Feb 252016
 

Piano-+-CrossThe Linkathon! article on worship created some interesting thoughts…especially this from a very gifted friend.

So, I look up a person that I want to hear our project.

The person is at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I look at his bio on the website. He’s born in 1973. He attended Calvary Chapel’s elementary school. No high school is mentioned, but for he goes on to Calvary Chapel’s Twin Peaks Bible College. He takes up his first job at another Calvary Chapel in California, before ultimately taking his current job at – yes, you guessed it – Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

So, I try to engage the interest of a Roman Catholic. I look at his bio. He’s about my age. He attended an RC parochial elementary school, a Catholic college and then went on to graduate work at a Roman Catholic seminary. His subsequent career is near the place of his birth and education apart from a brief stint in Rome, back to his hometown and then finally raised to the episcopate.

We then consider trying to get more effective distribution, perhaps through a Christian label, only to find that essentially all Christian labels are now under Capitol Christian Music Group (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group). The two lead executives for CMG are Bill Hearn (son of founder Billy Ray Hearn) and Chris York (son of former president, Peter York). I guess it’s all about keeping it in the family, sort of an evangelical tradition.

We turned to radio only to find that 96% of Christian radio is owned by one of two entities – the politically right wing for-profit Salem Media (which also owns and operates CCM magazine) and Air-1 a not-for-profit radio ministry. Both choose music on a national basis from an approved list of about 100 label signed artists. Essentially, two program directors are responsible for what is heard in 96% of the national US market.

Finally, we look a Christian music festivals to do second stage performances. We find that 90% of the events are run by the same promotion company and headlining the same 10 bands/artists all from the same label.

What do all of the above have in common?

They are closed systems.

If you are not fully immersed (or approved by background, education, etc.) in the closed system, then you are on the outside, with no entry possible.

The mega church has it’s own praise band, so no other music is needed.

Roman Catholics think “special music” in a service is someone singing ‘Ave Maria’ at a wedding or a funeral.

The label(s) wants everything to sound the same, as do the two radio conglomerates.

All this not only stifles creativity, it stunts growth – both in terms of people and organizations.

So, what do you do?

Sing covers of James Taylor songs at a bar until your soul is destroyed?

Just random thoughts… Would love to have some answers…”

  117 Responses to “Christian Music and Closed Systems”

  1. I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast

  2. I listen to some artists (not particularly Christian music) who appear to have started on UT Tube and FB and through word of mouth and internet have grown well.

  3. Make art for art’s sake.
    Serve in your local church – Key emphasis on SERVE. Don’t worry about climbing the Christian music ladder. It’s soul killing.
    Get a day job if you need to pay the bills, but don’t sacrifice the art for a dollar. Once you whore out your precious gift, you’ll never get it back.

  4. Josh,

    The problem is that many of us only hear the drivel…I would rather listen to cats mating than Christian radio.

    There are real artists out there doing interesting and provocative work that the general public never gets to hear.

  5. Absolutely. There are some great artists that will never get one spin on Christian radio. The great thing about the internet is that those people don’t have to sell-out. we can get their art online and skip the machine.

  6. I think the writer is a bit elitist. His ending comment about what to do – “Sing covers of James Taylor songs at a bar until your soul is destroyed?”

    I think sweet baby James has more ‘spirit’ in his songs than most ‘church’ singers.

  7. This is so sad. I’m all for musicians making a living doing what they do best, but the tribalism and corporate structures are disgusting.

    I suppose one can go “indie,” but that’s a tough road to travel. I know Don Francisco (of “He’s Alive” fame) became weary with how the “christian music” industry was looking so much like the dog-eat-dog industry of the world, so he created his own label. Unfortunately, he’s old now, and getting old in the music industry is a sin of major proportions.

    And while I’m ranting, when did “Worship” become a style and sub-industry within the whole of CCM??!! I remember back when I led worship regularly (before I was “old”), I often created song sets not only thematically, but with contrasting styles. Now, all the worship songs follow a similar pattern: Verse 1; Repeat verse 1; Chorus; Verse 2; Chorus twice; bridge; Chorus beginning with a breakdown (most instruments out), with drummer leading all the instruments back in mid-way through; Chorus again and maybe again and again and again and again. It’s getting really…umm…OLD!!!

  8. Ah , MLD, I forgot to answer the James Taylor reference.

    When I quite the Christian Music scene, I started playing local festivals, restaurants, and bars. I would occasionally play some cover songs, but only ones that i love. I found it quite fulfilling really. In some sense, more than playing in churches.

    (Keep in mind, that I’m not talking about leading worship at my church, which I still do and love. I’m talking about the traveling church music circuit.)

  9. I’m curious, and this is pseudo relevant, but what would be your opinion of a pastor who collected a six figure salary from a church while hiding a lucrative second full time job for years?

  10. I would be astounded that he could do it, AND hide it. That’s amazing.

    Secrecy never works out good.

  11. That is the story of the GM of our local Christian station. They did a press release when he took over the position that made it sound like he was just screwing around pastoring a church in his spare time… apparently he was.

