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Old 01-23-2003, 06:42 PM   #1
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How much do Christian artists make?

Hey I was just wondering how much do christian artists make? Like say semi-popular bands like FFH, Ten Shekel Shirt, PC3 etc

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Old 01-27-2003, 04:35 AM   #2
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I'm in a Christian Rock band in the Christian music industry. My band (which will remain unnamed... this isn't a plug... besides, my industry people would kill me for saying all of this, so I'll say it anonymously) is probably on the C-level. We're signed to a Christian independant label, our album has fantastic distribution, our first single peaked in the top ten on Christian Rock radio. Our second single is making it's way up there, but not quite yet. We tour about 3 months out of the year so far.

I say that my band is on the C-level because we're pretty fresh in the market. Bands on the B-level include the bands you listed in your post. A-level bands are bands like Audio Adrenline, Petra, and Third Day.

I'll say that unless you are in an A-level band, you probably have a part-time job when you're not touring. Our band can barely make enough to keep our families housed and fed. Most of us have VERY supportive wives that bring home most of the money. My wife works two jobs, our singer's wife (who supports a four-person family) works 50-75 hours a week, our bass player, like me, is constantly in search of temporary jobs that he can quit to be able to go on tour when our label or booking agent requires it.

So here's my synopsis: There are two reasons that someone would want to be in the Christian music market. The first one is that he/she wants to market the music that they write. To make money, in essence. This person writes overtly Christian music and lyrics and would most likely be able to sell their music in this market.

The other reason would be for ministry. This person wants to make a difference in the world and chose the Christian music market because they thought that they would affect more lives in that way. They assumed that since it was the 'Christian' music market, people would understand their mission and goal to reach unsaved people.

So here's the problem... the money made in the Christian market is all in the top rung. Only the A-level writers, bands, and musicians make enough to survive. So unless you're there, you'll be a hobbiest trying to make ends meet.

The problem with the second reason to be in the Christian music market (ministry) became obvious to me very quickly. You'll play a ton of Christian festivals, churches, youth groups, and other christian venues. All of these places have audiences that are 90-95 percent Christian. So you end up preaching to the choir most of the time. Who listens to Christian radio? Christians do. Who buys Christian CDs? Christians do.

So I ask... why be in the Christian market? If your reason is to make money, there's more to be made in the general market. If your reason is to minister, get strong in the Lord and minister to the lost in bars, clubs, and mainstream venues and don't market yourself as a christian band.

And to answer your question directly, I made personally made $1020 last year. That's ALL from touring, nothing from record sales or royalties. No signing bonus, no up-front cash to help buy equipment or anything. It's fair to say, though, that although we were signed for the entirety of last year, our album didn't release until summer and we started touring then. I'd say that the money I made was off of about 6 months of active work. We toured about two and a half months in that time equalling about 10 weeks. That boils down to about $100 a week on the road. Just about enough to exist on, but not enough to send back home to help pay bills.

I hope that I didn't get to over-answery. Let me know if you have any other questions!
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Old 01-27-2003, 07:57 AM   #3
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Thanks for an eye-opening post. God's best to you and your family.
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Old 01-27-2003, 05:04 PM   #4
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I agree, that was a great post. If you don't mind me asking, why are you in the Christian music market? You gave two reasons, and then said they were both bad...
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Old 01-27-2003, 11:43 PM   #5
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Yeah, that was very insightful.

A good book to read concerning Christian music and artists (it's a novel) is Wind In The Wheat by Reed Arvin.
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Old 01-28-2003, 12:39 AM   #6
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There are some Christian bands that play a lot of shows to secular crowds. It can be quite a ministry. At the same time, There is another reason to be a christian musician. The edification of the church. I think that this is a very valid and good reason.
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Old 01-28-2003, 02:31 AM   #7
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Why am I in the Christian music market? I have to say that in this case, hindsight is 20/20. The reason I got involved here is because I thought that I would have a bigger impact on the world. My friend and I started this band when I was in High School and there was a ton of pressure from youth pastors, area festivals, and parents to make us an exclusive 'Christian Band'. It wasn't until I became an adult and realized for myself that Christ didn't spend His time preaching to the choir, He went out to where the masses were and met them where they were. By that time, though, we had pretty much established ourselves as a Christian band and it was hard to break that stigma (and be able to get into bars and clubs). After a couple years of trying, we played our first bar. We weren't ready and God really made that clear. After a line-up change, we decided that we would market ourselves more to the general market. It was too late, though. We got enticed by a Christian label that said that they were interested in pushing us to both markets, but ended up only focusing on the Christian market. It wasn't in the contract, so we live with it.

