Comment of the day

From a face and name most of you would immediately recognize:

Just read your post talking about union players on southern gospel sessions. Well, there are a couple of reasons why [so few union players work in sg]. Some of them are the very same reason why I won’t even think of touring ever again in Southern Gospel music. The main reason is money. Southern Gospel records do not sell as many units as other genres of music do, therefore will not pay as much money to the players as a country record will. Furthermore, even if they do agree to pay a rate, such as double scale, then there is also the issue of even getting paid. Working in the music business in Nashville taught me the biggest lesson: Christian artists are THE WORST at ripping people off. They either want it for free or they want it dirt cheap and then a lot of times they don’t pay what they agreed to pay in the beginning. Another reason is because of such tight budgets in Christian music, they push to get such a large number of songs into a single session. Working at such fast pass often makes the recording process a drag for players that are used to having more freedom to expand on a song. Look, I love Southern Gospel music! I enjoy playing it! I do not enjoy the people in it, nor the way they treat people! there are a few people in the business that I still respect and would work with on a limited basis. These people are real people and real businessmen. Now I have been in both environments, Christian and secular music. I much rather work in secular music, where people are treated fairly and with respect than work in Christian music, where you are backstabbed, black listed, under paid, under appreciated, and ripped off! And people wonder why Union players don’t show up more on Christian albums.

Email this Post


  1. JLS wrote:

    That is a very sad commentary on those who profess Christ. If the ones doing this are truly about ministry they would seek to minister to the musicians as well. After all, we are to owe no man anything but to love him. We certainly shouldn’t steal from him by not giving him his due.
    It certainly saddens this pastor.

  2. BUICK wrote:

    WOW! What a scathing indictment against SG artists! I am ashamed on their behalf.

    Until I started reading the postings on this site, I had assumed that the people I looked up to on the elevated stage were also people I could look up to in life.

    I’ve been impressed by those bloggers who seem to know many of these artists personally. Is there ANYONE who is the real deal? Do ANY OF THEM walk the talk? Is there NO ONE that I can admire personally as well as musically? From this posting it seems as if they aren’t even very professional, much less Christlike.

    How very, very sad.

  3. Montana Man wrote:

    If Christian artists and labels are notorious for not paying royalties to song writers, why should they stop there? It should be no surprise if they rip off the musicians as well. Who else can they screw? Drive-offs from the diesel pump? Oh, that might get a criminal complaint.

  4. Southern Gospel Arti wrote:

    First let me say that I am a full time Southern Gospel Artist. I do use only union players on our projects. I do pay them what they ask. I do pay all of my bills when they are due. I do live my life the way that scripture teaches us to do. I also know that there are many artist that do not do any of these things that I just mentioned. With that being said, let me ask this. There are many Black people that kill and still. Does that mean we should dislike all of them or judge all of them? There are many Mexicans that are living here in America illegally, but should we deport all of them for that? Then why is it that when a few “Christian artist” do bad, we suddenly think they are all that way? I am not in the same classifacation as the ones that are stealing, cheating, lying, cursing, and homosexuals! Lets be sure not to act as everyone is the same!

  5. Brandon Shreve wrote:

    I don’t believe the intention of the original poster was to expose all SG artists as frauds or to say their all bad. But as someone who has had my share of bad experiences you tend to become a little more careful of who you work with. In my experience, alot of the things mentioned are sadly very true in alot of cases.

    I now work in both SG and secular music and to say that secular musicians are generally easier to deal with, wouldn’t be a lie. I tend to find more secular artists who are more concerned with professionalism, togetherness and making good music than SG artists. I can tell you that the experience in working with someone with the right mindset and ideas creates a better experience, and when an SG artist comes to me with that it’s always much more enjoyable than any secular project. Sadly, it doesn’t happen that often in my neck of the woods.

    Thats not to say (to BUICK) that there still aren’t a few good people to look up to in this industry. But you have to make up your mind yourself about who these folks are. I can tell you till I’m blue in the face about how certain folks have done me wrong, but sometimes you have to learn for yourself. More often than not I find folks to look up to in my local church or in part time groups. But your experiences and mine may differ, and if you take something good out of someone who I’ve had bad dealings with, who am I or anyone else to stop you.

  6. Diva0427 wrote:

    It should be noted that the producer of the album is usually the one that hires the musicians in the first place, so he/she is the one with the relationship w/ the musicians. Granted, the producer should ALWAYS get money up front from the artist so that he/she can pay the musicians properly…union or non-union.

