Music For Events… Keeping It Legal

Events use a lot of music, and your event is probably no exception.

Music before the event.  Music during your event.  Music in videos.  Music in breaks.  You can see where this is going.

I thought today we would look at music copyrights and how they pertains to your event.  Now first let me say, please don’t take what I’m saying as the gospel truth.  If you have any questions or concerns passed this post, please take a moment to consult a lawyer, or contact the song’s publishing company directly.  If you can’t afford that (entertainment lawyers aren’t cheap!), Google can be your friend.

If your event is hosted in a church, more than likely the church has a CCLI license that covers most song uses that your event has.  This includes performance on stage, printed lyrics, music in videos and more.

If your event is not in a church, check with the venue to see if they have a license with a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) like ASCAP or BMI.  If they do have a license with the PRO, any song usage like what’s listed above, would be covered with that license.

Another area to consider is use of a song for promotional purposes.  If you’re doing something in the 30 second range you’re covered, however, if you’re doing anything longer two licenses need to be secured: a publishing license and a master use license.

The publishing license is from the song publisher.  Typically this information can be found in the credits of the song and could be multiple publishing companies.  The master use license is use granted from the master recording owner.  Typically that is the record company.  If you have a recording you would like to use, I would contact the record label directly.

The same goes for use of a song. Contact the publishing company directly with any questions.  They’re use to getting these types of calls, and can point you in the right direction.

Choosing The Right Entertainment

Entertainment for an event/retreat is always a nice addition.  Choosing the right entertainment is key.

In my “day job” as an artist manager, I work with all kinds of entertainment.  I thought I would take a moment and give you a few things to look for when looking for entertainment.

  • Music
    Like any form of entertainment, picking music is a tough one.  Do you get a band?  A singer/songwriter?  Or someone singing to tracks?  These different variations also bring other issues.  For instance, production.  If you have a band, sound plays into the equation and budget.
    Another point to consider with music is style.  Do you want a party atmosphere?  Do you want a reflective time?
    Here’s a for instance: I work with a band, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra.  There are 12 guys on stage.  LOTS of production involved with them.  From a style standpoint, they can be a 60’s/70’s era band, they can do hymns, patriotic or Christmas or they can do a regular show.  Looking for a band that will give you different options is key.
  • Comedy
    If your event/retreat has been particularly stressful, having a comedienne is the perfect way to wrap up on a light note.
    Production is not much of an issue for a comedienne.  Most of the time, all they need is a mic and a stage.
    Style is something to consider when choosing the right comedienne.  You probably don’t want someone who would make you feel uncomfortable if your mom or dad were present.  And you probably don’t want someone that is political in nature.
  • Speakers
    Don’t get this confused with a comedienne.  A speaker is someone who is coming in to do a talk on a particular subject.
    Production is only a minor consideration for speakers.  Some will probably have PowerPoint presentations, or the like.  Having the right hookups for a computer are key.  Some speakers travel with these things, but never assume that.

Whether it’s a band, comedy or speaker, coordination ahead of time is important.  A quick phone call is all that is needed.  And don’t forget to loop in the sound engineer.

One last tip: there are several agencies out there that represent all of these different types of entertainment.  Working with them can help you get the right fit for your event or retreat.