Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Myth Alert! A Popular (and Incorrect) Anti-CCM Argument

Myth: (A) The CCLI posts the top 25 most popular Praise and Worship songs. (B) The CCLI top 25 most popular songs are always worthless songs. (C) Therefore, they are the top 25 songs that are performed during services in church.

Fact: This argument uses non sequitur logic [A+B ≠ C]. This kind of point proves ignorance about how CCLI information is reported and gathered. As a person who has dealt with CCLI, I will present many of the mitigating circumnstances that make this assersion invalid:

1. CCLI gathers the Top 25 list using the following method. On their website they say, "For each survey period, we calculate which songs are the top 25 songs reported as being reproduced in that survey, for the Church Copyright License. The Top 25 Songs lists are updated after each royalty payout, paid on February 15 and August 15 every year." That means that it does not take into account churches who do not use CCLI or do not properly report to CCLI (which is more than you might think).

2. CCLI payouts include all non-worship oriented uses of the contemporary music including things like youth events, commercials, slide-show presentations, etc. Just because something is reported to CCLI does not mean that it was used in a worship service.

3. You do not have to report to CCLI if you have direct permission from the copyright holder through another provider. This means that if you perform an original piece written by a congregation member who grants permission, it will not be posted to CCLI. It means that if you have permission to perform the song from the artist, you do not have to post to CCLI. It means that if you do an original arrangement of a song in public domain, you do not have to post to CCLI. It means that if you report through your hymnal software (like the LSB Service Builder) you do not have to report to CCLI. With many CCM churches, that can reduce the CCLI requirement to less than half of the songs in any given service. At the very least, it points out that hymnal songs and all public domain pieces are not represented by the Top 25 (which is why Amazing Grace is never on the Top 25 even though almost everyone in the United States can hum the tune from memory.)

4. The Top 25 is based on number of reproductions and payouts, not per-capata usage. It is most popular by dollars and incidents of use not percentage of users or popularity of song.

5. There is no doctrinal test to get CCLI membership. A large percentage of the CCLI membership is made up of Oneness Pentacostals (who aren't even trinitarian) and other various heretical sects. These heterodox organizations skew the numbers in favor of their belief systems and artificially inflate the popularity of bad songs.

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