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Music is a powerful method of worship for a lot of people. And as a filmmaker, finding the right music for your church videos can create an equally powerful emotional connection for viewers.
One part of that challenge is dealing with the fact that everyone worships differently. Or to be more specific, people can experience a closeness with God from a pretty wide variety of music styles and genres.
For some listeners, it might be a song from worship bands like Hillsong or Elevation. For others, it might be insightful songs by Phil Wickham or Tori Kelly. And other people are moved by radio hits from TobyMac or for KING & COUNTRY.
So how exactly do you choose one song for a video? How do you even know which kind of instrumental songs will help create those same quiet, connected moments with God?
First and foremost, let’s look a little more closely at what we think of as “Christian” music. Because in reality, that’s a pretty vague adjective since Christians are like everyone else and listen to all sorts of music.
In light of this fact, Christian music has branched out into a collection of more specific categories. You’re familiar with subgenres like inspirational music, worship music, and gospel music. All of these names capture a different aspect of Christian music, building the DNA for a much broader category.
But it’s hard to explore the meaning of this genre without looking way back in time.
Technically speaking, Christian music began with Gregorian chants and traditional hymns. You could argue it goes back even older, to David’s psalms in the Old Testament. But chanting monks are probably the first real “modern” iteration of music widely used by churches.
No, it’s not chanting, but this video provides a musical timeline of worship music over 500 years
Chants (and later, hymns) became a key part of how people practiced their faith. Before printed and translated Bibles were a thing, music was one of the only ways for commoners (or anyone who didn’t speak Latin, Greek, or Hebrew) to participate in collective worship.
Even now in the 21st century, worship continues to be a pivotal part of how we experience church and express gratitude, commune with God, and daily practice our faith.
But let’s assume that you aren’t interested in Gregorian chants and 18th century hymns for your video production needs.
There’s a good chance that what you do want is more of the inspirational worship style of music. In that case, we can jump forward a few hundred years to the origins of Christian contemporary music that really picked up momentum in the late 1980s/early 90s.
Unlike other music genres, Christian music relied less on a specific sound, tempo, or instrumentation. Instead, the identifying feature was the lyrics and message. That allowed a greater amount of diversity, which in turn meant artists could combine their preferred style with a powerful message.
It also makes it pretty difficult to list out popular elements of Christian music. And that only got more complicated as the genre continued to grow in popularity and variety.
Here’s a (super condensed) look at the development of Christian contemporary music
Serving as a transition between traditional hymns and worship songs, Christian contemporary music influenced both church culture and the wider music world. By mirroring some of the stylistic trends as secular music, “Christian contemporary” created a more accessible and modern sound that still encouraged moments of nearness with God.
And with churches leaning more into video production, Christian contemporary also provided an avenue for background music more in line with what people recognized from other film and video formats.
The result was simple: Christian music changed, at least in our general perception. And that altered the kind of sound that many churches and filmmakers want for their video production.
So with that in mind, let’s look at how filmmakers are using royalty free Christian music.
In some ways, it makes sense to assume that most Christian music would be included in the public domain. Music written for worship should be available for churches everywhere, right?
But sadly it’s not that simple. These songs — whether they’re inspirational, worship, gospel, or any other sub-category — are written by artists, mixed by producers, and distributed by publishers. And that means that people own these tracks just like they own any other piece of music.
When it comes to your video projects, remember that Christian music follows the same copyright laws as any other genre. That means that you can’t just drop your favorite worship songs into your video timeline or church livestream.
At least, assuming you want to protect yourself from copyright infringement.
Royalty free Christian music has become an increasingly popular genre. Whether it’s categorized as “worship music,” “inspirational music,” or something similar, you can definitely find — and license — high-quality music for all of your production needs.
For example, Soundstripe’s “House of Worship” playlist is a collection of tracks most often used by church video production and communication teams. And it’s a great place to start if you need some royalty free Christian music for a current project or as a regular resource to rely on for future videos.
The playlist is just the entry point into a catalog with thousands of radio-quality songs. (And yes, that includes a bunch of Christian, worship, and inspirational music.)
To help you keep your production costs down, Soundstripe is a royalty free music subscription service. Meaning that all you need is a subscription, and then you’ll have unlimited access to our entire library of songs: all the songs you could need for all of your projects.
So whether you work on baptism testimonials, pre-service montages, creative shorts, or content for a blog or social media, you’ll be able to inject the perfect amount of emotion and energy into any video.
Interested in reading more top resources and getting our best filmmaking tips and tricks? Here are a couple of our most popular articles from across the Soundstripe blog: