Are You a Gospel Thief?

This goes out to gospel singers; soloists, duets, trios, quartets, etc., etc.

Do you pay the royalties for the songs you record?  If you a recording music not written by you or a member of your group and are NOT paying the royalties for those songs, you are a thief.  That’s as plain as it gets.  You say, “Well, it’s only 50 or 100 CDs that we order.”  Stealing is stealing.  I’m sure you think that you should get your set fee or your love offering when you sing; well those songwriters should get the money for their work as well.

Paying royalties is not that difficult, it’s not that expensive and it IS the right thing to do; ESPECIALLY if you are a Christian singer or group.

How it works.  YOU have 10 songs you want to record, great, now get on the internet and find out who wrote each of those songs.  Let’s say you are recording a song written by Rodney Griffin (Greater Vision), his songs are handled by Great Vision Music, so they are who you pay the royalties to.  You contact Greater Vision Music, tell them you would like to record whatever song it is.  They will send you a Mechanical License form.  You fill the form out (it’s quite simple and quite self explanatory), enter the number of copies you are ordering if it’s 50 CDs then enter 50 if 100, then enter 100.  Now the rate for royalties is .091 per song for songs 5 minutes and under; songs over five minutes in length are $.0175 per minute rounding up to the next minute (e.g. a song that is 6’01 in length would be rounded to 7 minutes and multiplied by .0175).  So for your song written by Rodney Griffin, for 100 copies would 100 * .091 = 9.10 So you would write a check for $9.10 and send it along with the Mechanical License form to Greater Vision Music and you now have the rights to record that song.  Keep in mind, that only covers the right to record that song and order the first 100 CDs (or whatever quantity you are ordering).  Now, if you are using your own music or you had the track recreated by someone else, you are finished; however, if you bought a track from Daywind, or any of the other track companies out there, you will need to contact them to “lease” that track; this can get expensive, but you need to do it regardless.

So, now that you have paid the royalties for this one song, you repeat the step for the remaining 9 songs.  You may find that 3 (or more) of the songs you are recording are handled by the same agency, say Wind Chime Music for example; you can list all 3 songs (or more) on the Mechanical License Form and pay the royalties for all 3 (or more).  So you would send a check for $27.30 ((.091 * 100) = 9.10; 9.10 * 3 = $27.30).  So for 10 songs you are going to end up paying $91.00 in royalties for the 100 CDs that you are ordering.  Make sure you keep all the information for these songs because when you reorder CDs, you have to pay again.  Every time you reorder you have to pay royalties.

To help you get started paying those royalties, here are some web sites you can use to search for songs and get the songwriter or agency to pay your royalties

http://musicservices.org/

http://www.harryfox.com

http://www.evergreencopyrights.com

http://www.bmi.com/search/

This will get you started.

Don’t want to pay? Well, you don’t have to.  Just write your own music OR don’t record.  Remember the Ten Commandments?  Thou shalt not steal?

Bottom line is, how do you expect God to bless you, your ministry or your recording project if you don’t pay those royalties?

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Outdoor Singings – Just Some Thoughts

For several days I have contemplated what to write about for my first blog entry.  I thought about writing about local groups, or about gospel groups in churches or how pastors appear to view gospel groups today.  I have come to the conclusion that I am going to write about the outdoor singings, when I started in 1974 and where they are today.

As I get started, just a reminder, the comments here are of course, my opinions, and how I see things, you may or may not agree and that’s okay.

I started singing when I was 14 years old with a local group.  Outdoor singings were a big thing in Northeast Ohio.  Every weekend there was one somewhere. They were packed and they would set all day in the hot sun enjoying all the groups anxiously waiting for their own personal favorite to take the stage. One thing that set the singings apart then from now is the “quality” of them. In the 70’s and 80’s they were all by invitation only and only the best groups were invited.  There may have been 25 or 30 groups there but they were good, solid groups.  Not all from Ohio, many from Pennsylvania or West Virginia and southern states as well. Those days are now gone.

Today, many of the singings are, well, to be quite honest not so good.  They’re still by invitation, for the most part.  I know in many cases all a group has to say is “Hey we’d like to come sing for you” and they’re added to the roster. They start on Thursday or Friday and in most cases involve “church” talent. Saturday morning will be the same line-up and then finally at noon on Saturday the “prime” groups begin to take the stage.  Unfortunately, a number of the “prime” groups aren’t; not really. This has ruined what was once a wonderful event! People come out and have to set through “ma, pa and the youngens'” twangin’ away on 18 choruses of I’ll Fly Away as soon as they hear their favorite group they leave because they don’t want to set through a long procession of “well we ain’t very good but we sang fer the Lord” and begin twangin’ away. The promoter or director of the event then wonders why every year the crowds (and the offerings) get smaller and smaller; is it really any wonder?

It is time to get back to the “old days” when quality meant something.  When giving your absolute best for the Lord meant something?  You’re never going to build or re-build your singing continuing this way.  Instead of dragging the event on for three days with 25 groups, 10 of which are very good and 15 that are not; shorten it to one or at most two days.  Have only the 10 good groups and leave it at that.  It may take a couple of years to re-build but you will. You’ll have the 30 devoted people who’ll come the first year, but it will catch on as word gets out that you are using only quality groups, it will grow.  You’ll have those crowds, you’re offerings will increase but most importantly; God will be better served; Christians will be blessed and souls will be saved and isn’t that what it’s REALLY all about?