  7. Edie wrote:

    In my many years in the industry, I have found these comments to be true. I could count the exceptions on one hand, with fingers left over.

  8. Tele_D_Trooth wrote:

    #4, I think some of the others are merely trying to get a stir going. We know there are many who are the “real deal”.

    Besides, if we keep our eyes focused on Christ, as we are told to by the Word, we won’t have to worry about “looking up” to ANYONE on this earth.

    Now back to the unfolding brou-ha-ha…

  9. Jim T wrote:

    In response to Buick, I know a man who conducts a lot of business with SG artists, and he has mentioned several that don’t like to pay. NOthing would be gained by naming them.

    But he also mentioned some that do conduct their business wisely and well, So, in response to your question if anyone is the real deal, let me mention one in particular that he commended (although he is by no means the only one), and that is Reuben Bean of the McKameys.

  10. BGC wrote:

    Same theme, different approach - Promoter puts on a SG concert selling tickets in advance, Come the day of the concert realizes he is way under budget so asks or even worse tells the performing artist to ask for a love offering. Sure most born again Christians understand but to the unbelievers, the folks who need the gospel the most, confirms what they already believe. For years we had one such promoter in the Richmond Virginia area. The promoter also worked for the only SG radio station around. To this day there are no SG Radio stations within 75 miles of Richmond and getting people to attend a concert is like pulling teeth. Gaither does pretty well at the Coliseum (70% full) but many come from out of town because he usually only comes to VA twice a year (once to Richmond or Hampton and once to N. VA). Just my thoughts.

  11. Practical Fellow wrote:

    Being a SG artist does not automatically qualify the individual(s) to be model Christians and ministers. BUICK (#2), you don’t need to admire any of these folks personally - because you can’t realistically know them. You largely can know only what they market for you to know about them in their ads and their interviews. To admire them is to admire their marketing strategy and PR.

    SG music is a business. It’s a business that invokes the name of Jesus, but for good or bad, it’s still business. Better to look for people in your church and your community who represent and model what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Admire those folks who live the life every day in front of you.

    SG artists are just people with musical talent who have chosen to work in this particular industry. Many aren’t preachers or ministers with extensive Bible training. They simply sing music that can inspire and encourage. So we support those who create quality music and who portray Christ in an appropriate manner. But to elevate them to some kind of celebrity status only sets them - and us - up for a fall.

  12. Janice wrote:

    #11 Practical Fellow: Those are very wise words!

  13. Ima Fan wrote:

    What PF and #12 said.

  14. Chuck Peters wrote:

    From the info provided.. I don’t recognize the name.. or the face. Maybe Avery just made it up?

  15. SG Doc wrote:

    #2 and #9

    I know first hand that The McKameys have and do always pay their writers. And I am sure that there are many others.

    And I’m not laying blame elsewhere for artists not paying what they owe, However it’s the same avenue when the church these artists go to and perform. The church will cringe at promising a minimum plus offering. Then sometimes the church will give the minimum and then keep the rest for themselves. I know of a group that had to leave the church and track down the pastor for the offering!


  16. thom wrote:

    c’mon moderator - tell us who posted this. who is the “face and name that most of us wold immediately recognize?”

    as #4 “diva” said - it’s up to the Producer to hire the players and then Pay them. I think good business sense should always be used - Know who you are dealing with. Check references.

    It’s sad to think that someone would be ripped off while making “christian” music, but the reality is there are crooks and con men in every business. Beware of wolves in sheeps clothing.

  17. Ben Harris wrote:

    Actually it is not up to the producer to pay the session players. The liability tree is as follows:

    1. label
    2. artist or owner of group
    3. session contractor (person who hired)
    4. producer
    5. studio

  18. Trent wrote:

    My group has made two recordings since 2005 using some of the top players in Nashville on each record. In both instances, the producer either had my money up front before the sessions or I paid the owner of the studio for all studio time & session player fees before leaving the premises. This is a pretty straightforward and simple way of doing things. Either pay the money up front before the sessions or pay the day of the sessions. That way, everybody leaves the studio happy. Then you are ready to move to the next stage (vocal sessions) with everything up to that point already paid for.

  19. Chuck Sims wrote:

    My group has always depended upon the recording studio to #1 recommend musicians, and #2 recmmend how much to pay them. Then we simply pay the bill! We also usually “tip” the musician if they do more than expected. We find that these people will always work for us again and again if they are treated well. Maybe those artist in question should try this. You can always “draw more flies with honey than with vinegar!!”