  12. This is not my world but why is it any different than pastoring. I think this is where Josh was going with his comment so I defer to him.

    A pastor should not ambitiously be seeking the next larger platform, working for PR and fame (and fortune). But faithfully serve in the local church of His calling.

    Our worship leader has been with us since almost the beginning. An incredibly talented and gifted man and in the “old days” did a lot of travelling around in church circles and had a few songs on radio.

    He continues to write new music, every couple of years putting a dozen of new songs together on a new album, and leads us in worship (about half the songs each service are ones he wrote) each Sunday.

    I would think, like with a faithful pastor, that should be enough for a faithful worship leader and it certainly is something available for any to do.

  13. Have the guy try out for American Idol if he thinks he is that good – fame to be gained there.

    The problem is – and I am not just talking church – everyone thinks that they are owed something … even owed opportunity. Life is not run that way.

    What happened to the story of the gus who sold their music out of the trunk of their cars in the 60s and 70s? (or at least that is the story they told. πŸ™‚

  14. A person that is skilled in carpentry and helps build things for a church when he/she can and still has a job outside getting paid for that skill is to be commended but a person with a musical gift that serves in the church when they can but then is fortunate to make a living with their music on a secular label or singing in a bar/restaurant is considered “whoring out their gift”. I don’t get it. Not trying to start something controversial…😬

  15. Pam…well done.
    I’m with you.

  16. MLD – I ran into a guy at Target in the parking lot who was handing out CDs that just had his name and phone number on them with a red sharpie. Black guy and said his CD was rap for the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I immediately admired the guy.

  17. Lesson to worship leaders: don’t ever get old. And by old, I mean, ya know, 30 or so.

    When I was 48, my “pastor” said he was replacing me with a 21-yr. old because they wanted “someone younger up front.”. This is after years, YEARS, of him telling me how Spirit-filled the worship was and how happy he was about that and how important that was, etc….

    And, lo and behold, verse 1, repeat, chorus 2x, verse 2, bridge, etc…. became the order of the day. The day the music died.

  18. Michael – well there you have it. Hey what if the guy was a painter (the canvas type) – most of them no one hears of and if they do get known chances are it’s after the are under the grass.

    Church music types (I will exclude Josh) are a different breed.

  19. I was the one that said “whoring out their gift”, but I think they SHOULD play in restaurants and festivals and such. Like I do. (or did before I got too busy.)

  20. No need to exclude me, I am different for sure.

  21. An old chestnut of mine – how did we ever designate the song leader as the worship leader. It designates that the teaching, prayer etc or anything else that goes on Sunday morning is not worship.

    At my church, the pastor is the worship leader and the songs are led by the music director – some churches have an actual minister of music.

  22. My actual title is Minister of Music. You are correct that worship leader is a misnomer.

  23. Pam,
    Making money on a barstool is, to me, much preferred to making money in the church.
    I simply can’t imagine being paid to worship God.

  24. Good point at #23 MLD – We try hard to emphasize worship is all of it, the music, prayers, teaching, giving, Scripture reading. If you recall that was the foundation in the bulletin at CCCM so that was my roots….but at the same time, I call the guy who leads the music the worship leader too. In my circles the lingo is too established to try and break without confusion.

  25. I call myself worship leader just because people understand what that means.

  26. The issue here is that gifted musicians cannot break out of the closed systems to get exposure.
    I find it odd that Christians with a musical gift are supposed to be content with using their gift in anonymity as a sacrifice to the Lord.

    Very odd to me.

  27. Also, I never referred to myself as a “worship leader,” though others did. I saw the position as a facilitator, and once the congregation is singing, the “leader” should back off.

  28. hmmm… may be time to take a stand – to return to Music Minister and let people figure out what that means … πŸ™‚

  29. Steve, then they should really call the power point audio visual guy the worship leader. Its this guy that actually is responsible for getting the words projected onto the screen so we can all read them since few use hymn books any more.

  30. There are ways to climb that ladder, Michael. I tried, and was to some degree successful for a few years. My experience is that it is not worth it. Make great art that you can stake all your integrity upon. Serve in anonymity if you must, but make great art. The art is way more satisfying than the exposure.

  31. β€œ”I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. “But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
    ‭‭Amos‬ ‭5:21-24‬ ‭NASB‬‬
    http://bible.com/100/amo.5.21-24.nasb

    I remember Glen Kaiser quoting that in his liner notes, talking about music born out of corporatism, rather than local church worship or evangelistic outreach (he does it on the streets of Chicago).

    Salient point, imho.

  32. Michael,
    There is a difference between “Christian music” and “worship.”
    I considered it a sacred privilege to start out the music we used to praise God and Him alone in the congregation. (God-centered)
    It is wholly another matter to listen to “Christian music” about how we need God, or how He makes us feel, or even how we love Him (man-centered).
    Unfortunately, the lines are more and more becoming blurred so that people don’t even know which is which.
    And I actually agree with MLD that worship is the sum total of our lives, not the songs we sing.
    Anyway, you are right and I am digressing, sorry.
    Seems related, though.

