Piracy and piety

Whenever the issue of piracy and gospel music comes up, it’s only a matter of time before you hear some version of this story (via southerngospelblog):

I’m small-time compared to some of you folks. Still, it’s all I can do to hold my tongue when someone stands at our product table and says to his buddy, “You buy that one and I’ll buy this one, and I’ll burn you a copy of mine.” I know it goes on but I don’t want to hear the transaction being made right in front of me!

This is a common and understandable frustration among professional musicians (the most reliable way to get rapturous, thunderous, architecturally-destructive applause at an awards show is to give a shout out to anti-piracy initiatives and ask everyone to respect artistic rights etc). But in the context of southern gospel, I wonder if the piratical tendency isn’t at least partly an unintended byproduct of the ministry-mindedness so prevalent in the industry.

Here’s what I mean: In most other genres (Christian and secular), the purchase of concerts tickets and other music product is treated as a necessary means to a more important end for the consumer. But southern gospel frames consuming the music as a ministerial experience and this bidness transaction as support of a ministry and minister.

There are all sorts of things one could say about this. But I’m particularly interested in the moral or ethical effects of ministry-minded rhetoric, particularly this rhetoric’s tendency to weaken the link between business transactions and the values of the marketplace. Telling people that southern gospel is a ministry, not a business, is an effective way to cultivate die-hard fans who equate purchasing your product and concert tickets with advancing the kingdom. Taken to its logical conclusion, however, this approach could easily have the effect of decapitalizing the artist’s creation to the extent that a whole new ethical or moral framework comes into play.

Instead of reinforcing the idea of music as a saleable product – to which attaches notions of intellectual property, artistic copyright, and legal protections afforded original creations in capitalist economies – ministry-minded rhetoric encourages fans of music ministries to think about the music, not as a commodity, but as a powerfully concentrated statement of faith, an easily transmittable catalyst for religious experience, and a conveniently packaged tool for evangelism.

Should it surprise us, then, when fans see the duplication of copyrighted gospel music as an act of evangelism? Here’s how one commenter put it in response to Gerald Wolfe’s piracy post:

What if I copied your latest CD to my computer and make 100 copies. Then I take those 100 copies out with me to witness to the lost. I give away these 100 copies and out of this 20 or 5 or even 1 soul comes to know Christ as his savior, aren’t you happy??? Besides, this scenario doesn’t take a dime from your pocket because none of these 100 people would have bought your CD otherwise.

In this commenter’s mind, “burning a copy” isn’t a violation of the law but a fulfillment of the scriptural exhortations to lift up one another in the Lord, and, as the title of one recently popular song puts it, “preach the word.”

I’m sure someone will write in to say that thou shalt not steal (this is more or less what Wolfe said in reply to the commenter), and thus piracy is clearly wrong both from a capitalist and Christian perspective. Except this begs the question by assuming the status of the act itself is ethically or morally stable. But of course it’s not, whether viewed capitalistically or religiously: one person’s music piracy is another person’s file sharing. And one person’s file sharing is many a Christian’s spreading of the gospel. (Sometimes, I guess we DO have to make this a hermeneutics seminar … sorry CVH).

My point is not to defend or condone piracy. I probably tend to interpret the “personal use” rights that come with buying music more liberally than most artists or industry types might. And I think blaming the decline of the music industry on piracy is mostly counterfactual victimology. But piracy is obviously a problem, even if the origin of and solution to that problem are less obvious.

Rather, my point is that southern gospel artists have a personal and professional interest in insisting that their work is a ministry whose aims transcend worldly acquisitiveness – except when they don’t. So in addition to vigorously defending their rights as artists in the religious marketplace, southern gospel performers might want to examine how their (ab)use of ministry-minded rhetoric may be inadvertently contributing to the piracy problem they bemoan.

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  1. Charles Brady wrote:

    I’m still wondering when God is going to start getting all those BMI/ASCAP & SESAC checks He is entitled to.

  2. Alan wrote:

    Since no one seems anxious to jump in here, Doug, I will. As an initial disclaimer, I’ll guess that there will be as many opinions on this thread as there are artists and consumers. Also, there will likely be a disparity between commenters re: the age-old debate of ministry vs. business. Ideally, one would hope that ministries would be run on sound business principles, and that sound businesses would be effective ministries. But, the ratio is bound to change. It makes sense for part-time groups to claim that their interests will be, for instance, 75% ministry and 25% business-oriented, as their expenses are sure to be less, and because they have secular jobs to pay the bills. For those whose livelihood depends on either flats or honorariums and product sales, the ratio may be quite different.