  20. ST wrote:

    There is another side to this. I’ve been apart of 20 to 30 recordings from the perspective of SG artist and producer.

    The first thing I try to do is get the musicians that I feel understand the style that I want. So you call the musicians or have the engineer or producer to call and book these guys. That’s when the price per musician is set.

    Most studio musicians are very nice and try to make sure the artist/producer is satisfied when they rehearse the song usually one time before cutting it. I always let the session leader and the musicians decide on which instrument will fill which verse or chorus. Usually they have wonderful fresh ideas that are great. However, there are times the producer or artist hears something different from the musician that the artist/producer really wants. Like I said most studio musicians will comply with the request and do their best to satisfy the producer or artist.

    But then there are other studio musicians that really seem to have a problem with an artist or producer telling them to try something. I’ve seen a couple get an attitude and treat the artist like they were stupid for making such a suggestion. Those musicians that do that seem to forget who hired them and who is paying them - the artist. If musicians want to get an attitude, that’s okay, because the artist does not have to hire them again.

    At the end of the day all the studio musicians I have hired have always got their paycheck for the amount the engineer/producer/or musician told me to pay them.

    I also know studio musicians only want to do 10 songs in a days time. However, if I’m willing to pay extra per song and they know I want 2 to 4 extra songs before we go into a session, then they should be willing to do it or tell me to get another musician that is willing to do it.

    I’ve know studio musicians who are friends that would purposely waste time between songs or doing overdubs just so they would not have to do the extra songs.

    What really is aggrevaiting is when these studio musicians will not speak to the artist or won’t even try to be friendly with them. Like I said, these are the exceptions, but it does exist. Usually the session leader is the friendliest - you know, talking to you like a person even when the subject is not about the session. Maybe it’s because the session leader gets paid doubled.

    Maybe the reason musicians get an attitude is because they did not get paid by a SG artist and they think all SG artists are the same. If a musician gets an attitude with me or my artist, he will not be hired to play on the next project. I’ve even seen producers or engineers go talk to musicians with bad attitudes and make them apologize.

    I know one engineer who owns a studio who asks the artist and producer if they were pleased with the musicians and if they were treated right. If not, he does not have the musician back if he feels the complaint is legitimate.

  21. Ben Harris wrote:

    SG sessions are almost always booked as “Limited Pressing” scale. That means that each player, except session leader, is paid about $225.00 per 3 hours. (This total comes from all the associated fees but does not include cartage) The leader is paid double. Limited pressing means that only a certain number of CD’s will be released from this session date. I believe the total is 5000, but I am not totally sure of that number. When the pressing will be more than that, or when the sales have garnered re-orders that make the total over that, then the union contract calls for paying the session players the remaining difference between “limited pressing” and “master scale”. The latter is roughly double the price, or about $450 per 3 hours total. This still does not allow for the selling of sound tracks or re-use by another artist other than the artist name on the original contract. At no time does anyone artist, producer, or studio “own” the intellectual rights of the session players beyond the scope of the original contract. Of course, all of us know of tracks being leased and sold, but that does not make it legal, just hard to police. Also to book session players you must be a signed signatore to the union, or someone on your behalf must have this license.

  22. Diva0427 wrote:


    For indie projects, it is up the producer to book the players. If a label is dealing with the project, then you are correct. I was coming at it from an independent artist perspective.


  23. Diva0427 wrote:

    Ben…my bad. I’m not reading carefully this morning. However, it has been my experience that the artist will pay the producer and the producer will then pay the musicians. If the producer/artist decides to hire the Nashville String Machine (for example), the artist again pays the producer who pays the contractor who then pays the individual players. Again…coming at it from an indie perspective and experience. I hope my first comment didn’t sound snappy or anything b/c that was not my intention! Sorry!

  24. Josh C wrote:

    SG does definitely use Union musicians. Are you blind? Can you not read credits? Just about every SG project has the same couple of players. Dirk Johnson or Jason Webb on piano/keys (Both Union players), Kelly Back or Mike Severs on Guitars, Bobby All on acoustic (All Union Players), Dave Hungate, Dave Pomeroy on bass (union players), Mike Johnson or Sonny Garrish Steel (both union players), Wanda Vick, Glen Duncan Fiddle/Mandolin (both session players). Come on guys, where did this misinformation come from? All Major Label Southern Gospel projects use union players, they all use the same players!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked * Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.