you to ask yourself, you don't have to answer these here, but you should think about them just to make sure there aren't disagreements later on...

Since your church is putting up the money for this, make sure everybody agrees on what that means... where does the money go when you start selling copies of this?  Is somebody at your church going to have "veto power" over what songs or what performances are on the CD? If you decide you want to use studio musicians and singers rather than your own church band, is that going to be a problem? If you want to pay to print a bunch more copies a few years from now, do those copies belong to you?  Just, in general, what are the ground rules?

What are your expectations, and what are the church's expectations, about this thing?  Is the goal to make something "radio ready" or is it to produce something that is basically just "for the congregation"?  Are you hoping for something you can use to "launch your career" as a writer / WL, and if so, is the church on board with that?

Good luck with the project!

Thank you very much for your response, Charles.  These are very good questions and concerns - some that I have come up with as well.  I plan to have a meeting with the board to clarify some things and to get something in writing between me and the board.

If they're your own songs, there aren't really any legal issues

Agreed, at least to the songs themselves.  But listen closely and have others listen closely to the melodies and lyrics and make sure they are not infringing on someone else's songs. IT is very easy to pick up a part of a melody from somewhere else.

The next issue is the recording itself.  Get an agreement IN WRITING between you and the board listing the amount donated; what kind of control the board has over the recording process and who owns the rights to the recording files proper.  You may own your own songs but the board may insist on owning the recording itself. Legally they are separate issues.

David ... Thank you for your response.  Yes .... I also felt that there should be something in writing between me and the board.  My plan is to meet with the board and to discuss these issues with them.  I do try to check to make sure my songs are not infringing upon someone else's work.  All the songs that I plan on recording are already being used in our church and in a couple of others, so people have listened.  Like you, I am concerned about making sure that all the melodies are mine.  Thank you very much for your insight here.

Joachima--

Did all go well with this experience?

Just curious,

Steve

Hi Steve .... Unfortunately the funding fell through - the church has gone through a difficult time financially and the recording was no longer an option.  I am currently raising funds on my own.  The church does support my fund raising efforts as they wish to have recordings of our original worship songs.  Thanks for asking.  

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