    Years ago, I had an album that did very well, and a single from it that made it as high as it could go. The record company called me one day to tell me that an elderly gentleman had enjoyed the song so much, that he’d made 156 cassette copies from his album, one for each family in his church. (His letter actually had the tone that he expected one of us to write to him and thank him!) The record company wanted to take him to small claims court to recoup the loss of what 156 album sales would have netted. After I read his letter, I told them that if they did, I was leaving. He was obviously oblivious to any and all laws, had done what he’d done from a good heart, and - like the poster replied to Gerald - likely, most of those 156 recipients wouldn’t have bought the album anyway. Was I wrong to show grace in that situation?

    Fast forward to the early Napster days. A friend called me one night, and asked if I knew that someone had downloaded my latest CD to Napster, and that at that point, nearly 200 people had downloaded the entire project for free. I was unaware of it, but by the time that Napster was shut down as freeware, I lost a lot of potential proceeds.

    We choose to live off of honorariums, and save product sales for the next project as much as we can. So, very directly, any “pirating” hurts us, and could even delay the next project. All of the above can only be magnified many times by artists who far outsell me. My last indie project cost $50K to bring to market; small compared with large artists, but I had to pay every penny of it. As much as we try to be ministry-oriented, these illegal losses add up, and impact our ability to be as effective as we might be in the business side of what we do. Finally, I have to add this: I’m continually astounded at how few people know the laws covering these situations. I’d even go so far as to say that a majority of people over 50 think that when they buy that new CD, what they do with it from there is their business. To me, it seems as if something needs to be written on our CD jackets in plain and unambiguous language, so that even a small percentage of buyers might think before they make copies. I’ll be very interested in any further comments on this topic.

  3. nonsgfan wrote:

    I honestly believe that most artists who get all up in the air about this, probably DIDNT GIVE A CARE untill it began to affect their OWN pocketbooks.

    I highly doubt any of these artist ever said a word about it untill it became a problem for THEM.

    Its ALL God’s music anyway.

  4. Robert wrote:

    I guess I would be more concerned if we made our living from singing. I’ve actually told people who’ve said, “I’ll buy this one, you buy that one and we’ll burn copies for each other”, to go ahead and do it. This does not happen often and we sell more product than we ever thought we would in the first place. After you pay for the recording and the duplication it is all profit anyway. To a certain extent I am not a “piracy cop” because I would say we sell more product than other groups who do the same amount of concerts as we do a year. I also look at it this way. Our product is not in Walmart. The only way some people will ever hear us is to get a burned copy of one of our CDs from a friend.
    Aside from this, I do agree with Alan’s statement, “something needs to be written on our CD jackets in plain and unambiguous language, so that even a small percentage of buyers might think before they make copies.”

  5. LW wrote:

    I look SG as both ministry and business. After all don’t these folks who travel all over to sing have to make a living too? Often “Christians” don’t think of it that way. Some are not very informed that some groups just don’t make all that much money when it’s all said and done. So I think we should support them by, buying their CD and etc…. I don’t think we should “burn” copies for friends and family. To me it’s like taking money away from these groups.

  6. SGfan wrote:


    I can see your point as far as your group is concerned, however were all the songs on your project original (written by you)? If not, all you did in encouraging the duplication is encourage theft from the song writers. Just a thought.


    I definitely see the points you are making. Napster caused a lot of problems. As for the older gentleman who made 156 copies, I don’t think I would have pursued anything legally either but would have informed him of copyright laws in a non-offensive way so he did not make the mistake again. I understand his sincerity, but would not want that to get him in trouble for doing something he thought was a good thing and turns out it is very illegal. Again, piracy does not only hurt the artists, but it also hurts the songwriters. If publishing companies get a hold of the information on him, they might not be so forgiving.

    As far as something written on the CD jacket, I am looking at one right now that says “Unauthorized duplication is violation of applicable law”. I think that says it pretty plainly, but maybe we should just print, “Don’t make copies or you might get sued!”

  7. CVH wrote:

    OK, hermeneutics it is.

    Southern gospel and CCM blur the lines more than other forms of religious music when it comes to distinguishing between the dual mindsets of ministry and business.

