UPDATE Jan. 20, 2021: Please read this updated permissions statement from the Sovereign Grace Music blog.
When the COVID-19 crisis caused governments to mandate that churches not gather, Sovereign Grace Music wanted to make it easy for people to live stream our music online to encourage their members. While the current situation doesn’t allow for the saints gathering as we’re told to do in Scripture (Heb. 10:25), we’re grateful that Christ-exalting communication over the Internet can be a means of grace that makes us long to be able to meet together again (Ps. 122:1)!
Recently, Sovereign Grace Music posted on social media that we would allow churches to stream our songs, live or recorded, for their services, but many people didn’t see it. So I’m posting more details here.
Because many churches don’t typically live stream their services, we are giving churches permission to use any Sovereign Grace published song in a video stream, live or recorded, from now through the end of December. If the crisis continues, we’ll extend this deadline. This includes permission to sing our songs live, use an original audio or video recording, and/or display the song lyrics, without obtaining a streaming license. We only request that you include the copyright information either in your video, in the video notes, or on your website, including the phrase, “Used by permission,” after the phrase, “All rights reserved.”
For example, the copyright information for “O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer” would look like this:
Music and words by Nathan Stiff © 2017 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP) Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Churches. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Administrated worldwide at www.CapitolCMGPublishing.com, excluding the UK & Europe which is adm. by Integrity Music. www.SovereignGraceMusic.org
You can find the copyright information for any of our songs on our website. Just search for the song and you’ll find it underneath the lyrics on the song’s page.
This gratis permission extends to those outside of the US, but we can’t say for sure that your video won’t be flagged because of different copyright laws in other countries. We hope these guidelines will help you navigate through this. If you happen to live in the UK, you’ll find this post from my good friend, Matt Dennis, helpful.
Streaming Original Recordings
It’s important to note that using an artist’s original audio or video recording of a song isn’t covered under the CCLI Church Copyright License, but we’re giving you permission to do this with our music.
If you plan to play recorded music before/after your service (from other sources), you need to purchase a CCS Worshipcast Streaming License. We learned that the hard way in my home church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, when our Sunday live stream was taken down the next day because YouTube blocked it due to possible copyright infringement. We were able to work it out but we decided not to play music before or after the service to avoid it from happening again.
If you use a copyrighted recording of a song during your live stream, it’s still possible the streaming platform you use will claim your video for monetization. Please do not dispute these claims unless they result in disabling your video (which is rare). This is especially true for YouTube and Facebook. If this happens, please let us know and send us the URL to your video so we can investigate.
I’d suggest waiting to stream or post your video until Sunday morning to avoid the possibility of your video being disabled before your church has a chance to watch it!
A License Still Might be a Good Idea
Although you have our permission to use our songs without a license until the end of December, it’s still a good idea to obtain the CCLI Church Copyright License with the Streaming License add-on during this season to protect your church and cooperate with copyright laws, especially if you use music from other sources. In this season, CCLI is offering a 10% discount to new users, which equates to the first month free.
I’m hoping to write a blog post this week on the difference between online streaming and an actual gathering, and why it’s important that we highlight those differences in this season. But in the meantime, we’re grateful that our music can serve churches throughout the world, gathered or scattered, whose heart is to “praise the name of God with a song.” (Psalm 69:30, ESV)
Bob, thanks so much for doing this and for helping to clarify the differences in licensing and potential frustrations when live-streaming worship. There’s been so much scrambling by our congregation and I know so many others are doing the same.
I’m also very eager for you to highlight the important differences between streaming and an actual gathering of the body of Christ. I 100% agree that we are so blessed to be able to worship together via video, but I’m concerned that a great many congregations, which before this time hadn’t distracted themselves with a live online presence, will be tempted to consider livestream attendance as an acceptable means of attendance, discipleship, and outreach within the local church after churches resume meeting together. I’m a worship leader in a congregation that has several tech-savvy members, so there’s a constant tension between doing things that contribute to the worship of Jesus and doing things solely for reasons that are aesthetic and convenient. There’s already been several comments from elders that this is a service we should continue to offer after life returns to normal, but the examples of reasons given included not only ones that would be legitimate, such as someone who was sick or suffered from a disability, but also those that would in my opinion not be a valid reason to not attend worship, such as being tired, having a family day at home, or going on a hike in nature while still being able to watch the service. That being the case, I feel that pastors and elders need to prayerfully and carefully communicate that this situation is neither permanent nor ideal and should instead cause us to long to be reunited with the local body of Christ.
Thanks again for your wisdom throughout this time.
Ryan, thank you SO much for your comment. I will definitely post thoughts on the differences for the reasons you cite. Keep making much of Jesus and the gathered church!
Thank you, Bob. Praying for you now.
Dear Bob, thank you and God richly bless and multiply your ministry for being willing to serve the whole Body of Christ with your gifts and talents! I believe you all have been setting the example in worship music for many years now; in content, in excellence, in adaption, and with this offer, in application. The music you all have produced over the years has blessed our church (Chantilly Bible Church) over the years; including this past Christmas with “O Come, All You Unfaithful”. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being willing to help those of us who are able to stream, but need a little help with recorded music we can stream legally! I know the Lord will bless you all for this! Matt Villalobos, Director of Music and Hispanic Ministries. P.S. “The Acapella Project” set the standard, in my opinion : )
Thanks for the helpful information, and for SG’s permission to use your recorded material. Can you comment please on whether the requirements are the same for using prerecorded videos in a Zoom meeting?
You have full permission to use our songs in a Zoom meeting!
