Questions about how to record or stream worship services have come up several times in our Church and Web network. I thought it might be helpful if I brought information together in one place.
Many churches make audio recordings of their services. Cassette tapes were a common media for this for quite a few years, but now that technology is pretty much obsolete. Churches now make .mp3 files and/or CDs for their audio recordings.
Here are a few resources on audio recording.
Recording Your Worship Service - This is an excellent article about the physical setup of recording worship services from Technologies for Worship Magazine.
Audacity - A very popular free and open source software for making recordings. Their website is also a wonderful source for information and instructions. The instructions start at the very beginning, from how to connect your computer or recording device to the sound board at your church, how to import files, getting recordings to or from CDs, tapes, turntables, and iTunes. Check out their wiki for tutorials, tips and other documentation.
Sony Sound Forge - One of many paid software options for recording services. Sony Sound Forge is less than $100, so it might be a good fit for your budget. Another good feature of Sony Sound Forge is that it does not require a plug-in.
Cubase Studio - A paid software option, for editing audio files.
Recording Software Comparison Chart - A good chart comparing several of the top recording software programs.
More and more churches are adding video to their recordings. In these days of YouTube and streaming t.v. and movies, being able to see in addition to hearing the service is more affordable and accessible to churches of all sizes.
Below are some sources for information on video recording and streaming.
Cross the Streams - File Formats, Conversions and Workflow Methods for Web Streaming - Another excellent article from Technologies for Worship Magazine about types of files and strategies for streaming services. The sidebar gives an excellent basic explanation; the article itself gives a myriad of details.
Some people in the Church & Web discussion forum wrote in about streaming services. Several resources listed there are included below.
Ustream.tv (or Watershed, their ad-free paid version) - As they say on their site, “the leading live interactive broadcast platform. Anyone with an Internet connection and a camera can start engaging with their family, friends or fans anytime, anywhere.” The free version has ads. You can get a paid version of Ustream with no ads, or Watershed which gives you even more capabilities and control.
LiveStreaming Video to iPhone - Is a blog in this Church & Web network with information more specific to mobile streaming.
Often, the main reason churches record sermons is for shut-ins. As a simple, low-tech solution for a shut-in, our church purchased a low-cost .mp3 player for one of our members and we just copy our service to her player each Sunday.
For those who have a computer, you can post your .mp3 files to your website and shut-ins or others can listen online or download it manually to whatever device they wish.
Once you have your account set up in the iTunes store, it’s really a matter of uploading the .mp3 file to the blog you’ve set up to feed in, and putting in any titles, descriptions, etc. You’ll want to put a link to your iTunes store page on your church website, and perhaps also on your bulletin each week.
SermonCloud - A free mp3 services site for churches. Sermon Cloud hosts your mp3 files as well as giving you the ability to stream them, have people subscribe and comment on them and many other services.
CacheFly - A paid hosting service. CacheFly offers hosting of video and audio files and other large files, even entire websites. They are able to provide better performance in playing and downloading files.
If you are thinking of starting to record or stream your worship services, I hope the information and links in this article will help you figure out what to do. There are lots of choices, and lots of information. Please share anything you can add, and let us know how your recording/streaming project goes!