7 Ways to Make Money as a Christian Musician

•June 28, 2007 • 6 Comments

musicians don’t make money. They’re all starving.

WRONG.

You can make money as a Christian musician; at least enough to support your family. I’m not talking about getting rich, but if your goal is to get rich then I hope you don’t play Christian music anyway.

The first thing that all of us as artists have to do is define what “success” is. For some of us “success” is simply being able to get in front of a crowd and share our music and our message. That’s great! For some of us, success means selling 1,000 CDs. That’s a good goal, too.

My family has set the goal (with my band Boochie Shepherd) of making enough money so that my wife can stay home and so that we can personally sponsor 2 full-time missionaries. Once we reach that goal, I will feel that I have succeeded.

When you play , it can be really easy to fall into the mindset that because you are ministering to people you should be playing for free or for very little; and it’s even easier for to fall into that mindset. But I want you to consider carefully the following passage from 1 Timothy 5:18:

“Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain. And the worker deserves his wages.”

Paul is specifically talking about the fact that ministers deserve to be taken care of. If you believe that your music is a , then you fall into that category as well. Consider that the next time a church tries to low-ball you. Don’t be rude by any means, but help them to see that you do have and that you are using the talents that God has blessed you with to meet those expenses.

The problem is that a lot of churches have small budgets, especially if you are playing for the youth group. So how do you supplement your live performance fee ()? Here are a couple of quick suggestions:

1. Be sure you have at least one product to sell. As a general rule, if it’s for sale, people will buy it. And live shows sell more CDs than you’ll probably ever sell through any distribution channel. So go out tomorrow and get t-shirts, hats, stickers… something!

2. Consider working for other or artists in your area. Do you have a level of expertise in some particular aspect of the music business (booking, web design, promotion, etc…) that would allow you to charge a small fee to other in exchange for your services? Take advantage of that!

3. Get an Electronic Press Kit (EPK). This can save you a ton of money on physical press kits. Try Sonicbids or Crossdogs.

4. Don’t give away anything! Even your momma has to pay for a CD. If she’s not gonna buy it, who is? Your family and friends should be supporting you even when no one else is.

5. Ask the venue to take care of your expenses. I know that sounds elementary, but some people (especially less experienced artists) never even think about this. If you are playing for churches, taking care of your expenses is usually a very easy thing for them to do. Ask them to provide meals and lodging for the band. If you’re not too good to eat a pot-luck and stay at somebody’s house instead of a hotel, you can save some cash. This can also give you more room to be flexible with your honorarium.

6. Dedicate yourself to your craft. This is a no-brainer. You should be working every day to become a better musician, singer, speaker, songwriter… whatever it is that you are doing. Dedicate a portion of your day everyday to getting better at what it is that you do. Becoming a better musician will pay dividends in the long run.

7. Above all, seek God’s guidance. If you believe that has blessed you with the talent to play music, by all means, do it. But be sure to seek his guidance. We probably all know people that are using “God wants me to do this” as an excuse to be able to do what it is that they want to do. Be honest with yourself and seek God’s will for your life.

With my band, Boochie Shepherd, we have tried to implement all of these things and have seen enough profit that I can set some realistic goals of having my wife stay home and of us being able to support missionaries with our income. I hope that you can take some of the ideas that Boochie has used (however simple they may be) and put them to work for you!


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Passion and Music Ministry

•June 25, 2007 • 2 Comments

Have you ever been moved by someone else’s passion?

Last night, I had the privilege of seeing Shaun Groves. I found out about his concert, ironically, when he commented on my blog. Kind of weird circumstances, but very much a God thing, methinks. Not only was Shaun’s concert amazing (he’s funny on top of being a fantastic musician), but his stirred me like no other musician I have ever seen.

Shaun Groves and brandon mc of Boochie Shepherd

is an advocate of Compassion International. It turns out this guy has really made some noble sacrifices to do everything he can to support this organization. I highly recommend that you check them out. I don’t get any kind of compensation for saying this; it’s just a genuinely worthy cause.