  33. MLD had a good point about not being owed an opportunity. The closed system is the preexisting Christian music industry, which really is just a product tailored to sell to a Christian audience. If you either don’t fit into what they want to sell, or aren’t willing to tailor your music to what they are trying to sell, then you will have to create your own market and demand like most other musicians do.

    Concentrate on making good music, and make your own opportunities. It’s not easy and there is a really good chance that you won’t ever make it big, that is just the reality of being an artist, or really having big dreams in any sense.

  34. It’s funny that we speak of a “closed” system. But I wonder what a list would look like of the number of newcomers say over the past 5 yrs that had no recording contracts, now do?

    I can’t imagine a recording company turning down sure money makers.

    And for those who can’t break in at their church music scene – my church has a standing weekly announcement that we need more people in our choir. We are down to less than 12.

    Opportunity abounds. But think of my – I check each spring for open tryouts for 67 yr old 3rd basement. Zilch, Nada, Nothing, Bupkis.

  35. Well, the internet killed the recording industry. There are VERY few record contracts given out at all anymore, and even less that will actually make money for the artist. That’s talking general market, much less the tiny Christian subset.

  36. Goes back to my pastoral point. If a guy is a gifted teacher should he bemoan that the Christian book industry is pretty closed too and mostly filled with tripe.

    A guy in our congregation wrote a book about being homeless, getting saved, and now back in society and he self-published and last year I think he went to a couple dozen Barnes and Noble stores where they set him up to sign copies and talk about it. A local newspaper did an interview and plugged the book. And he really doesn’t spend a lot of time in self-promotion but just opening doors that get opened, knocking on a few here and there, and content to be used to the extent God wishes to use his book.

    It seems to me there is no better time on earth to be alive if one is an artist looking to expand his/her influence and reach with as many people as possible given the reach of social media.

  37. MLD, I hear word that Detroit wants to try Miguel Cabrera at third again this year, so keep hope alive.

  38. We don’t have a worship leader, we have a choir director. The choir sings throughout the whole service and the congregation follows along. The choir doesn’t perform special musical numbers. Typically the choir is out of sight, either off to the side behind a pillar or up in the choir loft which is behind the congregation. They are never up front performing. Since we don’t use instruments, the choir keeps the rest of us on track. No hymnal, no power point. It is 80 percent the same music every week and we know it all by heart, assuming we know the language at that particular parish.

  39. ” given the reach of social media.”

    Definitely true, though it doesn’t equate into $$. For most musicians, constant touring is the only way to make money now. Social media definitely helps in that area. You can build a fan base for your show in places you’ve never been. That used to be virtually impossible.

  40. Xenia, if the choir is singing throughout the whole service when does the pastor teach or preach?

  41. As I understood it, the post was about breaking into the established corporate organizations and how it’s nearly impossible to do that. Being a worship leader is a whole different subject. Why should these guys just settle for a whorish system that doesn’t help anyone? I don’t blame them for wanting to distribute their writing. Most artists do want to share their art and this would be sharing on a grand level.

  42. Josh…I hear you. I guess maybe people are talking about two different things.

    1) How to become popular enough to make a living in the Christian music industry.

    2) How to use one’s gift to bless and edify as many people as possible.

    Neither is right or wrong and I am not suggesting some special purity or holiness in #2 that is missing in #1, but if one wants to make a living in any field or industry, there are always hurdles that must be overcome and many will fail, many will not want to pay the price to succeed (and thus fail), some will survive and make a nice modest contented living, some will prosper immensely.

    Insurance sales is no different than Christian music from that perspective. I could tell plenty of tales about the big guys, closed systems and the like from two decades in insurance.

  43. I read this book called “Guerilla Marketing” many moons ago about using unusual means to accomplish your goals.
    If there is any time in history where opportunity for “means” abounds, it is now in the wild west that is the internet.
    You can, for free: start your own YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, GoFundMe, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumbler, etc etc
    Stop banging your head against the brick insular wall of “Christian” music publishing and use the free stuff available. You never can tell where it will lead!

  44. Cash,

    You understood correctly. πŸ™‚

  45. Thanks Michael.

  46. In a way that is true, but in other ways, music is, and always has been, different from Insurance or Carpentry or Car Sales. It is more like aspiring to be a pro athlete. There are just VERY very few spots available. Again, if you narrow that down to Christian music, the number of people who can make a living is tiny. It just is. It’s not even really about closed systems, it is about the lack of demand for pro musicians, versus the millions of kids who want to be rock stars.

    That’s really the end of it. So what do you do? You either play the game and lose your soul. Or you make art that you can be proud of and get another job.

  47. many christian artists are taking their talents and using them in a secular setting. That is not whoring out their talent, it is exercising the freedom to create the music, writing the literature, or painting the canvas without direction from those in a closed system–who meddle with the process and enforce a strict code over the product. I teach in the public schools though I am convinced my spiritual gift is ‘teaching.’ I have not been able to ‘stick’ in the closed systems of many churches, so I teach to utilize my skill set and gifts to feed my family. Many would prefer to express their talents in a church setting for the glory of God and the encouragement of the saint, but can’t get past the doorkeepers.

