Please help me grapple with a question!

by Mike Burn on September 23, 2008

When we started the FW site, about 10 years ago, one of the first (and easiest) decisions we made was to make all of the songs available for download for free. This included MP3 files, backing tracks, lyrics, guitar chords and sheet music. As a small, relatively unknown, non-profit ministry, it seemed to me to be a very effective way to get the songs out, and it has been an exciting journey ever since, seeing where the songs have ended up.

Of course we do also record and sell CD’s of the songs (7 so far), and we have been assisted in that process by long-term partner, ICC Records, who act as our publisher and distributor. As we plan for the next FW recording, ICC have made a request that we stop making the FW songs freely available, as they feel that it detracts from selling CD’s, and songbooks/sheet music. They also suggest that with CD sales down in general, in the secular and christian “markets”, making the songs and albums available on iTunes is a better approach than making them available for free.

In other words, if you wanted to get hold of one of our songs in future, you may need to pay 79p (or 99 cents) for the song, and maybe £1.49 for the sheet music. My worry is that while some people may be happy to pay that, and so support the FW ministry (which I stress again is a non-profit ministry), and also support ICC who are themselves a charitable company, others may be put off and not get to hear or use the songs.

So, before making a decision on their request, I wanted to get some feedback from visitors to this site, and if you have a moment to send me an email with your frank thoughts, comments and suggestions on this tricky subject, then I would be very grateful.

Thank you!
Mike

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

inewington September 23, 2008 at 10:27 pm

I think it’s great that your motivation is to enable worship. Worship music has become too much of a business and it’s driving us in some directions we probably wouldn’t otherwise think of going.

I applaud you for making your songs freely available – keep it up. Make it plain that copyright still requires CCLI for use in church and MRL for copying – that way you get the royalties you deserve.

You could perhaps ask for donations if the method of making them is easy.

dfinnan September 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Hi,

I’ve used your fine music to help our smaller churches with backing tracks. They are wonderful. We don’t mind paying for this in mp3 or wav. As long as the costs do not become excessive, as many music sites are today, you have our business and friendship. Keep up the good word and God honoring music that truly is “worship.”

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