Quote of the day

From reader DD:

We can all moan and complain about the state of SG music, but in reality it comes down to the fans. People who expect a group to show for “love offering” (and there is little love in it), but this same schmo will crab and complain when he doesn’t get his annual 3-4% raise at the five and ten where he works. Come on, simple economics have made this the kareoke industry that it is. You can call it ministry (it is), but the production level is no higher than kareoke at the local watering hole. The fans who will pay $40-80 to see Kenny Chesney or Hannah Montana but expect the Perry’s, Greater Vision or the Kingsmen to sing for a love offering are the reason for the state that it is in. Period. Give me Jesus, but make him cheap so I can still afford to get my groove on at the club later. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek)

Exactly. That said, I actually don’t think the fans going to the club afterwards (you know who you are) or the Kenny or Hannah fans are the ones mainly responsible for the decline in demand for good live gospel music (which is the context in which this comment was made). These people are used to paying for good entertainment of whatever sort and though they might complain (as we all do, even when we still fork the cash over) about how much concert tickets cost, fundamentally they’d “get” what they were paying for. The problem is with the people who want to “have church” at every gospel concert because it’s free, or close enough to it. These are the same people who wax pietistic about building of the kingdom through song in order to make themselves feel better about having stiffed the love offering plate with a measly five when it passed by. Of course many of the people who say these things really mean them and are plenty generous, but too often people talk about being rich in faith and hope and love, as the song says, because you don’t have to open your wallet to get to that stuff.

Update: Just to be clear, Kenny Chesney was DD’s example. I nearly wreck the car trying to change the station as quickly as possible whenever Chesney comes on the radio. His poseur country voice is bad enough (he’s like the male Reba … country singers trying to fulfill the image that people who aren’t from the country have of hicks and hillbillies), but then there’s that preposterous imitation of a suburban cowboy persona … it’s like a bunch of frat boys and cheerleaders got together at Senor Frogs one night with an image consultant and workshopped the perfect confection of “country” affectation and vocal nasality. ooo ooo … and put one of those cute little tropical white-bead necklace thingies on him. Ick. Not that his act or sound is that much worse than a lot of other mainstream country these days. It’s just differently bad in a way that seriously bugs.

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  1. ST wrote:

    I over heard some people talking about Kenny Chesney coming to Columbia, SC. One said that she went every year and the tickets were about $74.00 each last year. The other told her the price went up to about $125.00 a ticket this year because they needed a bigger building because the other always sold out. The lady who went every year concluded she could not go for that price. However, she felt that he must have added some other top act to open for him and that was why the price had went up (her conclusion).

  2. RF wrote:

    Case in point…

    Everything done for the Lord should be free in some people’s eyes. I’ve been to love offering concerts where people gleefully passed the plate empty to the next person with a smile on their faces. Why? They pay for CATV, DirecTV, the “Extra Innings” package and all sorts of entertainment, but stiff the sg groups because it’s “Church.”

    I don’t get it, but then again, I don’t get much of this. Sell tickets and it’s highway robbery. Have it for free and they show up and don’t pay? I must be missing something here.

  3. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Are we talking about the same thing?


    And we complain that we have to pay $27-$35 for a 4-6 group, 3-4 hour concert in a secular venue.

  4. Lynn wrote:

    Apparently, something must be working for country music because they are making money (where some in Southern Gospel can’t even stay on the road finacially. Personally, I believe it is the recording companies doing a lot of promoting for country. Seems they(the country recording companies) go looking for new artists and put lots of money behind them because they know the artist will make a lot of money with CD sales and it will be worth it. I talked about this on one of the forums and a few people thought I was crazy so I dropped it. I guess they don’t get it.
    This may not be the only reason but it is a good place to start. Southern Gospel
    DOES NOT spend in advertising anywhere close to what they should. They want the artist to become famous then the recording companies and booking agents will jump on board meaning, you spend the money first then we will jump on board when country does it the other way around.

  5. Leebob wrote:

    Apples and oranges…I agree about the pitiful state of financial stability in SG. That being said, next time you sing take a look at your crowd. I seriously doubt these are the same “schmos” going to Kenny Chesney. These are the “blue hairs”, “senior saints”, or whatever else you want to call them, but the great majority of them are on fixed or limited income. So you seriously want them to pay 15-20% of their monthly income for one concert? The groups with success are the ones who’s crowd is getting younger, not slowly dying off.

    That is only one aspect of our particular crowd. Another aspect is that most of our crowd has a different set of core values when it comes to their money than the majority of your Kenny Chesney crowd. Yes we have some cross-over but ultimately we are still talking two different crowds.

    Things have slowly changed for us. I am getting more pastors who expect me to have a fee when they talk with me (no, I didn’t see that coming). With fuel prices being what they are we are changing how we approach things. If a particular church didn’t do such a great job of showing the love (we only do this in the DFW area) we simply don’t go back. As we branch farther out we are beginning to set a minimum plus love offering based on the distance. Interestingly, the smaller churches tend to show the greater amout of love.