  48. by the way, a closed system is the perfect analogy for the topic. think ‘septic tank.’

  49. The current edition of The Amazing Race features viral internet stars. The only guy I had ever heard of was the frisbee guy who films those crazy long distance trick shots. My kids on the other hand knew of several of them.

  50. AS the originator of the “whoring” comment, I hope it is understood that I did not mean playing in “secular” venues was whoring. I meant wantering down the art in order to jump through the hoops of the Christian system was whoring.

  51. “1) How to become popular enough to make a living in the Christian music industry.”

    Here’s one way: The music director at my former UMC church, who only does traditional hymns, also directs community youth choirs, music camps and gives singing lessons. It is part of his music ministry which extends from the church into the community. He draws youth from outside the church into this Christian ministry, which is not designed to recruit people to the UMC church from other churches, so it is widely received.

    This all adds up to a comfortable living for he and his wife, who also teaches voice and piano. They are very nice people.

  52. Filbertz brings up an interesting point and maybe another thread is needed on it, but the whole secular vs. Christian music is a huge issue.
    The CC we attended went so far as to condemn all secular music as of the devil.
    So you can imagine the confusion of those who may have had to make their money that way.

  53. Josh @48 – I hear you on that one too. Remember the 80s hair bands? The MTV formula that required first video to rock, 2nd to be some love ballad with an edge. I remember Heart (who certainly had already made it but had disappeared) when they made their mid 80s comeback giving an interview of the stuff they had to do that they hated in order to please the video masters to promote the album. This from two women who had real talent.

    My point though was that it is possible to pay the bills doing what you love. Yeah, you will never fit one of those slots that have so few openings, but you can do it and be content….better than paying the bills doing something you hate. (By the way, there are very few slots in insurance if you want to make it big there too. )

  54. I remember my time at Ocean Hills, they really tried to build up the music ministry – gave lessons and everything.

    But most of the opportunities were for leading “worship” in a home bible study (they need music too), convalescent homes, to go with a pastor / teacher to strum along or perhaps spacial occasions.

    Most who started the program dropped out because the main stage was not available to them and that was what they wanted – they didn’t want to edify only 10 people each week.

  55. Most Christian artist that I listen to are already outside the mainstream sound-du-jour(AIr 1, I’m looking at you), and as far as I am concerned, I am happy about that. If they became mainstream that would likely mean watering down the message or the method of delivery.

    Most of these folks are either using Kickstarter to fund the production of new music, or else are self financed.

    And because they don’t get played on Air 1, most will never hear them, in spite of the accolades of the quality of work, even by non-Christians – see Extol http://www.npr.org/sections/bestmusic2013/2013/12/19/255540468/10-favorite-metal-albums-of-2013

    Also, websites like http://www.angelicwarlord.com/home/index.html are focused on the Christian Hard Rock/Heavy Metal genre, so if that interests you, go check it out.

  56. Most who started the program dropped out because the main stage was not available to them and that was what they wanted – they didn’t want to edify only 10 people each week.
    ————————————————-
    Bingo.

    Same with Bible teaching. I had to pull teeth to find someone in School of Ministry to sub for me at the Sunday nursing home on rare weekends I was out of town. I doubt Chuck would have had the same problem if he came to our class and asked one of us to fill in for him in the sanctuary midweek.

  57. Steve – true.

    I could have paid the bills forever touring the country as a sideman for other artists. Never would have gotten rich, but those kind of jobs are available (assuming you are really, really, good). I did it for about 10 years, but then wanted to be home and have a family. I make part of my living from music now, but mostly from a desk job that is not my passion. It’s cool though, because my family is my passion, and we all have to set priorities and make sacrifices, and choose one good thing over another.

  58. Josh, I am sure you would not be surprised that for the almost 20 years I was involved in some sort of pastoral Bible teaching ministry while selling insurance and overseeing an insurance agency my heart was with the thing that was not paying the bills.

    Having the family as your #1 passion is what it is all about. A lesson whether one is a teacher or worship leader. It’s what keeps a guy at a desk job rather than destroy the family in the name of “ministry success”

  59. Josh’s 59 and Steve’s 60…Bravo!!!

  60. I taught in rest homes, juvenile offender facilities, junior high school sunday school classes, home groups, etc. and all were worth it in and of themselves. I didn’t have an agenda, but when an opening came for a position and I applied, the faithful teachers out of sight took a back seat to the ‘flashy guy’ who’d caught their eye somewhere else. Funny, but the leadership dudes always patted us lackeys on the back and offered the carrot of ‘faithfulness in the small things…’ then froze us out. Closed system…

  61. Hi Andrew,

    The choir sings throughout the service but not continually. A liturgy is a back and forth, almost a call and response, between the priest, the deacon, the readers, the choir and the congregation. Except for the homily, someone is chanting or singing continually.

