Okay.  I'm not familiar with the legalities of doing this so I'm asking.  If I use Audacity and rip vocals from a CD how legal is that?  I'm contemplating what other things I can do to bring instrumentals with me when I can't bring a band or a band of instruments for a worship set.  Any thoughts? Don't want to do anything illegal.

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I'm no lawyer, so...  with a grain o' salt...


My philosophy / understanding on all this was that our CCLI license gave us permission to use songs, but not to use someone else's performance or publication of the songs.  So de-vocalizing the songs from a published CD is probably less than entirely legal.  However, CCLI just came out with some new licensing stuff that apparently makes it legal to copy songs from published CDs to help the band learn the songs, so you might look at that to see if it says anything about using CDs like that in worship.


Aren't there a bunch of "split track" worship CDs out there?  The songs are probably not the hot new numbers, but I would think that the publishers of those CDs would expect people to use those music tracks in live worship, maybe the copyright notice on those CDs even allows for certain uses like that.


We had a discussion on here not too long ago about using "Band In a Box" to create instrumental arrangements for songs; that would get around the whole issue of using someone else's "performance" of the song, and would also allow you to adjust song keys, tempos, arrangements... I'm several versions downrev on BIAB, my understanding is that the newer versions use lots of real instrument samples and the like, and they sound a lot better than "MIDI through a soundcard" stuff.  With BIAB, you choose a style, tempo, and key and enter the chord pattern and it makes music for you... it's really simple to use and is probably noticeably more "legal" than stripping vocals from a published CD.


When you say "bring," are you referring to doing worship at your own church on Sundays when the drummer can't be there, or are you talking about going to other churches, public events, etc.?  For what it's worth, I think the CCLI licensing does make a distinction there, as well... stuff you can do at your own church may not be covered if you take it on the road...


But like I said, I'm not a lawyer...



That thread also mentioned some software that

Rip vocals from a CD? What do you mean?
Depending on how a song is mixed, if you play the left and right channels out of phase with each other and put it together in mono, the vocals (and anything else panned dead center) will cancel out and you're left with an instrumental track with no vocals.  Since bass is usually mixed dead center as well, you often lose a lot of the bass.
Thanks for your replies everybody.  It's funny you should mention BIAB because I have 2009 edition but haven't figured out how to use it yet.  The reason I don't go out and buy the accompaniment tracks is simply the financial issue.  My problem is when I'm worshipleading in other churches I don't always know who can come with me....also issues with people backing out at the last minute.  This way I just have to depend on myself.
Take vocals out of the cd track to just use the instrument recordings.  I'm having problems with people backing out of commitments in the last minute.

Audacity can't really do that that I've found. At least I've never been able to get a result that can be used for accompaniment. It really ends up sounding edited and is completely dependent on the design of the original.  Maybe someone else has a different experience. That being said, you are still dealing with licensing issues. 


When I run into "lack of musicians" I can always default to just me and my guitar. Are you an instrument player? I don't recall.

Do a google search for backing tracks, worship backing tracks, instrumental tracks, etc.

There are tons, they already have the vocals removed, some even let you select the order of the verses and chorus, or what instruments play.


Let us know more of what you are doing and perhaps we could recommend some websites.

When in doubt, don't do it. 

 This is why I made the Worship Matters Podcast with Brother Timothy Clark. 

 CCLI is a pet peeve of mine. 

 I advocate for more P&W artists to release under a CC license. Creative Commons. 

 Copyright is a tricky thing and there are many gray areas in it. Reference Creative Commons and you will see a more balanced structure. 

 Many people don't know about the sweet of CC licenses. There is also something called Public Domain. Check these sources to find music for your sets. 

 The problem is even if you are a musician and you are at a church that isn't CCLI equipped and you sing a song licensed via CCLI you have effectively broken copyright which is a bit of nasty business if you are sued. 

 On the other hand, a CC  track has everything in black and white. What you can and can't do.  

 Why aren't artists on board with this? because the record label effectively owns them and the labels won't relinquish control. 

 Trust me, I have been there and I have done that. 

 When I was living in the world for the things of the world, I had many labels who wanted my signature for the next up and coming country super star. Thank God I didn't do it. 

 I have learned a lot and now that I am a Christian well studied in music law and such, I hope to bring information that will bless you all. 


 For the record, Check here. 


 One more thing, Public Domain material will be old and generally before 1921? Check that year as it will change as things go out of copyright. 

 Creative Commons licensed music won't be popular music like CCLI but it will be authentic music done from the heart. I am not saying that those with CCLI aren't authentic. 

 Anyway, Hope this helps. 

Well, sure, let's dig into this again.