    Finally, with fuel being what it is, we will probably stay in the four state area (TX, ARK, LA, OK) with an occassional trip outside this region. I expect more and more groups will begin to choose this situation simply because of economics. We have to look at how we do things and what our situation is.

  6. RK wrote:

    I have to seriously question the financial savvy or wisdom of any group who stakes their viability on “love offering” dates in churches today. Ask almost any singer who’s been on the road for any length of time (or just browse the Southern Gospel message boards, for that matter) and you’ll hear/read countless stories of pitiful love offerings, churches who skim large amounts from the plate, pastors who purposely undersell the collections (”look at their fancy bus out there”…”why, I know they’d sing tonight for free”…”they’re not in it for money; they sing for Jesus!”…”remember our special offering next week, so don’t go overboard”…), etc.

    The “karaoke syndrome” that plagues sg stems from the top of the industry (top artists, labels, promoters, NQC, etc.), rather than the low-end, Sunday night, date-filler, love offering events.

    Somehow and at some point it became acceptable for top groups to go the Sony or Casio route rather than using live instrumentation. Part of it stems from economics (a well-worn topic I won’t belabor), part of it results from audiences becoming accustomed to hearing a sound more sophisticated than just a piano and a guitar, and part of it comes from an industry hierarchy that expects precious little from its top acts other omnipresence on the road and reverence for insiders.

  7. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    I’ve spent countless hours counseling young musicians who are trying to determine if they should enter the gospel music “ministry” as a recording/touring artist. I’ve given all of them the same advice. I believe that God pays for what He orders. If He calls you, He will sustain you. I remind them that people will “vote” for their ministry at the record table (and in the love offering plate). A wise man once said, “A ministry that changes lives needs no advertising – a ministry that doesn’t change lives isn’t worth advertising.” People will minister to you the way you minister to them. Give and it shall be given unto you. If they find value in what you are doing, they will want to help it continue. However, if they sense that the “ministry” is little more than an outlet for a starving ego, they will likely feed that beast what it craves most – applause and accolades – and little more….

  8. gc wrote:

    That is a great post!

  9. Keith wrote:

    Interestingly enough, I have found what Leebob says to be true: the smaller churches do much better in the love offerings, especially when it comes to the amount per person put in the offering. Many times it comes out to $7-$8 a person. We’re lucky to get $3 a head if a love offering is taken in large venues. Go figure.

  10. SB wrote:

    I agree with you (RF) that people will pay for the DirectTV, CATV, etc. but will pass the plate right by to the next person with a smile on their faces. In my opinion, it completely starts with the pastor or promoter of the event. If the group owner and pastor could come to a ‘monetary agreement’ before the concert, it would alleviate the stress level not getting enough to cover expenses.

    The world doesn’t show us CATV, DirectTV for free, then expect us to pay for it midway through the program. If the cable company representatives passed a plate through your living room, would you still pay if given the option? Probably not.

  11. TlB wrote:

    I have recently become the promoter at my church to book groups. When I contact the booking agent they already have a set fee and things they require and a contract for me to sign if I agree. How I choose to raise funds is up to me and the church. In our case we sell tickets.. I agree that most will spend money on a meal at least once a week. That will usually cover the cost of one ticket. So I don’t feel bad about charging folks to have quality music in our church for an evening. We make sure that the group is well taken care of as well while they are with us so that they want to come back to our church again. The fees the request are very reasonable and the other terms are as well. I don’t see how they do it for this amount of money. The church I represent had no problem with the fees at all. We are an extremely small chruch too less than 200 members. We could seat alittle over 400. We were packed. And we DID have church. These folks we had in reached folks that we often can’t because folks will come listen to good music sometimes long before they will a preacher. I think that’s they it needs to be looked at. They can help reach some, and then the church can pick up and help them to grow. If you don’t think they are worth being paid well,…. I think you just wrong.

  12. Luke wrote:

    Okay the reason, Country artists Like, Kenny, Reba, Rascal Flatts, etc. Or Pop artists like Hannah montana, Fergie, list goes on… the reason they can sale tickets for $40-$200 each is because they put on a show, they actually PERFORM they give a huge performance filled with (most of them) costume changes, at least 2-3 hours worth of music. U go to a SG concert at a church or concert venue and you see a nice backdrop and product table from some groups. maybe some artists try to be as classy and up to date as the ever so awesome Hoppers and actually look like musical artists instead of amateurs. My point is SG will never EVER EVER! even need to be compared to a secular concert, because lets face it, its totally different. THe most incredible concert in the SG music field, that was actually set up like a REAL CONCERT and had the top of the line everything was the 50th anniversary of the Hoppers DVD taping in Winston Salem, NC now that is how it should be done EVERYTIME. still not up to a secular ticket price but worth $25.

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