    Our homilies are typically quite short and are not the main event. Usually Fr. will make a few comments on the day’s Gospel reading, ten minutes tops. He usually gives them at the very tail end of the Liturgy.

    The Liturgy itself is almost completely taken from Scripture.

  62. I will say this though…art is a personal expression and passion and an artist should keep on producing for his/her own sake rather than the approval of others or because they might make a living from it. Most writers make the mistake of thinking they must be published for validation rather than recognizing the process of writing validates itself. The singer needs to sing, the musician needs to play, etc. whether they record or not, perform or not, etc. Honor the gift and the Giver, not the audience.

  63. Josh’s 59 and Steve’s 60 are right on. Lots of other good things being said here, too. Christian music business is that–a business. My music partners and I have taken the opposite approach. We try hard to make sure it is NOT a business. Our music is prescriptive…we stay flexible and adjust to what ever doors God opens for us to share truth. Two weeks ago we played at the bedside of a dying saint. The next week we played at her funeral. That night the worship leader’s partner couldn’t make it so we stepped in and helped lead worship. Next week we will play at a major festival in our music genre (secular). Each of these were doors that God opened and we walked through. In each case we have made it clear that it is our ministry and we ask for no money. Every time, God has taken care of our needs and provided abundantly…often in ways completely unrelated to the music event. He just takes care of us. And yet…people are having a hard time understanding it. It doesn’t make sense to folks and they keep asking how much we charge and when we will have a CD. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. It makes sense to us FOR us–meaning we don’t expect anybody else to do what we are doing. But I’ll tell you…as a life long musician, I have never felt so blessed by God in the musical process as I do now that we have walked away from the expected way to do things and just rely on His leading through MUCH prayer.

  64. Bingo filbertz.

    When I was recovering from brain surgery, I’d write silly little nonsense songs everyday. I’d play them to my wife at night and giggle about them through my oxycotin haze.

    After one of them I was a little embarrassed, and said “I don’t even know why I’m writing these songs.” She said, “Because you are a songwriter.”

    I thought that was rather profound.

  65. HIs Kid, that sounds amazing!

  66. It is, Josh…for the first time in my life I feel like I am doing music HIS way–totally in His hands and we keep standing back amazed at what He does. Each of these opportunities is a step in our journey, but we are clear to make sure folks know that we are not expecting or wanting it to lead us to anything else. We want to keep doing THIS. One day in a nursing home, the next day in a Homeless Shelter, the next day ???? What ever He tells us, that’s what we’ll do.

  67. Looking back, the only ministry position I ever sought turned out to be one I never even got to formally applying towards – and that would be Army chaplain.

    Nursing home, CCCM various, my first church, India, Baptist church various, CCLE – I was literally asked by another(s) to serve in each of those ministries.

  68. Josh – Your wife is awesome.

    His Kid – Awesome testimony as well. Praise the Lord.

  69. Of course she is. I was quite the catch πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  70. Steve Wright,

    I’ve enjoyed your perspective on this… thank you

  71. Josh @59; do you have alink to your music so we can enjoy some of it? Thanks for considering…

  72. Personally, I’m as bothered as I am unbothered by all of this…

    It’s been open knowledge for a long time how the “industry” is set up. Google “christian radio becky demographic” and you’ll find articles going back almost a decade explaining how christian radio works.

    It makes sense too… In my home town, a ministry started two radio stations in the late 60’s/early 70’s… one on AM the other on FM and both were run on a shoe string budget… until “becky” came along. Now the FM music station is up in the ratings and the AM “teaching/talk” station does pledge drives. I can’t blame the FM station for going with the corporate model and it’s list of 100 artists (and really they only play 20 of those artists 80% and the other 80 are played the rest).

    The downside or at least consequence is that the music that is presented in christian culture isn’t geared towards most of christian culture.

    that just is what it is. I went to high school with one guy who has worked with artists like Johnny Marr and Daft Punk and another guy who is a contractor and does music on the weekends. I don’t consider one better than the other, one just found a way to pay the bills doing it.

  73. I don’t see what the big deal is. CCM is no more closed than the secular recording industry is. If you really want to earn money at music it’s totally possible, but you’re not necessarily going to become famous–and it’s probably going to suck. My husband earned money as a musician–enough so that it was at least a lucrative part-time job–just by being in bands and playing at bars and such. But, it sucks because you’re playing in bars all the time and you’re just background music to people getting drunk and half your band mates are wasted by the end of the night, and if you go around touring you’re stuck in a ratty old bus or van and have crappy accommodations wherever you end up. And it all basically stays the same no matter how successful you get–you may have a nicer tour bus and a good hotel at your destination and people may actually care about listening to your music, but you’re still on the road away from your family all the time and half your band mates are still getting wasted every night.

    The performing arts in general can turn into a bad scene really easily, and even though there are tons of people who want to be successful as performing artists, for the most part, they should probably be glad that they don’t make it because it’s not cushy or comfortable and it can easily become depressing and soul-crushing and there are lots of bad influences and it’s easy to get sucked into bad and unhealthy behavior. And I doubt there’s a lot of difference between the christian performing arts world and the secular performing arts world.