I say all of that to say this: be passionate. Whatever it is that God has reserved you for, be passionate about it.

If you are a Christian musician, sing and play with passion.

If you are blessed with the talent of encouragement, do it with passion.

If you are a great speaker, do it with passion.

You see, passionate people make a difference in this world. The of the first century were so passionate that they were willing to die in order to let others know about forgiveness and unconditional love and a . Their passion has changed my life and, if you’re reading this, probably yours, too.

As a , you have a responsibility to be passionate about what you are doing. You are placed in front of an audience every night (or however often you play); you have a platform to speak beautiful things and to feed the spiritually hungry. Don’t ruin that influence by being afraid to be passionate about the way you play, talk, and perform.

As a member of Boochie Shepherd, I pray that my music and performances will inspire people in the same way that Shaun inspired me last night.

Thanks, Shaun. And God bless you.

brandon mc


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Is BurnLounge Going Up In Flames?

•June 24, 2007 • 2 Comments

If you don’t know what BurnLounge is, be glad.

I just came across an article here that claims that BurnLounge is about to go down, and in much less than a Blaze of Glory (thank you, Jon Bon Jovi). Apparently, the FTC is out to shut BurnLounge down permanently. You can find response here.

Essentially, BurnLounge is a business that is trying to steal some of the market share, only they are using a pyramid scheme to do it. They’re trying to sell people on the idea that they can get rich by selling music downloads. That ain’t happening, folks. Especially when you consider that they don’t even sell in a format that is compatible with the iPod, which is the portable music player of choice for pretty much everybody.

For the last couple of years, people on forums and blogs all over the ‘net having been debating whether or not BurnLounge was on the up and up or whether it was just another scam. (Check out some of the discussions here and here.)

There are some pretty reputable people in the business that are really into BurnLounge, but I don’t understand it. In the Christian music world, Shaun Groves has written some things about it. He has an article on his blog discussing it. I know that people from Rick Dees to Shaq own a BurnLounge store. And while that might add some weight to it for some people, here’s the bottom line: Shaq plays basketball and Rick Dees is a DJ. Neither of them are business men.

Make whatever decision you would like about it (and I hope you succeed), but as for me and my house (which includes Boochie Shepherd), we will stick with iTunes.


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Be Good, Be Interesting, or Be Lost

•June 23, 2007 • Leave a Comment

You can absolutely make a living as an independent .

Yes, I’m talking to you..

I’ve got the secret and I’m gonna share it with you right now:

You have to be either interesting, good, or both.

That’s about it. Seriously. Take this and a healthy dose of really hard work, and you can make a living.
Think about it… we all know of people who are making a living selling music that is neither very good or inspiring. Tell me that Britney Spears is an actual musician or that Ludacris writes compelling, moving lyrics… come on.

I took this idea from a sports radio talk show host named Colin Cowherd. Like him or hate him, the man is a genius. He says you either have to be interesting (like Britney Spears) or good (like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), but you don’t even have to be both, in order to draw enough attention to move product.

Think along these lines for your music career: be interesting, be good, or be both. I once read that you should proudly exclude some people from being your fans. That’s good advice. “If you love P.Diddy, you’ll hate Boochie Shepherd.” That automatically clues people in to what your music is all about. And it’s at least mildly interesting.

Kiss was never a good band. But, dude, they were interesting. A guy with a 64 foot tongue? And makeup? I’m interested.

Bela Fleck? He’s really good at the banjo? Not interesting. Which is why most of us have never heard of him, despite the fact that he’s one of the 5 best musicians on the planet right now.

It’ s something to think about, for sure. I know that Boochie Shepherd could do a much better job of being interesting. I feel like we’re pretty good songwriters and musicians. I think our radio play as an speaks to that. But let me tell you something, everytime Jeff (the bass player) wears some weird outfit on stage (like a green M&M costume, or a pumpkin suit, or a Superman costume, or that hideous leisure suit) he’s the one that everybody wants to talk to after the show..

brandon mc

Get the new album on iTunes now!