    The problem is many of us want it both ways. We expect that our copyrighted works will not be pirated and that we should receive every penny in royalties. Just look at the gathering storm around the issue of performance royalties in radio.

    On the other hand, how often have many of us burned a quick copy of a CD or a few tunes when we didn’t want to drop 15 bucks for a full record that only had one or two songs we cared about.

    Until groups reexamine the ways they connect with audiences, which really goes to the whole underlying culture, and until consumers learn to maintain a polite distance from groups and view them more as commercial entities, the problem will continue.

  8. Oldtimer wrote:

    The commentator who used the analogy of copying the CD so that it could be used as a tool to minister to lost friends is absolutely ridiculous. By this logic I could go into any Christian bookstore and load up on all the music - why stop there - and books and bibles I could stuff under my overcoat and parade out of the store without paying a dime and as long as I gave them to lost friends not only should I not be arrested - I should be congratulated. I hope everyone can see the convluted logic here ( that’s about as nice a description as I could muster.)

    Here is the truth - If you make a copy and distribute it without permission you are not pirating - you are stealing. You may not like it but you are a thief. And while God may use the music you stole, it is in spite of your rationalized sin and not because of it. Pay for what you get - not to do so is theft. It is hard enough to make it in Southern Gospel Music without ignorant self righteous theives standing at your product table and robbing you blind before your very eyes. The person who justfies this has far more nerve than morals.


  9. Pedantic wrote:

    Seems to me that every CD already comes with a copyright that very clearly states “All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws” or “FBI Antipiracy Warning: Unauthorized copying is punishable under Federal Law” to cite examples of the first 2 CDs I picked up off of my desk.
    To restate what Doug said in another post - Some people understand “intellectual property” and others don’t - it’s that simple.

  10. cdguy wrote:

    Alan — An appropriate response to your label may have been, “send them a polite letter of explanation, and a statement, but don’t threaten anything.”

    A good rule of thumb would be: If the material you’re copying (audio, video, text, electronic, ANYTHING) contains ANY copyrighted material, ASK THE COPYRIGHT OWNER(S) BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING! In writing. Whether it’s Christian material or otherwise, they own the exclusive right (hence the term “copyright”) to grant or deny permission. And they may give (or sell) you permission. But ask first.

    Hope that helps somebody.

  11. Bones wrote:

    How many people care about Gearld Wolfe? If you listen`to the radio you get all you care to hear.

  12. Bob wrote:

    I meet with a group of other Christians at work for lunch, and we have been listening to sermons by Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church. They have an on-line store where you can purchase MP3 downloads of actual sermons on various topics. We listen as a group to MP3’s that one of the attendees purchased.

    We have also, at my church, had a variety of other packaged sermon series, such as the ‘Men’s Fraternity’ program by Robert Lewis that we are going through with our Men’s group right now.

    I think the rate of piracy/copying of items that are *solely* ministry related is much lower than that of ministry related music. Why? Maybe it is because people were used to sharing ‘mix tapes’ of albums they owned, and are used to listening to music on the radio for free.

  13. FJW wrote:

    Let me take this thread in a little different direction. I have a collection of approximatley 400 bonified and personally paid for CD’s. I have been approached by a local radio station to do a 30 minute a week SGM program for a token set-fee per program, using my personal CD’s. In fact, I would record the program here in my basement studio and merely take them a program CD weekly.
    The radio station assumes that their BMI/ASCAP licenses will cover any copyrighted material. How would you view this arrangement? Southern Gospel is virtually unknown in a 100 mile circle surrounding my town. As a wannabe future SGM promoter, I am interested in promoting SGM in this market to assist in attracting enough adherents to justify holding concerts here. Yet, I have no desire to break the law or to cheat.

  14. jake wrote:

    I realize any law can be taken to an extreme “letter of the law,” but nevertheless the law is the law. Copyrighting is a legally binding law, and Christians have both a legal and a biblical responsibility to obey them.

  15. Snarfie wrote:

    Here’s my spin on the piracy thing. SG artists are quick to use the technology available to correct (enhance) their projects, so why not just use the technology that prevents the CD from being copied in the first place. If you want to carry it one further, make the technology available that would destroy the files on the original copy if piracy was attempted.