First off, I think CCLI is generally a good thing.  While they don't always define exactly what you can do with a song, they provide legal access to (and cataloging of) a large body of P/W music, the stuff that people will hear if they listen to Christian radio stations or steam "the most popular 100 worship videos" on youtube.  If I was being asked (or, especially paid) to lead worship at a church that did not have a CCLI license, having them get one would be first order of business.  (there is a whole other license called OneLicense which covers a lot of the Taize / Catholic Church music, and we have that for our choir, but if a church only did that music, I would be the wrong person to have come lead worship).  And the other thing I think CCLI does well is that they set your license fee based on the size of your church and that's that... so if you paid $200  a year for your CCLI license, you don't have to worry that if you use "Refiner's Fire" a lot, you're going to get a bill for an extra $17 at the end of the year.  And once you have a license, if you hear a covered song that you like, you can just use it, and it's essentially free.

CCLI does also provide a mechanism for worship songwriters to get PAID for their songwriting, and that may be the difference between having to have a "day job" and being able to devote one's time to writing worship music.  And in the case where "Big Worship Music Publishing, Inc." wants to pay somebody a thousand dollars for a worship song and then hopes to make that up by collecting the CCLI payments on the song... well, if that CCLI money wasn't there, then that thousand dollars for the rights to the song might not be there, either.  (I'm just making that number up).  

I won't make a blanket uninformed judgement that the music available under CC isn't as good as CCLI music, but it would likely not be the music people are, again, hearing on the Christian radio stations, since the whole music publishing industry, CCLI and broadcasters kinda feed off each other.  And there are a number of "worship leader planning" software sites that sync up pretty well with CCLI - you can add your own songs, or PD songs, but the planning tools give built in access to the CCLI stuff.  Maybe CCLI is in some ways "the only game in town" right now, but from the perspective of song WRITERS, it's a lot better than there not being any game in town at all.

And if we're going to define PD as music copyrighted more than 78 years ago, then we're not exactly talking "contemporary" here.  I know, PD is more complicated than that, but that's how you defined it.

I certainly don't OBJECT to songwriters licensing their songs under CC, but I don't resent writers who still have some hope of their songs being professionally published.  And, ya know, as a worship leader, if I hear a song I like on a youtube video, the first thing I do is I go to the CCLI song search to find out if that song is CCLI covered.  And if I don't find it there and the video didn't make it clear that the song is CC licensed, then I wonder if it's copyrighted, just not under CCLI.  If I really like the song I will try to contact the artist to find out about it, but in a lot of cases, I'll just choose to use some other song.

I suppose what you could do that would be useful would be to post some things here - maybe you already have - along the lines of "I wrote this song and decided I wanted to make it available under CC... here are the steps I followed to make that happen.  For a lot of us who write songs, we do have these dreams of getting them picked up by a real publisher, and licensing under a CC license is kinda saying, "well, I'm never going to make any money off this one, let's set it up so others can use it."  Or maybe, in some cases, "this one didn't come out so well, but maybe if I make it available for free, people will use it."

I dunno... I continue to take the attitude that our CCLI license gives us the right to make use of the SONG, but not of anybody else's production or presentation of the song.  That may not be a perfect understanding (the whole issue of chord charts, for instance), but it gives me a way to operate, and the fact that we have a CCLI license at all suggests that we're operating in good faith, if not to somebody's interpretation of the letter of the law.  And Iv'e even mentioned that as a comment on some of our CCLI reports, and they've never come back and objected.

The problem in CCLI are the gray areas. 

 Just because you have a CCLI license doesn't give you the rights to broadcast your worship service say via Facebook. So if you wanted to take that route, you would need to also pay for yet another license from PROS. Performance Rights Organizations.  

  Can artists make money through licensing their music through Creative Commons? Sure can. We have just as much rights to put our music on iTunes or Spotify as the next person essentially making it possible to funnel in money 

 You talked of the artist who you can't find copyright information for, well let's say their a modern artist but there's no information out about the copyrights. Public Domain can still be added to a modern song by the artist. It doesn't have to be 90 or so years old. It could have been made yesterday but the artist lists it as Public Domain. 

 There's a lot of beautiful material which is licensed under nontraditional means.

CCLI has it's place of that I am sure. However, to ignore other services/licenses and the like is putting your church in a rut. 

 When the Levites commissioned to lead the singing at the temple did so, do you think they wrote their own material for these services? You had better believe they did. If you are called to minister through music but can't write music, perhaps that's not your calling after all. The Levites were trained and well skilled in music. They maintained schools where they would teach musicians who were also Levites. We should learn from them and seek to lead by example as the Levites are our example of worshipers.


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