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Jeff, you amaze me…The Pumpkin Suit

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4 Top Music Sellers

•June 22, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Reprinted from Bob Baker’s

Indie Music Promotion Blog

Want to know where the most is being sold? According to a survey of 40,000 people by NPD Group, here are the top four music retailers in the United States today:

1) (15.8% of total U.S. music sales)
2) (13.8%)
3) (9.8%)
4) (6.7%)
Note that these figures include both online and brick and mortar store sales, and both CD and download sales.
Despite their steady decline in recent years, physical CD sales still dominate with 86 percent of all music sales.
The biggest surprise with this survey is that iTunes moved up for the first time to surpass Amazon in music sales.


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Bob Baker is the author of “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook,” “Unleash the Artist Within” and “Branding Yourself Online.” He also publishes TheBuzzFactor.com, a web site, blog and e-zine that deliver free music marketing tips and self-promotion ideas to musicians of all kinds. Visit
TheBuzzFactor.com
for more details.

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Video for “Vertical”

•June 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This may be the dumbest thing you’ll ever see, but at least it is one of the more interesting videos you’ve seen in a while…


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You can pick up the album at iTunes or at the Boochie Shepherd website.

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The clothes don’t make the heart of the man…

•June 20, 2007 • 1 Comment

Do you ever wonder what people are thinking?

As you probably know, I play in a Christian rock band called Boochie Shepherd. Being in a Christian band, you get to see the very things that this blog is all about on a daily basis.

I guess maybe I need to preface what I’m gonna say with this statement: I love the church. I love Jesus. I want everybody to live in a relationship with Jesus that meets their needs and fills their life. Maybe I should also say that I don’t know everything. In fact, I don’t know much of anything. I don’t claim to have all the answers to life or after life. I don’t claim to be a herald of the truth or a lighthouse of knowledge. I am not the final authority on religion. To be honest with you, I don’t really want anything to do with religion. Just give me Jesus. All that having been said, I proceed…

 

There’s a magazine called “The Gospel Advocate” that comes out every month. Sometimes they have some really great articles. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t read it all that much. But every now and then I come up with a free moment and someone else’s copy, so I’ll read some of it. This month, some of the articles are titled:

 

“The Lord’s Day is Under Attack.”

“Convenient Christianity”

“Dress Habits and Worship”

“Confusion About Women’s Roles”

“My Pilgrimage” (concerning instrumental music and it’s divisive nature)

 

Already, you can see what kind of magazine this is. The Gospel Advocate is out there to correct everybody. That’s great, but it assumes one thing: that they know every correct answer. They’d never say that out loud, but that’s clearly the implication. How can you correct someone if you yourself do not have the correct answer? And over the many years the Gospel Advocate has been published, they have covered the gamut of religious topics, spewing forth article after article about the Church of Christ and those in it who teach error. Now, let me say that sometimes there are some great and very relevant topics. For instance, in this issue there is an article about the grip that pornography is taking on America; very relevant and needed.

 

What I would like to actually talk about is the article concerning dress for worship. It’s by a fella named Ken Joines. I’m sure he’s a cool guy. He’s a retired minister, the article says. He’s not overly antagonistic or anything. But he makes some comments and puts forth some assumptions that are way off base:

 

“Our children show up for worship sloppily dressed, carrying their iPods, soft drinks, and cell phones so they can send and receive text messages during the service. 2 or 3 trips to the restroom is not uncommon. None of this is allowed at school. When your children are this undisciplined in dress habits, you can expect a corresponding lack of reverence in worship.”

–> –> –> –> 1. I have never in all my life seen a kid bring a Mountain Dew into worship service.

–> –> –> –>2. The assumption is that kids are the only ones who are not respectful during worship. Shall we discuss the adults that sleep during worship?

–> –> –> –>3. Of all the things discussed here, only one refers to dress; and that is often allowed at school.