  16. Alan wrote:

    Really neat responses, folks. A couple of you - SGFan and Pedantic - mentioned the legalese already found on CD jackets. Mine feature the same language. What has surprised me on more than a few occasions is how people interpret that. I’ve had a good few tell me that they thought that only referred to people who would make many copies using the CD as a master, duplicating the jacket for second generation copies, and selling quantities of pirated CD’s! Honest truth. That it actually includes them burning a few copies for friends sort of stuns them… That’s why, in addition to the accepted legal statement, I wonder if it might not be a good idea to add - in layman’s terms - what that actually means! Any suggestions for suitable language will be really appreciated. CDGuy - you were on target with what you suggested. Also, the record company actually sent a letter to that dear old man that was almost verbatim to what you wrote. They allowed me to dictate the nice parts, :-) and then added the kind, but reasonably firm, admonition about the potential ramifications of what he’d done. In my mind, it was a win-win.

  17. Jeff wrote:

    #14 jake you make no sense, so is abortion is legal in the US but does it mean Christians should sit by and allow it.

  18. quartet-man wrote:

    I disagree with Snarfie’s suggestion because it also keeps those of us honest from using the music in legal ways (burning a compilation CD for ourselves, a backup copy, mp3’s, wavs on the computer etc. There are enough ways to punish us for the actions of those who do wrong without making it worse.

  19. AnnD wrote:

    Yeah, Alan, I was just thinkin’ that it was refreshing to read something of substance…a REAL discussion and debate.

  20. DJPhil wrote:

    FJW #13–To answer your question, if it will be at a non-commercial station the license fees are a set amount each year, so you would be covered there. For a commercial station they would need your playlist and they would still cover the fees. Go for it!
    As for making CD copies, I think since people have bought the CD(and they now own the CD) that they think they can burn the copies and give them away as long as they don’t make any money on it.
    And I’m guessing they don’t compare it to taking Bibles because they own the CD and aren’t taking anything tangible. Most folks, I don’t believe, really understand the royalties and costs behind the making of a CD and what they are doing when they burn extra copies. Like someone else said, I think maybe an exterior label and maybe an insert should be added that you have to see before you can take the CD out of the case, written in plain language letting people know that what they can do and can’t do legally needs to be done to educate the buyers.

  21. Jamie wrote:

    Copying cd’s is illegal. So prosecute.

    But, I want to say this. SG artist are you in the ministry or are you running a business? I am a pastor, and I am sick and tired of the Christian businessman that wants to come to my church disguised as a “music ministry”. If you are in the ministry quit whining about your music being stolen, and praise the Lord that it is being used to point people to Him. From what I am hearing, those who are whining about piracy, aren’t hurting too bad financially. Compare yourselves to other “ministers” of the gospel, and you will see that you bring in more money than they do. I would like to remind you that ministry will cost you something. If it doesn’t, then I don’t think that you can call it ministry. So, try to market yourself as a “Christian Music Business”, and see how many concerts you get.

  22. Alan wrote:

    Been thinking possible additional language over. What do all of you pros here think of this:

    “Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable law. The original purchaser of this CD is entitled to make one copy as a backup, and to download electronically to computer or mp3 device for their own listening pleasure. Any further duplication and/or sharing of any portion of this recording - by whatever means - without the express written permission of the artist(s), songwriter(s) and publisher(s), is against the law.”

    Wordy, yeah. So help me synthesize it! It covers the points that I think most of us agree need to be addressed, but any better way(s) to express it and be legal, will be extremely appreciated.

  23. Inigo Montoya wrote:

    I’ve got a suggestion for you. In next weeks bulletin, print an announcement that you are making plenty of money and that your church members should send their tithe money for the next 3 months to Charles Stanley, World Vision, John MacArthur or Joel Osteen. Then come back and post your experience. After all, you probably only REALLY work an hour or two a week, and it’s all for the love of Jesus anyway, right?

  24. MS wrote:

    #21, Jamie- It’s people like you and that ignorant mentality that have hurt genuine ministries and have put ministers of the gospel out of business. I am a minister of the gospel with a legitimate ministry. But if I don’t operate my ministry with Biblical business principles and Godly wisdom, I won’t have a ministry very long.

    The gospel is free to “whosoever will”. But it still costs somebody money to produce it in the form of cd, a book, even a bible. It costs somebody money, and often time away from family to go take that gospel “freely” throughout this country and to other nations.

    So if I compare myself to some other “ministers” such as yourself…I have the dignity of knowing I am fulfilling the call of God on my life and not “disguised” as a pastor.

