Wednesday greetings from our offices here in Franklin Park, Illinois.
For the past several months, we at World Library Publications have been faced with a choice. This has to do with the licensing of our music.
Many of you know how this works, but for those who don't, here goes.
When a parish, diocese, or institution wants to reprint or project a piece of music onto screens for use by the congregation, they have to obtain permission and secure a license to do so. Many of these entities purchase what we call a publisher's "annual license." These licenses cover the use of that publisher's music for a period of one year. During that year, the parish, diocese, or institution is required to report the use of that music in whatever form it has been distributed. The publisher receives those usage reports and maintains a database throughout the year to track that usage.
At the end of the year, the money received from the entities through the purchases of their annual licenses is distributed to the composers whose compositions were used and that usage reported during the year. The publisher retains a portion of that licensing "pool" to cover administrative and other expenses.
Licensing can occur in other ways as well: one-time usage, usage for a liturgical season, etc.
Several months ago, we at WLP learned that OCP and GIA (the two other large publishers of Roman Catholic liturgical music) had formed a new licensing company: One License. GIA had their own licensing arm, "One License," and OCP had its own, "LicenSing," each with its own set of member publishers. That new company would be the place that those who want to license music published by OCP and GIA and these other member publishers would go, kind of a "one-stop shop" for people who want to use music from those publishers.
Up until this point, parishes, dioceses, and institutions that wanted annual licenses to use music from WLP, GIA, and OCP had to purchase three annual licenses, one from each publisher. The reporting and tracking systems were separate as well. We at WLP have resisted joining either one of the original separate licensing arms of OCP and GIA simply because we wanted to make sure our composers were receiving the maximum portion of the licensing dollars through our own WLP annual license, without diminishing their portion through payment of an administrative fee to the licensing administrator.
With the "merger" of OCP and GIA's licensing arms, the picture changed considerably.
We had to take a good, long, hard look at this new picture. The driving force behind our decision was our clear mission statement here at WLP:
WLP serves and inspires the singing, praying, initiating Church.
We ultimately came to the decision to become a member publisher with One License precisely because doing so would help us move our mission forward; this was a decision made to better serve our customers, to better serve the singing and praying Church.
So now, those who hold a One License annual license will be able to have one place to find the music they need, download assembly versions of pieces, report usage, and listen to sound clips. Licenses are also offered for rehearsal tracks and pod casting and live streaming.
My largest concern throughout all of this has been for our WLP composers, many of whom I personally consulted as we pondered our decision. It is my hope, and I am truly optimistic about this, that because many, many more people will be exposed to the finest liturgical music published today by us at World Library Publications, the music of WLP's composers will be licensed, used, and reported much more often and by a much larger pool of Catholic and mainline Protestant parishes. This is a good thing.
So, beginning on March 1, 2017, WLP will be a member publisher of One License. Letters announcing our decision have been mailed to our composers and to our WLP annual license holders. The arrangement with One License is non-exclusive, which means that parishes can continue to hold a WLP annual license if they so choose and they can still come to us for all of the rest of their licensing needs.
A caution. Far too many parishes and parish musicians who purchase annual licenses simply do not report usage. Far too many times I have heard music directors say, "Oh, I have an annual license, which permits me to use any music from that publisher; reporting is a hassle; we've already paid our money, so what's the difference?" Folks, the difference is that if we don't know whose compositions you used, how are we to distribute those licensing dollars to that composer so that he or she can pay the mortgage or put shoes on the feet of their children? This is as basic as it gets. Please, please do not deprive those who create music that lifts hearts and souls to the Lord of the compensation to which they are entitled. It is not only a legal issue (annual licenses are legal contracts which require reporting), it is a justice issue.
Thanks for listening today.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.