  74. j2theperson,

    agreed. the flip side is that this becomes a scapegoat for people who can’t hack it…

    “the system is rigged”

    “it’s a closed system”

    “the real artists get shut out” etc…

  75. My $0.02 as a big music fan and as an (non-professional) artist (guitar and painting), and I am not involved in any way in the worship industry, nor am I a worship pastor/leader, but just an ordinary guy with a large music collection and who appreciates the arts. So, I don’t have an insider’s perspective on much of this.

    I am truly bothered too by the business model that is used to widely in CCM and as previously alluded to in one of the Tuesday links, the Worship Industry as well.

    What bother’s me also is the lack of originality and creativity in much of what you hear on Christian radio. Also the small playlist (Casting Crowns, Third Day, and Toby Mac are the three biggies these days).

    Oh, and the “whiteness” of Christian Radio and the CCM industry. As an aside, am I the only one bothered that, in your local Christian Bookstore, the Gospel music is always separated from the regular CCM music?

    Again just my $0.02. Much of what has been said here in Michaels posts and the comments I agree with, so not much else to add here.

  76. j2theperson,

    That is one of the reasons why I have never wanted to be a professional musician. Seems like a very unstable and risky (economically and personally) life choice. I much prefer to play guitar and paint while in the privacy of my own home. Someday I hope to show my artwork to the public, and I will certainly encounter much less drunk people at art shows!

  77. Folks just need to be creative. Look at this Will Graham (Franklin’s grandson) and his troupe of musicians are coming to Lave Havasu City for Spring Break.

    I too will be there for Spring Break – even the same 3 days. Party!!!

    http://www.havasunews.com/news/will-graham-celebration-christian-music-acts-aaron-shust-lacey-to/article_cca9c2f6-db6c-11e5-a9d7-9b36899e5d7c.html

  78. you may have to answer an advertising question to get in.
    But see, they make their own gigs.

  79. From MLD’s link: ***β€œOne of my focuses will be the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have a burden for the college kids who are searching for many of the same things the Prodigal Son sought; freedom from rules, fun in the sun, one big party,” said Graham.***

    I literally know no college aged students seeking those things. Mostly they’re just trying to figure out who they are as individuals and new adults and what they’re going to do with their lives. A lot of partying and rule breaking may happen along with that depending on the college student, but partying for partying’s sake is not the driving force behind their behavior. What a joke. Will Graham seems to have a pretty superficial view of people. What a joke.

  80. J2 is classic. Right on.

  81. fyi – I can link it, I can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy it πŸ™‚ I’m a little hesitant because I’m not trying to promote anything on Michael’s page. If he wants to delete this, that’s cool.

    That being said. This is a project I did 2 years ago. If you go to youtube, you should see the whole album playlist. I’m the bald guy singing and playing bass. Also produced it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDV4iEn11o8

  82. Partying for partying sake was the norm where I went to school…and I was not even in a frat where it was far worse.

    Sure around junior senior year some changes take place…but I saw it thousands of times over…

  83. “freedom from rules, fun in the sun, one big party”

    Come on, who isn’t looking for that? We may find our fun and party in different ways…but uh yeah, sounds good to me πŸ™‚

  84. As one who has spent many a Spring Break out at Lake Havasu (as an outside observer of course) over the past 40 yrs, these yunguns party for the sake of partying – and to out party the person next to them.

    Since I will be up there that weekend, I just may just go over to check out the clientele.

  85. As someone who has spent the last several months helping my senior high school son investigate and apply to various colleges across the nation – the degree to which a school is a “party school” is as much a standard evaluation point as most anything else that shows up as you go online in your research.

    Best, worst, underrated…all the categories of party school are there….

  86. I guess what I’m trying to say is, partying for partying’s sake is not what they intend to do with the rest of their lives. It’s not what they’re “seeking” out of life per se. Yes, they do a lot of it, but that’s not all they want. They are still going to college and wanting to get jobs and have lives.

  87. I agree with j2. No issue here. All professional music is a closed system tough to break into. Some here are trying to blame “the rigged system”. Fortunately with Internet and satellite radio there are many more avenues to get your music out of you are creative and, more important, actually talented. It’s sad that the elitists posting here dismiss all mainstream Christian music, including worship music, as drivel. Phil Wickham is not drivel. 10th ave North isn’t drivel. Matt Redman is not drivel. These are just a few artists that are blessing millions of people

  88. Oh gosh. Stop with your “elitists posting here” garbage. We have different tastes. Phil Wickham’s Cannons album was fantastic. It got no air time. His subsequent albums have been far more successful. Listen to them. You can tell a major difference. He watered it down for K-Love. Period. Look, its the deal you have to make if you want to break through in that world. My bet is that when he has enough money, he’ll go back to making big, rich albums like Cannons.

  89. Xenia @ 63

    That seems simply beautiful!

