Good News for Gospel Music

ccliurban.jpgI am greatly encouraged to see that Church Copyright License International has just launched CCLI Urban to very intentionally reach across the racial divide in order to incorporate African American music into their catalog. CCLI is an organization that allows composers to register their music so that they can receive payment for when their songs are used in worship services. Churches pay an annual fee in order to have the legal right to make songsheets, project lyrics, print in bulletins, and distribute a small number of recordings. They have also, in recent years, used their website as a resource for finding music through a service that allows you to download lyrics, lead sheets, chord sheets, and even hymn sheets called SongSelect.
In general, the gospel music industry has for a long time been outside the mainstream. They are not on big labels and are not being published by big publishing companies. As a result, it’s very difficult to find sheet music and resources to learn new music. This has meant that gospel composers rarely receive legal compensation for their work from churches. This push by CCLI to encourage gospel artists to register and “Urban” churches to pay for a license is going to help gospel become more available and African American worship to join the mainstream. This will do a lot to help churches become more diverse where they might not be able to find any resources to learn and perform gospel.
Of course, this whole push is financially motivated by CCLI. They know that gospel music is huge and they need to get a cut of the action. Regardless, I am excited. Anything that can grease the wheels of reconciliation is good to me. Their website is an excellent example of specific marketing to shed the image that CCLI is a white-bread organization. They are using Israel Houghton, Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr, Joe Pace, Byron Cage, Donnie McClurkin and other mainstream gospel artists who are already registered to spread the word that CCLI is good for everybody.

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