Song Select & CCLI TV – Share Your Music Around the World And Make $$$!

Abbie Stancato of Rockin' God's House

I began using SongSelect about a year ago. It is a great place to print/download lyrics, chord sheets, lead sheets and vocal arrangements from most of your favorite Christian songwriters and artists. (What exactly you can download depends upon your level of membership.) Most of the popular worship songs are located there, and SongSelect has multiple versions available depending on your church’s specific needs. Some less popular or very new songs, if listed, may only contain lyric sheets. If you want to change the key, every piece of sheet music allows you to transpose. One note of caution, although most songs are correct, some songs will display a default key that’s different than the artist’s original recording. Always play the song and transpose if necessary before blindly passing it out to your praise team.

Paul Herman, Marketing Director of CCLI (the company which owns SongSelect) says that it started back in 2000 as a lyric service.

“We had a database of song lyrics, and we wanted to make them available so people could be sure they got the authorized published version and didn’t have to create them themselves. It started as a pretty simple service. Then requests came in for chord sheets, lead sheets, vocal sheets, etc. It took a while but we were able to reach an agreement with our publishers to be able to offer those things on the web. It was a tremendous success and provided an additional revenue stream for the publishers.”

“To interface with tools out there like Planning Center Online, presentation software, etc., our newest version of SongSelect allows for API partnerships. (API stands for Application Programming Interface. Many sites—such as the New York Times—have APIs that are designed to let you take content from those sites and electronically insert it on your site or to take content from elsewhere and publish it to their platform—as in the case of Twitter and Facebook.) Now churches are able to access SongSelect directly through these different tools.”

Paul, can any songwriter get their music on SongSelect?

“The short answer is no, but let me explain the process.”

“CCLI will register a songwriter for a one time administration fee of $50.00. Once registered, the writer will be represented by our Church Copyright License, and their songs can earn royalty revenue depending on the level of copy activity reported by CCLI churches. For this to really be worth your time and ours, you need to have a song that is truly resonating with multiple church congregations.

“To then take the next step and have your song(s) be considered for chord sheets, lead sheets and vocal arrangements in SongSelect, we need to see relevant reporting activity from at least five churches. This process can take a couple years at least.”

“However, there is an interesting ‘back door’ to getting your music on SongSelect more quickly. It is through a web video platform we created a few years ago. It allows both recognized publishers/record companies and unpublished song owners and worship leaders to have a platform from which to share their songs. That video format is called CCLI TV.”

“CCLI must remain neutral as a licensing organization; we are not a publisher and cannot promote one artist over another. And yet, from our unique position in the music industry, we know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great worship songs out there that very few people hear. So about four years ago we developed the CCLI TV platform where worship songwriters/artists affiliated with CCLI could send us their videos. We do have some basic criteria. The video should be as high-quality as possible. The songs need to be great, and the recording and musicianship need to be solid. If these criteria are met, we will post the video on CCLI TV for all the churches to view. Where the SongSelect ‘back door’ process comes into play is now CCLI will come to you and request chord sheets, lead sheets, and/or vocal arrangements for the songs whose videos the churches will be viewing. It is a win-win for the churches and for the songwriters, especially for grassroots or unknown songwriters. It is a way for someone to truly share their songs around the world.”

So what about sheet music? If I am a songwriter who is musically illiterate, meaning I can’t read or write music, does SongSelect provide a service that could translate my song to sheet music?

“Currently, no, we don’t. But keep in mind that most of our SongSelect traffic is for chord sheets, and they are the easiest to create. Creating lead sheets and vocal arrangements certainly requires some music notation skills, but for serious songwriters, it may be worth the investment.”