  25. Alan wrote:

    Gosh, Jamie…by the same reasoning, then by all means, repave your parking lot and stiff the contractors when they’re done. Go into your local Christian bookstore, grab as many pulpit Bibles as you need, and tell the sales person on your way out the door that as it’s God’s Word, it’s all free. Then go back and load as many hymnbooks as you can as well. And by all means, adopt Inigo’s fine suggestion from post #23. Or, better yet, reread what you wrote - please - and think about how ludicrous your argument is.

    Do some singers bring in more than you do personally? Obviously, I don’t know, but perhaps on a gross basis, they might. Yet, I’d bet that your church has an operating budget for mortgage, taxes, insurance, electricity, programs, maintenance, repairs, etc., none of which is removed from whatever you receive. However, the artist(s) that come your way have no entity behind them to buy the coach, pay for diesel fuel, salaries, on and on I could go. Likely you have some kind of health insurance, your phone bills are paid by the church, possibly a car payment. Your “argument” is specious. I would hope that the church behind you runs on blameless business principles, all of which allows you to concentrate on studying, speaking, visitation, and all of the things that you do of a spiritual nature. An artist or group owner has many more things to handle than you might, and to balance things between the business and ministry sides - both of which have to be in order, if anything will have eternal significance - needs your support, not condemnation.

    Lastly, I do disagree with Inigo’s last paragraph, which I hope was written tongue-in-cheek. I know personally how hard preachers work, and the hours men like you put in. I’ve often said that perhaps the least important hours of your week are the ones up in front of the audience. So, I honor you and your work, and wish you God’s blessings in it.

  26. BaritoneBob wrote:


    “From What I Am Hearing…”, one of the all-time favorite sources of self-verification used by those in society who want to use hyperbole in their statements instead of actual facts. “Or, so I have heard,” at the end of a statement is another type. People who use those type of declarations without at least telling the listener/reader where the information came from are the same type of people who keep circulating those petions around for church members to sign to keep Ms. O’ Haire from taking Christian broadcasts off the airwaves and to keep Christians from buying Proctor and Gamble products. They don’t need facts, they just need hyperbole.

  27. quartet-man wrote:

    Jamie, I guess I am going to pile on too, at least to give you some additional food for thought so that you might reconsider your opinion. By the way, I have never derived money from making a cd. I am a music director and consumer.

    Imagine you are losing members to a competing church. People like the other pastor for some reason be it delivery or personality etc. You spend hours in prayer and study to write your sermon every week. The pastor from the competing church comes to your church every Friday and photocopies your sermon to preach at his church. You lose more and more members who go to hear him deliver your sermon. Your membership and giving is down 90%. The church is about to close and your check is reduced by 90% and in danger of losing the parsonage. You confront the pastor. He says it is God’s word which should be at no charge and tells you that you must just be after the money. Can’t you see how ludicrous that sounds?

    I realize the sermon is a small part of your week and work. However, it is the one thing I can think of that someone could take that was intellectual and reproducible.

  28. Wade wrote:

    Y’all are wasting your breath…ppl like Jamie will never get it. You heads will be bloodied with flat spots, you will be knocked out and she will still be saying…

    “If you are in the ministry quit whining about your music being stolen”…

    “From what I am hearing, those who are whining about piracy, aren’t hurting too bad financially.”


    “I would like to remind you that ministry will cost you something. If it doesn’t, then I don’t think that you can call it ministry.”

    All quotes of a Genius!


    Just be glad she has ID’ed herself and left no doubt.

  29. cdguy wrote:

    #21 - Jamie — here’s one more. Do you manage whatever church business you do for free? Why not? It’s ministry!

    So, you’re a Christian businessman, too, huh? Does your congregation pay you for that part of your ministry? HMMM!

  30. Alan wrote:

    I wonder, Wade…(and I’ll assume that Jamie is a man.) I think, or hope, that it’s more a case of just not thinking it through. And btw, I had never thought of this like Quartet-Man has, but the analogy fits. Even if Q-Man exaggerated it a bit, that helps to understand the phenomenon. We aren’t piling on, Jamie, just trying to let you see the other side.

    I’d still like any feedback from my post #22 and the potential wording I gave, if you think it’s important, that is.

  31. RK wrote:

    I think it may have less to do with the “ministry-mindedness” of the industry than it does with a culture created by generations of large-scale product unavailability.

