Churches find contemporary music to be the great uniter

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventChristian Copyright Licensing International Inc., the world’s largest provider of Christian music licensing, makes it possible for churches to legally copy and distribute praise-and-worship music to their congregations. Based in Portland, Ore., CCLI works with about 200,000 churches around the world and tracks the most popular songs used. Churches can’t legally project the lyrics on a video screen or reprint them without permission. But instead of negotiating with music publishers individually, churches can pay a blanket license fee to CCLI, which funnels royalties to the songwriters. In the past decade, the group has nearly doubled the number of U.S. churches it licenses to 140,000, said EMI CMG Publishing President Eddie DeGarmo, who’s on the licensing company’s advisory council. “This growth reflects the acceptance of the songs,” DeGarmo said. “Modern worship songs are exploding on a global basis. They’re in a style that relates to a younger audience. They’re easy to sing and sound like something you’d hear on the radio.” Many Protestant churches began to phase out hymnals and put song lyrics on overhead projection screens in the 1980s. Old-fashioned music was replaced by pop-influenced singalongs known as praise-and-worship music. FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Sunday mornings at the People’s Church look more like rock concerts than traditional worship services. A couple on stage leads about 3,700 people – many of them teenagers in blue jeans – in contemporary worship songs, accompanied by guitars and drums. Lyrics roll across a large video screen. “Music is a big deal in our church,” said Randy Elrod, creative-arts pastor for the church. “We have a band. We’re very contemporary in style. I’m influenced more by what is culturally relevant.” Thousands of churches like this one in suburban Nashville have moved away from singing hymns to “participatory music” – and that’s meant a change in music publishing, too. But “there was really no way for the songwriters to be paid for their works,” DeGarmo said. “So there was a need that arose to help churches work within the copyright law. (The licensing company) was formed as a way for them to operate legally.” Praise-and-worship songs are “congregational, not necessarily performance-based, someone performing on stage,” he said. “In other words they’re participatory. Modern worship has really struck a nerve in that way. It’s still growing. The churches are the avenue for these artists to get played.” Founded in 1984, CCLI now makes upward of $20 million a year in revenue – the majority of which is a percentage of the licensing fees, which are determined based on the size of the church. Annual fees range from about $100 to $1,000. CCLI surveys which songs are being sung in churches and ranks the top tunes, creating what DeGarmo describes as a kind of Billboard for Christian music. One of the leaders in praise-and-worship music, Chris Tomlin, garnered the most nominations for this year’s Dove Awards, the gospel music industry’s equivalent of the Grammys. Tomlin, 33, said he believes his music is popular with listeners who want to communicate with God. “Music connects with the soul,” Tomlin said. “I think it’s the quickest art form to the soul. “What bigger music scene is there in the world than the church? It’s vital to the world and to culture.” James Byrd, assistant dean of the Vanderbilt University Divinity School, said the licensing group’s growth reflects the increasing importance music plays in church services. “When we talk about denominations today, they’re not the primary identity markers for people who are Christians,” Byrd said. “More and more Christians don’t think of themselves tied to a denomination. “I think music is one of the things contributing to this,” he said. The music is trans-denominational, something uniting these people. … There’s less to disagree with in the music than with sermons, where you can get into theological arguments.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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