Still, though, musicians in the Christian market can have an impact in people's lives. I'd be a fool not to admit that. It's just that I sometimes feel like I could be doing more and influencing more people to Christ (ala POD). But my career is fresh and I've got plenty of time. I'm certainly not throwing in the towl. I can make a HUGE difference where I'm at, which is where I believe God has placed me.

I'm sorry if I sounded so negative in the last post. I think there IS a place for the Christian music market, but it's getting a little out of hand. Oh well...
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Old 01-28-2003, 02:43 AM   #8
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I want to play music... It's what I love, and it's what I believe God has called me to do. Of course, I would rather be going out, playing a great show for a mixed crowd, and seeing non christians get saved. Unfortunately, with the styles of music that I play, that isn't likely. Anyhow, one thing that I have to say about money is that if God wants you there, he's going to provide. I couldn't care less about being rich. Being famous, yeah, I could go for that, because the more people who know who I am, the more chance of me making a positive impact on their lives, or more accurately, Christ making a positive impact through me. Aaaanyhow, that was just a long shpiel about nothing.
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Old 01-28-2003, 11:42 AM   #9
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Originally posted by Art
Unfortunately, with the styles of music that I play, that isn't likely.
What kinds of styles?
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Old 01-28-2003, 01:37 PM   #10
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I must say that Christian music can have a huge impact on lives of Christians. You might not see as many people come to Christ directly through the medium of Christian music, but it can make a big difference in the lives of shallow or hurting Christians.
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Old 01-28-2003, 01:40 PM   #11
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Well... I play some pretty mellow stuff. I am getting more into playing upbeat stuff, but I'm honestly not good with it at all yet. If I had to compare myself to anyone, I would say John Mayer, but that's a totally unfair comparison, because he doesn't suck
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Old 01-29-2003, 11:37 AM   #12
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hi, i usually just stick to the guitar forum but thought i'd check this out too..anyways, the person who posted above what he makes can be a good indication of what you're up against in the Christian industry. however, it's not true for everyone...i'm not getting paid and 'in' the industry right now, but i'm not completely ignorant of it either as i've heard plenty from people who are in the business, etc...

anyways, if you're in band you have to split everything, and on top of that you have more expenses...so it can be harder to make ends meet....solo artists can do better...
let me give you another idea of what someone can make...nichole
nordeman released to the public that she made around $20,000 in her first year in the industry...
also to note, most touring artists have a 'rider' in their contract which is a list of what the artist wants you to have ready for them...this usually covers motel rooms, food, equipment, etc....

i think a lot of people get this idea that it's all glamour and glitz in the music industry but it's not...once gain, i haven't toured yet or anything but i'm going but what i've heard from people who have and such...it's been really eye opening to me....for instance, one band in particular that openly speaks of this kinda stuff i would've thought would be doing just fine financially b/c of their VERY loyal following...however, they have struggled...i think they're doing alright now though...
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Old 02-04-2003, 09:14 AM   #13
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I heard a soundbite from a really knowledgeable guy in the industry named John Thompson, that a lot of bands are on the verge of breaking up because they just can't make a go of it financially. Based on what supergroovy's been saying, I'm sure we can all pretty much gues the type of band they're talking about. After all, even though we don't have like a sheet of paper in front of us that tells us how much each band made last year, we all sort of have a sense of where people sit in the hierrarchy of success, and I imagine it's probably fair to assume there's a dollar amount attached to that.

Instead than just throwing in my 2 cents about who makes what, I think think I'd rather say that if there's a band who's music you really dig, why not go out and buy their cd or buy tix to their show. If you really like them and you want to see them do well, then it's important to support them, or else they might not be around as long as you'd hope. It's simple economics. We vote with our pocket books every day. Everyone's vote may be different, but no less important.
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Old 02-04-2003, 01:13 PM   #14
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But do they really get money from record sales or do the stupid record companies take it all?
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Old 02-04-2003, 02:40 PM   #15
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But do they really get money from record sales or do the stupid record companies take it all?
The record labels take money from album sales until the amount from sales is more than the amount of money that the record labels advanced to the artist/band in order to make the album. This advance usually includes enough for studio rental costs, producer and engineer salaries, instrument rentals (if needed), studio musician salaries (if needed), promotion and marketing, etc. Think of the advance as a type of loan. The label gives the artist such-and-such amount of money so that the artist can record their album, and the artist agrees to pay back such-and-such amount of money out of the revenue from their album sales. Once the advance has been recouped (entirely paid back), then the artist actually starts to make money from sales.

It is interesting to note that recoupment only occurs from revenue made from sales... merchandising, personal appearance, ticket sales, etc is the artist's after they pay the appropriate percentages to their managers, booking agents, concert promoters, etc.

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