Hi Bother and Sister’s in Christ. How can we use music for free this year 2021? Still we struggle for our worship live streaming on Facebook financially we cannot afford if we can buy weekly a licensed worship songs. Thank you so much.
Maricel, see this update: https://sovereigngracemusic.org/2021/01/live-streaming-permissions-update/
Thank you so much for this helpful information. I am currently taking an online music class. My favorite genre is Gospel music. I am working on a class project now in which I have to find a live listening opportunity to hear and observe musicians participating in gospel music and finally schedule a time to speak to one of the musicians through zoom, Skype, facetime, etc. Is this something your online site can possibly help me with? I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and take care 😊.
When you say “our songs,” do you mean any song we can find on the Sovereign Grace site, or only songs with “ Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP) Sovereign Grace Music” as the copyright holder?
Thanks for asking! Only songs in which Sovereign Grace is one of the copyright holders.
Hi Bob. Where exactly do I find Soveregin Grace songs to live stream?
Are they video songs with lyrics on screen too?
Andy, Check out the Sovereign Grace Music YouTube channel.
Hello! Is there an update on this permission? The article says through the end of May. Our church is still meeting online (video conferencing) to accommodate high risk members.
Sarah, we’ve extended permissions through the end of June. Thanks for asking!
Hello, is there an extension of this permission until July? Thank you.
So if I wish to find various Sovereign Grace worship video songs to live stream. What steps do I need to do for my church to utilize them? I’m the church videographer? We lack our praise band right now. Where do I download song videos from?
Todd, you can’t download them, but you can stream them from Youtube.
Thank you so much for doing this! It takes a lot of pressure of us “tech people” in smaller churches who don’t normally deal with this. It adds so much to have some music playing before and after our livestreams!
Hi Bob, how about if we were to record our voices over one of SGM’s accompaniment tracks, and live stream it during our Sunday service? Would this use-case fall under the auspices of this permission? Thanks!
Anders, that is totally fine with us during this season. And because you’re adding your own vocals, I don’t think it will be picked up as a licensed song. Thanks for serving your church faithfully!
Very grateful you’re doing this! I am a worship leader in the UK. Does “use an original audio or video recording” mean I could pre-record SGM songs as part of a church worship session uploaded onto YouTube? This isn’t live-streaming, as the video would remain on YouTube indefinitely. I would of course include the appropriate credit as you mentioned.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Rachel, yes you are free to use our YouTube videos for your services. Thanks for asking!
Thank you for doing this! I am a worship leader in the UK. Our church is pre-recording worship sessions and uploading them onto YouTube. Does “use an original audio or video recording” mean we could record SGM songs for these pre-recorded worship sessions?
We would, of course, give the appropriate credit as you mentioned.
Many thanks for your help.
Rachel, yes, that would be fine. Thanks for asking!
Thankyou Bob, this is great! I’ve really enjoyed watching so many churches begin to worship outside of their church walls in this season. Isn’t it amazing what God is doing in His church through worship and online broadcasting? I saw a statistic that 1 in 4 people in the UK had watched an online church broadcast during the lockdown.
It’s always amazing how God can turn a tough situation into an opportunity for hearts to align back to Him and His name to shine bright!
Thank you for allowing churches to live stream your music recordings during this pandemic. I am worship leader of a small church. I am very grateful to have music during our communion time.
Hi, Thank you very much for allowing us to use your songs. This is very helpful for small churches like us.
Sovereign Grace music has definitely been a blessing in my life! Thank you so much for the permission you’ve granted to use SG recordings during the pandemic. Tonight I stumbled across the beautiful (March 2020) YouTube recording of you and your daughter singing Be Ye Glad! Though I realize it is not a Sovereign Grace song, would you be willing to grant permission for us to play this recording as part of this Sunday’s ZOOM service? Our pastor at our small church had been wanting to implement this song in some way, and I was so excited to hear your meaningful rendition. I have loved this song for decades. Thank you for considering!
Jeanette, certainly. Thanks for asking.
Sir how can we use/download your songs? We want to use it for our radio streaming to preach the gospel in the Philippines
Thanks for asking! Email me at email@example.com.
hi there, how exactly can I download some of these music video’s to use in our livestream software?
James, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or use the Contact tab above. Thanks!
Hi Bob – this is really generous way to bless those of us who love your songs so thank you :)
We’re planning our prerecorded Christmas Service at the moment and I wanted to check please if your permission extended to including one of your Sovereign Grace songs as part of this?
To clarify, not us singing, but including one of your actual videos in the service that will be uploaded to our church youtube site. We would of course use the appropriate credits. Thanks so much from across the pond in Bonnie Scotland :)
Mairi, thanks for asking! As long as you have a CCL license, you should be okay. We would let you do it for free, but YouTube doesn’t always allow it!
Hello, I am a minister’s wife with very little tech experience. We are a small country church trying to make our way through COVID-19 and providing meaningful worship services and still follow safety protocols. I have been singing along with our pianist but I think people are tired of hearing us sings. We love the music that is offered through Sovereign Grace. Beautiful worship music! We have the CCLI streaming license and reading through your posts I am confused with regards to the Youtube video’s. We do not livestream but we do video record and then upload to Youtube. Do I copy the Youtube link, download the video and then put into my video? Can I put Sovereign Grace video into the service or am I better to download it to an mp3 and just play the music. Sorry, like I said not a tech person. Definitely a learning curve for this old gal! Nadine
Nadine, thanks for asking! Sorry about all the trouble you’re facing. Here’s the update on streaming from CCLI. It would probably be easiest for you to just play the MP3 with background. If you have trouble, email me at the contact tab above.