    In large portions of the country for many years–including many areas with a strong southern gospel following–you simply could not find southern gospel music outside of a church building or concert hall (or the product table therein). Secular retailers didn’t sell it. Christian retailers had very limited, sporadic quality of product. Christian radio either didn’t exist or existed in a very low-grade, amateurish format (still a problem to this day). And the internet didn’t exist for either product ordering via mail or digital downloading.

    Often the availability to purchase product was limited to the extent of the groups who appeared in a given region and willingness of the listener/fan to travel and attend that concert and therefore be able to peruse the product table.

    With these conditions, how do you share your favorite music with a friend? You take home a cassette of your favorite group, listen to it, decide your church’s song leader would love it, and you have a choice…you either wait–possibly for years–for another chance to buy an additional copy, or you tape it off and give it away.

    For many people especially in the 80’s and early 90’s, the easiest way to enjoy the latest quality music was largely confined to a copy of the cassettes Sister Mildred bought at the Brumley Sing last year, VCR recordings from the PTL Club or the Gospel Jubilee, or even tape recordings the Sunday afternoon gospel hour on the local country-western station.

    Good Christian people were conditioned to do this because it was the easiest way to enjoy the music and also because there had yet to be any outcry from the artist or law enforcement communities, since the Napster/sharing era had yet to begin.

    People continue these practices to this day because they’ve done it for years. Despite the fact that Gaither has pioneered the mail-order business with his TV specials, retail product distribution has improved somewhat, the internet has enabled artist-direct or third-party ordering as well as $0.99 mp3 downloads, and decent-quality satellite radio is available coast-to-coast, old habits are hard to break.

    However, I do believe that a stronger education effort by the industry (most especially the artists), its publications, and the churches (at least those that pay CCLI license fees for the lyrics they publish in bulletins and on projection screens) would help out quite a bit.

  32. quartet-man wrote:

    #30 Alan, thanks. I had never thought of it that particular way until I posted either. I try to use analogies that fit the world and situation of the person I am talking to so that they can better understand things where the rubber meets the road in their lives. Of course one couldn’t copy the pastor’s visitation, service etc unless perhaps they somehow tricked the receivers into thinking it was something they had done. :)

    I am sure I exaggerated on the 90% as I doubt that 90% of the artists income is from CD sales total, let alone the ones copied. I also don’t know how many hours of prayer and study Jamie spends for his sermon as it differs with each pastor and each week I imagine. However, I chose to take it to the extreme to make it more obvious the damage that can be done and how wrong it is. :)

  33. Wade wrote:

    Alan # 30… No Jamie is a Woman and a pretty hot one too for some one who has 5 kids… Bless her Lord… her name according to her link is Kelley Murphy from South Augusta, SC.

    I am sure she means well… just a little misdirected!!! Bless her heart!!!

  34. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Here we go again!
    The born again Christian using the Christian rationale to justified the end result.
    I could but I will not commit a robbery at a business in another state so I can have more money to put in the love offering next Sunday night at church for the visiting artists so they can reach more souls for Christ.

  35. Joel wrote:

    This is an interesting thread. Everybody is up in the air about someone “stealing” by copying an artist’s CD. All the while, most artists and so-called labels are not paying the songwriter royalties due from the CD’s they did sell at full price. Sounds like a reaping and sowing issue to me!

  36. Jamie wrote:


    Jamie is a man who is married to the hot wife. And yes those are my 5 kids.

  37. Wade wrote:

    Jamie… my bad… just saw the face when I clicked through the site… You got a good looking family and of course the HOT WIFE!!! lol God Bless Ya… Least we know you read the thread… Hope we were able to help you understand why ppl have to have money to operate a ministry!!!

  38. Tom wrote:

    Not sure how on topic this is, but I would love to see some live material added to artist’s websites….say ” Group X” was performing at a venue or Church, and You had to work that evening or just couldn’t make it to the event. The group records the show and offers the songs for download. Maybe I’m biased as I enjoy live music warts and all, and I’m not sure the cost to the group. I write this as
    I enjoy the Hoppers and they performed nearby and I had to work that night. I would have loved to download my favorites from that performance to my computer to listen to. I’m not in the biz…so I don’t know if this is a practical idea or not or even viable for groups with contracts and all.