  90. This might have nothing to do with the topic directly. But….. CCLI. Now, I agree that the workman is worthy of his wages, so the music writer should be compensated. However, I’m personally offended by the world’s copyright stamp forcing a payment to an agency (CCLI) that has full domination over me playing a song in church. I personally believe it is too structured, too organized, too worldly corporate. It’s tiring, and really, the songs are banal so often anyway. In our church, we’re digging up songs that we thought should have been “hits” but weren’t, and the people are adoring them. They’ll never get played on the radio, but our people don’t care. Anyway, just some thoughts

  91. I agree with lots of that Jess. I have considered going fully public domain and skipping CCLI all together. We have hymnals so we could use anything in there as long as we don’t project the lyrics. There are some modern artists who share their music, royalty free. I have written some songs we could use.

    My holdup is I’d have to get everybody on board to go that route. Congregational rule makes everything slow.

  92. Josh,
    “Back in the day” there was a little known gathering on Thursday nights after CCCM’s service/study called “Afterglow”. We had no songbooks, no projected lyrics. Lights were dimmed and the 1.5hr time was about personal connection with Jesus. What I would do is have verse, chorus, verse, chorus which were singable, often call & response. Volume level was based on everyone being able to hear one another, plus acoustic guitar.

    It was a time of glorious worship in the presence of God.
    When I was a guest “worship leader” at various churches over the past 30 years I did the same thing and it was well received, mostly because of the cultures in those churches.

    Now I’ve rejoined a “worship team” serving gatherings of addicts who want to seek Jesus, and musically crank it up. These days of greater stage volume & PowerPoint lyrics, whenever I’m given the opportunity to “lead out” I revert back to creating that worship space which is about community together, instrumentation and “leading” relegated to serving us, the band being least.

    …and they rarely let me lead
    =)

  93. The afterglows sound nice G. Shortly after i was saved, and my younger sister was saved, we’d invite a couple friends over to my parents house and just sit in the floor with my acoustic guitar and sing simple little choruses about Jesus. Eyes closed, hands raised, tears…just a few dirty kids. We had no clue what we were doing. We started doing it every Friday night instead of going out. We ended up with over 60 teenagers every week, crammed into my parents small living room.

    It felt like the book of Acts in there. As a new Christian, I thought that it would always be that way. In reality, I haven’t seen anything like it sense.

  94. Josh,
    Time to do it again, put a date on the calendar!

  95. G πŸ™‚ I’ve tried and tried. Just can’t get God to show up the same. I never learned the formula.

  96. #94-it has always made sense to me to sing and worship after the teaching… oh maybe one song to let the Lord know we’re here before the teaching… but save the worship until you’ve got your mind on the things of the Lord and have a heart to worship … or so it seemed to me

  97. We sing all through the service

  98. Josh the Baptist, that is kind of the direction we are going in. We still put the lyrics up, but, more and more of the songs we do, are not just the standard “Christian radio” stuff by Chris Redman and Matt Tomlin (yes, I did that on purpose LOL)

    We’re finding songs that were written by various worship leaders in different churches, that never had a chance due to being buried under the “popular” stuff. Some amazing stuff, and really, isn’t it about the right heart, and a Biblical message, in the worship song? The Lord loves it, and that’s all that matters.

  99. That sound great Jess – any resources you’d recommend?

  100. Josh – here, get these to put in the pews.
    The settings of service, the order of service
    All kinds of good stuff – all the psalms – I think there are over 600 hymns – and divided by church seasons.

    And much, much more.

    http://www.cph.org/p-98-lutheran-service-book-pew-edition.aspx

  101. We have these : http://www.hymnary.org/hymnal/BH1991

    672 pages of hymns from a wide variety of authors and composers, praise and worship songs, responsive readings, and other worship enhancements. For added flexibility, each hymnal contains detailed, easy-to-use indices: first line and titles with keys; topical index of hymns; Scripture readings; authors; composers and sources; metrical index of tunes; index of medleys.

    They are actually a newer version than 1991. Probably around 2000.

  102. “G πŸ™‚ I’ve tried and tried. Just can’t get God to show up the same. I never learned the formula.”

    Methinks we’re on to something here.
    God doesn’t “show up.”
    There is no “formula.”

    “just sit in the floor with my acoustic guitar and sing simple little choruses about Jesus. Eyes closed, hands raised, tears…just a few dirty kids”

    God, Who Is Always Already Here-Now

    You showed up.
    =)

    Maybe you and your friends just return to simplicity?
    May it be

  103. The Sunday morning Liturgy is not a Bible study. We don’t carry Bibles to church. It is a prayer and worship service, culminating in the Eucharist. Bible studies can happen at another time and place, in a more informal setting.

  104. Josh – well there you go – you have all the music you need.

  105. The original “Maranatha” music groups were totally abused and taken advantage of.

    There were a lot of stories of groups traveling the church circuit.

    They would spend their own money for gas and traveling expenses.

    Pastors would declare to their congregations, “These young men have traveled far to bless us so lets show them our appreciation with this special offering.

    As the offering baskets were being passed it was obvious that the people were being very generous.

    Upon leaving the church the pastor would hand over a sealed envelope with a check inside.

