Park the bus?

Evidently, it’s the kind of thing artists would be talking about these days if they talked around a water cooler. According to a friend’s email yesterday:

I’ve heard from a number of groups who are trying this or thinking about [raising cd prices]. Experimenting. With Diesel @ $5.15, concert flats only level (if they indeed get paid at all), attendance down at most events, most artists are struggling to maintain and raising table prices is one option. I spoke with one artist from Tennessee that had a 4 day weekend in Oklahoma and Texas. ALL income from the 1st two days went for diesel fuel for the bus for the weekend. I don’t want to overdramatize the situation and I don’t really have a handle on the internal finances of many artists, but I’m hearing some fairly serious discussion about “parking the busses.”

Well, it’s a long way from $23 cds to parking the bus. But at least parking the bus makes sense as a response to rising fuel prices.

I mean, $23 for a Dove Brothers cd? Royght. Maybe we should start a contest: who can come up with the best alternative use of that $23 for a single sg music purchase?

Even if you are one of the people who wants DBQ product badly, you can still get it for a lot less at retail, a lot easier than waiting for DBQ to come to town and jack up the price of an album. And, as Brett notes, you can get other sg product - and I might add, other better sg - at big-box stores and online for far, far less.

So in effect, groups that hike the price of product at their table are effectively exploiting the devotion, gullibility, desperation or all three of their most loyal fans. Fine, whatever. There are a lot worse ways to waste your money. And more likely, average fans will just politely stay away from the overpriced product table and get their music somewhere else. But as a leading indicator of the response to economic crisis, it’s seems sort of counterproductive in the short and long term.

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  1. Eric Kaunitz wrote:

    Legacy Five is doing just the opposite. They are now offering the same bundle price on thier web site that they offer at the concerts. (Two CDs, One DVD, and One Book @ $40.00 — a $55.00 value) At one concert, Scott Fowler said that he knows that gas prices affects the concert goers and not just them. He believes that this will help keep the concert goers coming.
    Smart business?

  2. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    Best use of the $23 - Go to the Crossroads website, purchase the album mp3s there, then purchase another album and a half with the money left over. :)

    Or wait a few months (or more than a few :? ) until eMusic finally gets around to posting the album and spend the $23 on that album and a few other projects there.

  3. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #1: They are also working on getting digital downloads up and running on their site store.

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    I think Fowler has the right idea. Lower prices when people’s money is tighter. I learned in econ that it is better to sell 100 items for $5.00 profit than 25 at $7.50 profit. It is simple math. Now, I’m heading over to L5 and check things out.

  5. wackythinker wrote:

    Or we could support our local Christian bookstore, and start buying s/g music there. And if they don’t stock s/g, ask if they could order it, or begin stocking it.

    If they don’t know we’re interested, they probably won’t stock it. And if we don’t do business with them, and only buy our Christian products online or at the big box boys, our local Christian bookstore will soon be out of business.

    Just another wacky thought!

  6. Al Locke wrote:

    It is going to take some time to see how the income situation for FT SG artists shakes out. I feel for them because major decisions need to be made and it is very unclear what, if any, options are out there. Are we headed for regional groups only? Is there more fat that can be trimmed from the overhead of FT groups? Best I can tell it is a great way to starve anyway. Will we see L5 pull up to a concert in an F350 Ford Van?
    Our audiences, much as I love them, have NO idea what expenses are for FT, much less, PT SG groups. Otherwise, the above mentioned group would not be working to only fill up the bus. And would the same people (the audiences) pay for what it really cost?
    My take is CD prices have little to do with the elephant in the room!

  7. cdguy wrote:

    Al, I think you’re onto something. It may be time for some sifting, not only in s/g, but in all of Christian music.

    It appears to me there has been a GLUT of new artists in the past few years, and consumers don’t seem to care about them. They seem to be appreciated in live settings, and they may (or may not) get limited radio attention, but do nearly nothing (or less) at retail.

    And SO many of them seem to do only cover tunes — no original material. How many new renditions of “Shout To The Lord”, “He Touched Me”, and “The Lighthouse” do we need?

    Part of the problem at retail, though, may also be a lack of support for the local Christian bookstore by church-going consumers. It seems we’d rather support WalMart and Best Buys, than a place where we can get some real meat & potatoes kind of Christian product — where they to offer services (and a level of service) you won’t find at any big box store or website.

    I doubt this rant will drive the masses to run out to their local Christian bookstores to buy up all the product they have, but maybe it will make someone think about the great selection of Bibles, books, music, and gifts you find anywhere else.