  39. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    While not defending all of Jamie’s points, some of us have assumed that minister’s are actually getting health insurance and other benefits. There are many cheap churches out there who ask Jamie to live by the same economic standards that he has mentioned in this discussion.

    I encourage all of you to know about your church’s finances and not allow your pastor to do without.

  40. wackythinker wrote:

    Tom #38 — No, that’s not really feasible, but many of the top-tier groups (including the one you mentioned) have recorded some of their performances, and offer them both on CD, and on something called a “DVD”. A few still offer them in VSH format, as well, but you’ll probably have difficulty locating recent recordings on cassette, vinyl, or 8-track.

    Those CD’s and DVD’s can be played on your computer, and even downloaded into some new think called “MP- 3 players”.

    You may wish to look into it.

  41. wackythinker wrote:

    Sorry, Tom, I just couldn’t resist.

  42. Tom wrote:

    I’ve been ripping DVDs to my Mac and formatting to my bleeding edge IPOD since you was in 1st grade!
    LOL…..Just thinking, that immediate music maybe from live performance where each song would be slightly unique say for a buck a song and being a download, you wouldn’t have to wait for the physical media to arrive. Just good live stuff or demos that wouldn’t take away from regular physical media releases

  43. dmp wrote:

    How does YouTube get away with offering full songs? I’ve never really understood that…

  44. quartet-man wrote:

    #43 Some of the TV networks put things there, but mostly I think it is just if someone is either unaware things are on there, don’t keep monitoring therm, or look the other way.

  45. Irishlad wrote:

    Hey Wade,just been listening(legally)to Kelly Murphy Jamie’s missus,sounds a bit like Charlene of ‘Hey lady’ fame.

  46. Lisa wrote:

    I read the posting, and I’ve read the comments, and I think it’s worth noting that it’s an odd hybrid here. Music/Ministry/Business. It’s all three at once.

    We (sometimes foolish) Christians tend to treat the performers as ministers, and the performances as ministry (and excoriate them when they prove human)…and think we’re doing a service to burn a disc. We’re not.

    Like it or not, the Sacred Music Industry (REGARDLESS of genre) is an INDUSTRY, and the individual performers are in a BUSINESS…and are considered self-employed. To call it anything other than that is to do THEM a disservice.
    Remember this.

  47. Irishlad wrote:

    Lisa,you got that in one. The old quartets of the 40’s and 50’s were the prime example of the real entertaining “Christian” road warrior, 99% entertainment (that’s what the punters were paying for) 1% preaching they were getting that for free the next morning. Frank Stamps is a good example of the out and out business man who smoked and eat himself to death and most likely the other too! This was the type of guy who showed JD and his ilk the way forward. As the bold Calvin N once said about the ladies “one minute you were singing into their hearts the next you were getting into their pants”. A very novel form of ministering. Lurid but true,and,no different today just more hypocrisy about it.

  48. Lisa wrote:

    I think what I am trying to say is:

    I’m not trying to bash anyone… Sometimes the folks who excoriate those who fall need their own halos to slip.

    The music business is a BUSINESS, and I’d agree with the poster earlier (#22) that the language is clear. Unauthorized duplication IS a violation of applicable law, and just because it’s Christian music does not make it any less so.

    #22–I guess what they need to do is make it less wordy: If you copy this, you’re stealing it. Quit it. Buy another copy and give one away. It’s worth the investment.

  49. elvis wrote:

    Didn’t Timothy say that ” a worker is worthy his wages?” Regardless of how you treat it or how you want to frame your argument, Southern Gospel is a business.
    The difference is that it happens to be a business that ministers to people and lifts them up. I would no more steal from a Southern Gospel group than I would steal from a local Church or Christian book store. When you take something that you haven’t paid for, then you are guilty of theft. Don’t come to me with the arguement that someone may be uplifted as a result of the theft, why not just say, “Well, I am stealing for the Lord.” I do not believe the Lord condones stealing, just like I do not believe he would tell someone to blow up an abortion clinic. Southern Gospel artists have payrolls to meet, fuel to buy, insurance to pay, plus feeding a family. Don’t begrudge them that.


  50. wackythinker wrote:

    Tom — since I was in first grade? That would have been, not only before mp3 or dvd, but before 99.9% of America knew what video tape was. I remember seeing it demonstrated and explained on an episode of “I’ve Got A Secret”.

    I’m old enough to remeber that, but too old to remember where I parked my car this morning.

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