–> –> –> –>4. The underlying complaint and problem is lack of discipline, not poor dress. Is there a lack of discipline? Yes. Is that the kid’s fault? Partially, but it starts at home with adults.

 

“When a man is being tried as a felon, he appears before judge and jury dressed in a suit and tie nearly every time. He may never have worn a suit before, but his lawyer thinks he makes a better statement when well dressed. When we go for a job interview, meet with the governor, or serve as pallbearer, we wear our best.”

  1. In each of these situations, we dress to impress (except the pall bearer). Luckily, we don’t have to impress God. We are completely unimpressive in every way. The fact that I am covered by Jesus’ blood makes me presentable, and no clothing changes that fact.
  2. Who are we to be making a statement to? God or people? God expects a broken spirit and a contrite heart, not a suit and tie.

 

He also makes the statement that Jesus had fine clothes to wear. He bases this on the fact that the Roman soldiers gambled for his garment at the crucifixion and that he can’t see Jesus showing up at the synagogue without paying attention to how he was dressed. His point is that “he had more respect for the sacred.” He says, “I resent it when someone hints that my Lord went around unkempt.”

  1. If Jesus did have nice things (probably not, but I’ll entertain it), he certainly would not have been wearing them to the crucifixion. That point is stunningly ridiculous.
  2. Just because someone can’t envision Jesus as something doesn’t really mean much. The Jews couldn’t have pictured the Messiah being born in a manager or coming without a sword in his hand, but he did it. Some people can’t imagine Jesus as anything but a white man; however, he was anything but white.
  3. Jesus was unkempt. He was poor, man. He didn’t have anything. He didn’t shave. He walked around barefooted or at the very most with sandals on. He probably stunk. He probably peed in the woods. And do you resent when the Lord says that John the Baptist was “unkempt”? He wore camel skins, ate disgusting stuff, and lived in the desert. He stunk and he was weird. Luckily, God chose to use him. Maybe we should look at that inference a little more closely…
  4. “he had more respect for the sacred.” And herein lies the problem. Our lives are our worship. Our existence is the sacrifice (see Romans 12:1-2, along with everything Jesus ever said). Our worship on a Sunday is part of that, yes. But we have become so focused on the 4 hours a week of “worship” and placed it on such a pedestal that we have missed the point completely. “Sacred” is not limited to worship. “Sacred” is a condition of the worshiper, not the worship. Until a heart can be sacred, a worship service never will be. Sunday is not sacred. But we have made it sacred via our cultural preferences and what momma and daddy always did. Therefore, we must be a little different on Sunday than we are on Monday. That, my friends, is the farthest thing from the heart-training that Jesus taught.

 

Here’s my favorite: ” ‘But our culture is relaxed-casual.’ Do we allow culture to dictate how we approach our heavenly Father?”

  1. Yes, actually, we do.
    1. We approach God in English. That’s cultural.
    2. Some approach God in suits and neck ties. That’s cultural. (The neck tie was invented in the 1880’s.)
    3. We use song books. That’s cultural.
    4. We sing in 4 part harmony. That’s cultural.
    5. We serve communion on trays from a “communion table.” That’s cultural.
    6. We have the preacher at a pulpit, elevated above the crowd, rather than seated. That’s cultural.
    7. Some of us clap, some of us don’t. That, like it or not, is cultural.
  2. If culture was not involved in worship, our worship would look very different, indeed.

 

A couple of closing statements:

  1. “Sloppy” is a very subjective term, as are “fancy”, “nice”, “proper”, “respectful”, “ugly”, “beautiful”, and “unkempt.”
  2. I respect where Ken is coming from here. He wants people to give God their best. I agree. My point is just that God sees my dress as secondary (if even that; scripture seems to indicate that he doesn’t see it at all, i.e, 1st Samuel 16:7 for Jehovah sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.) to the condition of my heart.

 

Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you agree. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I am always open to changing my mind. I want to learn and grow; so if you have knowledge, lay it on me.

 

brandon mc


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