    And maybe something others have posted here will make someone think before they STIFF the group who comes to your church for a love offering.

  8. Leebob wrote:

    The customer you don’t know about is the quiet one. In a restaurant, the quiet lady you gave poor food or service to, simply walks away without saying a word and just doesn’t return. Everything was “fine”. In the retail store, the customer who gets ignored never gripes or complains but simply walks out to never darken the doors again. In SG, the fan who feels they are getting exploited to make up for something they didn’t cause will quietly walk away from the table without anything in their hand. The service was “wonderful”.

    In our soon to be 10 years of ministry we have only been “stiffed” by a church one time and simply have not returned. We have gone through the times where we averaged $1.75/person on the love offering thing but that has dramatically changed the past three or four years. I know all about business since but we have gotten away from the basics and the reason we got into this: ministry. We focus on the money and have been distracted. “Seek first the kingdom of God…” I’d love to hear form you nay sayers that disagree.

  9. apathetic wrote:

    Why would we go to a local Christian Bookstore instead of Walmart or Best Buy? Gas at $4.00 a gallon, food prices up 7%, those of us who have an money left in our entertainments budget are wise to spend $12 for the CD at Walmart instead of $18 at the local Christian bookstore. Good stewardship.

  10. Bari-Tone-Def wrote:

    Perhaps good stewardship could be perceived as investing the extra $6 at a Christian owned, Christian operated and Christian based Bookstore instead of a chain store that doesn’t even offer their employees medical benefits.

  11. mp3guy wrote:

    Thank You! And then when you ask BigBox to “special order” that Dove Brothers or Greater Vision project from last year, they’ll just laugh at you and when you go looking for an independent Christian Bookstore - there will be none to be found. Then you can go on the DBQ website and pay $50 for 2 CDs - ok, $46

  12. rzrbkman wrote:

    # 10 Bari-Tone-Def How many of those Christian bookstores do you know of that offer medical benefits to their employees? or vacation pay? Holiday pay? Short-term disability? Stock options? If I depended on obtaining my yearly supply of SGM at local Christian book outlets I would just have to do without as the SGM product shelves at those stores are ever-shrinking. I’ll take my SGM as low in price as I can get it even if I have to buy it at Best Buy or Hastings. I’ll invest the remaining $6.00 in some other type of SGM product.

  13. CVH wrote:

    I think the exchange between #9 apathetic and #10 Bari-Tone-Def exemplifies the conflict a lot of Christians have in today’s economy. Do you take time to go to a Christian bookstore and spend your money there or do you simply pick up the latest SG CD at Target along with your toothpaste and new cushions for the patio furniture?

    It’s similar to the decisions we have to make when we shop local businesses, even if the prices are a bit higher and the selection a bit smaller…and then a Wal-Mart opens. Loyalty to the local businessman who may be your neighbor or saving money and time by shopping a national chain (and looking the other way when you pass the local store owner on the sidewalk)?

    As far as the Christian bookstore question goes, I decided a number of years ago that loyalty to the concept of Christian brick and mortar retail is no longer valid. Thirty years ago the only place you could buy a Christian album or Bible or religious book was a Christian bookstore. Today most Borders or Barnes & Nobles have much more selection. Christian music is available in many retail locations. I’ve lived in several parts of the country and with two notable exceptions the majority of Christian bookstores I’ve patronized have had 1)an increasingly limited selection of product, 2)higher prices and 3)a lack of customer service.

    The music selection is determined by their music buyer - God help you if it’s a 22-year old hip-hop fan or someone who still thinks Tom Netherton is that nice young man from the Lawrence Welk program. Whether they’re part of a national chain or a local mom ‘n pop, they can usually only order what their distributor carries. Special orders? You’d be better off trying to order a quiche at McDonald’s.

    Price? Of course they don’t have the volume to bring prices down so what are you going to do? Consider the difference a donation?

    Customer service varies widely. That’s true of course in any business. But I guess if I shop at a ‘Christian’ store, I expect a little more than a nervous smile and an, “ah…I don’t know. I can leave a note for our manager.”

    Christian bookstores are closing in record numbers. Attendance at their trade shows is down. They lack the resources, locally or nationally, to be more competitive. Add to that limited hours, locations often off the beaten path and a marketing mindset that is for the most part a decade behind the times and is it any wonder people shop for their Christian commodities elsewhere?

