Saturday, July 07, 2007

Virtual Wedding Singers

I have HAD IT!!! Starting about five years ago I began to notice a trend toward couples wanting some sort of pre-recorded music as part of their wedding ceremony. At my previous church, we did not have the technology for this, so it was easy to say "sorry, no."

But my current church does have a CD player than can play through the sound system. We purchased it primarily to be able to record sermons, choir music, etc. on CD--the fact that we could play CDs that way in the sanctuary was an afterthought.

I've worked with several couples that had some song or other they wanted to play. If it was appropriate for a Christian wedding ceremony, I agreed. Then more and more soloists for weddings were showing up with a "karaoke" track recording they wanted to use as their accompaniment.

But last night took the prize. For six months of meeting and planning, the bride's cousin has been lined up to play piano for the processional and recessional. But the bride showed up at the rehearsal last night with the news that there had been a death in her cousin's husband's family and she would not be able to play after all. They had it all covered though--she handed me a CD with pre-recorded music to substitute.

I was NOT PLEASED, but faced with the prospect of scrapping family plans to spend the rest of last night and this morning beating the bushes for an organist, (I alreay knew ours was not available), I reluctantly agreed. But I think it makes the whole ceremony feel like a tacky, early 80's music video.

I'm about to mount the dias and declare Pastor Rebel's Complete Ban on Pre-Recorded Music during weddings. (I think we could do this based on legal issues alone. Aren't there penalties for playing commercial recordings in public without permission?) Our wedding coordinator says she will back me up on this and gladly. But before issuing the decree, I thought I'd check in with you all and see how you are handling this.


Kathryn said...

Oh dear....we allow it here, but have had some pretty grim renditions of pretty terrible music. Sadly we have a performing rights licence (the church is used for concerts of recorded music) so we can't play that card.
It's the same problem all over again at funerals. One friend of mine got caught out when the family produced a CD just before the service...of the conga! She assumed it was because the deceased had been a sociable party animal type - turned out that it was actually because none of the family were remotely sorry he had died...they followed the coffin out conga-ing down the aisle. Nightmare!
On another note, I'm hugely envious that you have a "wedding co-ordinator",- we have a chain of people to ensure that as much as possible gets lost en route, and no co-ordination whatsoever ;-)

Teri said...

we generally don't use recorded music unless it's been pre-approved by the pastor, organist, AND wedding coordinator. For all three of us to approve is time consuming (and unlikely) so people generally give up when we tell them that.

I did a wedding in another church a couple of weeks ago. The couple had decided to use the church organist, and he was at the rehearsal and everything--and then they walked in to the rehearsal (late, I might add) saying they wanted to use this CD they had made of *wedding music they found on the internet*. gag. I felt so sorry for the organist. Even better, there did not appear to be a CD player in the sound system, so they brought a high-power stereo, basically, and played the CD anyway.

oh my, it was awful, and there was very little I could do since it was not my church and there was no wedding coordinator there! But it made me die inside a little bit, hearing the downloaded-then-burned music. ugh.

Gord said...

THe majority of weddings I have done have used pre-recorded music for the simple reason that our church musicians do not play for weddings and there are few other options.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Regarding the rights, Kathryn I'm curious about your performing rights license. Is it other than CCLI? Because with CCLI you have to clear each piece not in the catalog and not all pieces, especially commercial ones, are approved for all venues. Although it's highly unlikely you're gonna get caught. But...if you did get caught I hear it's expensive.

Anyway, I'd say that you really would have to used canned music if there's no other alternative, but you can certainly retain preapproval rights. Unless you can prearrange organists on standby.

cheesehead said...

I don't need canned, tacky 80's music. My organist is more than happy to play those things on the piano for couples. She has her own tacky, ugly, nasty 80's, top-40 play list she hands couples herself.

And--since she threatened (in front of the EP) to rip the church a new one if I ever critiqued her music, it does mean that I die a little inside every time there is a wedding at St Stoic.

PPB said...

Well, we are a different situation since it's a college chapel with a music school and a law school. We say no. No pre-recorded music to anything, EXCEPT---
weddings are all rentals (unless it's a member of the church), so they have to buy their own insurance policy in order to have the ceremony--which they gladly do--surprise to me--so if they want to use pre-recorded music, they have to obtain the copyright permission to "perform" it. We have a copyright permission to perform and record music from worship, but it doesn't cover weddings since weddings are not open to the broad public and are not advertised in the newspaper. So they have to buy rights as a "private concert" which is more than buying rights for worship---basically, I do not know of one person who has done it. It's just too much hassle. And we have one of the best organs (and organists) in the state, so why bother.

I did have one bride who started making noise about her cousin and a Christian song with a pre-recorded tract, and I told her that song would be lovely at the reception, as a grace. hook, line, sinker.

Alex said...

Do it! Do it! Say NO! I hate canned music.

Jane said...

I HATE canned music too, this particular issue worth the energy and effort? I also don't like tacky, over-abundant flowers, bridesmaids' dresses that look like nightgowns, colored tuxedos, unity candles, or using a Bible passage about the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law to describe marital commitment - but there are other battles to fight, and I ain't winning any of these!

PPB said...

I think there are differences, Jane, between hating ugly bridesmaid's dresses, and the more worship-oriented parts---scripture passages and music.

The music thing is tricky. So long as it's worship music, it's hard to ban, per se. But the thing is this (okay the things are this): copyright/public performance issues, and are we doing a CD to avoid paying the organist? Those folks don't make a lot of money, and often count on wedding income to help bridge gaps. Yes, yes, poor couples are an exception. But generally, if a couple is blowing x amount of dollars on a reception, they can afford to pay the long-suffering organist, too.