    To me that’s just it. We’re a consumer culture and Christians are the biggest consumers of all…from our faith itself to the products that represent it. As sad as it may be for some to contemplate, the future of the Christian bookstore is, with some exceptions, in serious doubt.

  14. mp3guy wrote:

    2 more cents worth. The CCM side is seeing that $17 and $18 CDs are not selling. Almost all new projects are coming out at $13.99 or less - unless it is Third day or some other HUGE artist or an enhanced CD or something wiith DVD elements.
    The new Crabb Revival CD “Runaway Train” from Daywind coming out in 2 weeks has a suggested retail of $13.98 as does Aaron and Amanda Crabbs “After the Rain” in stores this week. That is also the price of the new Ivan Parker “Best of” from Gaither. The new Legacy 5 is $16.98 and I believe that is about the same price as the most recent Crossroads releases - Kingsmen, Talleys, Doyle Lawson what have you.
    If you are not going the MP3 route, an independent Christian Bookstore or a chain like Family or Lifeway with a savvy manager is the way to go.

  15. brad wrote:

    Walmart where i live u might find GVB and EHSS but nothing else. you wont find a Dove Bros cd thats for sure. Everyone is trying to make more money so we cant act like SG quartets shouldnt. everything is going up

  16. cdguy wrote:

    My comment about stiffing the group that sings for a love offering had to do with the guy (or lady) in the pew, not the pastor.

    How many of us, when the plate is passed, give $1.00 or less?

  17. Matt Baker wrote:

    I realize $23 may seem a little steep compared to what we are used to paying, but time will tell whether their sales rise or fall because of it. I can’t blame them for trying to adjust to this fuel crisis. It’s just like everyone else- grocery stores, trucking companies, all rise their prices to still turn enough profit to stay in business. It’s just part of the recession- we can’t pass judgement on them- even though I doubt I will EVER pay $23 for a CD. But, as I said, time will tell, and after their sales go down, their prices will go back down. It’s common economics.

  18. Regina Brandts wrote:

    This past weekend I went to two concerts.
    One on Friday at Country Tonight in Gatlinburg, TN and the other was the Gaither homecoming in Gatlinburg. On Friday evening I purchased a pack of 6 CDs from Young Harmony for $50. On Saturday I purchase 2 CDs from the Gaither event for $50. I like getting more for my money, but I understand everything is getting more expensive. I don’t know what the real answer is, but we all need to keep supporting the musical message of Christ.

  19. LS wrote:

    I haven’t set foot in Wal-Mart in several years…I got tired of trying to get through all the cookie and candy booths and the teenagers loitering in front of the store. Many of my CDs are purchased directly from the artists at concerts, but I order most of them from Paul & Sheila Heil’s mail order business. (If I may give them a plug, They send a weekly newsletter with the new releases; they always discount them the first week, but even their regular prices are fairly low. That seems to solve all my problems–availability, price and Christian vs secular!

  20. Bari-Tone-Def wrote:

    #12 When I hit the post button, I knew someone would inevitably say exactly what you did.

    “How many of those Christian bookstores do you know of that offer medical benefits to their employees? or vacation pay? Holiday pay? Short-term disability? Stock options?”

    I know what you are saying and I agree, but I think you got my point none-the-less.

    And would someone puhhleeeze point me in the direction of one of these super stores that have such a grand selection of SGM! There are definitely not found where I live, or in the surrounding areas, or anywhere I have ever visited, …..

  21. Jim2 wrote:

    Send me an e-mail and I’ll find one in your area.

  22. LW wrote:

    I agree with #16. It makes me mad that when a group has traveled in a bus that eats fuel like a child will eat candy that the Christians in the venue act like becasue they are singing “Christian” music that should do it for free. I mean this is how these folks earn a living. They have families to feed and the same needs we all have. There are some who truly minister and live what they sing about. They deserve to earn a good living like anyone else does. It’s hard work. But I think alot of people think that Christian artist are living a Hollywood lif style and they don’t want to contribute to that. It’s truly a sad thing. Come and entertain me for free
    because you are singing about Jesus. It’s just a wrong attitude. Go to work, and do it for free. How long would you and your family survive? The artists who truly minister deserve to be paid a good wage. I’m just tired of cheap church people. God isn’t stingy with us and we would have anything if it weren’t for him in the first place.

  23. LW wrote:

    Sorry for the typos!

  24. matt wrote:

    regarding #1,
    Scott Fowler is absolutely doing the right thing. I will keep coming up to the record table, and maybe even buy more.
    SG Quartets aren’t the only ones havng gas pains.

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