    While having dinner at a local restaurant the music group would open the envelope and find that the amount of the check was only $15.00.

    It had cost the group personally upwards of $300 or more to get to the church and back to their home church and all they were given was that small sum.

    They knew that the congregation had given more than $15.00 but their pastor had commandeered the bulk of the donation.

    This happened time after time until the groups had to quit traveling to other churches out of poverty…

    If anyone doubts this just ask Oden Fong.

    His “Mustard Seed Faith” band got abused.

    But you know they continued to play for free in prisons and mental institutions etc.

    They were not serving themselves but serving the Lord.

    I know a lot of the stories because I was the roadie for what was called “The Marantha Circut” for Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.

  106. Years ago, I served on a worship team with a worship leader who wrote some really good worship songs. We recorded his songs and submitted them to a board of worship leaders from large Calvary Chapels who made the determination what new songs would be released at the annual Calvary Chapel Worship Conference. His songs were never accepted; more often than not the songs that were released, recorded and distributed at the conference were songs written by the worship leaders on that board who oversaw the conference.

  107. Surfer51 & Ixtlan,
    I wanted to be a Maranatha! musician until I experienced and heard those same stories.

    We musicians tend to be idealistic and as a subculture we’re notorious for saving every penny for a $2000 guitar to put into a $1500 beater car to play at a gig that pays $50. πŸ˜‰

    Like Josh related, the sweetest experiences are when a bunch of “dirty kids” grab their instruments and just pour out their hearts and music to Jesus.

    …glad he didn’t say how old a “dirty kid” could be =)

  108. Well, I always wanted to be the Dodgers’ 3rd baseman – but you know – that too is a closed system. If you have trouble with the curve, you are closed out.

    I think we all think our work product is better than what the decision makers give us credit for. That’s why the term “put on your big boy pants” was invented. πŸ™‚

  109. mld,
    Always such a jerk. I don’t think you even know what “big boy pants” are.

    It wasn’t my work, other than being asked to sit in on the recording session. Since I studied music all the way through college, I think I can offer a fair, objective, and informed assessment in this field.

    At least I’m not still wearing a Dodger team jersey. I gave that up in 7th grade.

  110. I wasn’t talking about you – I was talking about those who claim the deck is stacked. I am still addressing the main article.

    But since you bring it up – many have played baseball at a high level all the way through college and get no call on draft day. Why is breaking into music any different?

    Again, we all think our work product is better than those who make the decisions, those who scratch the check

  111. Love this thread and much of the commenting. There are so many comments and almost all of it was civil. It causes me to ask a simple question: why can’t we make a habit of this and treat each other with respect as a rule, instead of just an exception? The regulars here all know the Fruits of the Spirit. The pastors here even must teach on it on occasion. When the subject matter is something more controversial, why is it so easy to throw these fruits under the bus and start talking like jerks at each other? Is this the way that Jesus taught his disciples to discuss things? And the worst offenders here are pastors, elders and other leaders in a local church. I am none of those things, but I see a problem with throwing kindness, gentleness, self-control and humility out the window.

  112. One of the things about studying “classical music” is that it can be instructive about the history of patronage systems. The stuff that’s stuck around long enough for us to talk about it has been stuff people have been willing to pay to keep around or get to begin with. There’s a lot of fine music being made today but a disadvantage of the democratization of access and distribution is the exponentially greater difficulty in finding stuff. There have been great albums I’ve heard where I only heard of them because the musicians could email me directly.

    The thing about art for the sake of art I’ve been thinking about over the years is that I wonder if we realize that can be a euphemism for “make art at a financial loss because you want to make something beautiful”. We have more and more ways to make music and make it available but fewer and fewer “sure things” as to how to monetize it. When Haydn was composing all of his music it was functionally “work for hire”, owned by his patron, and he was compensated for his services. There wasn’t any such thing as mechanical royalties for licensed use then, not like what we’ve had over the last century.

  113. Ever since I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s film The Wind Rises I’ve been thinking about how it can be “read” as both about arms development in aviation and as a meditation on the artist in a nation-state. The engineer Jiro wants to make something beautiful but that beautiful thing he makes is a war machine, and he is blind to the reality that what his art was constituted a reflection of the anxieties and ambitions of an empire.

    Empires are run by people who know what they want and occasionally know how to get it. It would be nice to imagine that artists and armies are different but the older I get the less I think this is true. The Baroque era in the arts was about splendor and power, whether of gods or men. Our era is no different. With possible exceptions like Bulgarian folk music an art will frequently be a manifestation of the interests of an empire and the aristocratic class of its time and place.

  114. Mr Jesperson (post #113):

    You are right. I am sometimes afraid to post anything even on a Christian website for fear that someone is going to post something negative and “jerk-like” about what I posted, even if it is something non-controversial.

    On the Christian Post website recently (unfortunately, a cesspool of negativity in the comments sections), there was an article about Tim Tebow appearing on the Ellen show and talking about what he is looking for in a wife. A commenter posted a statement saying they couldn’t believe that a believer would be on her show, and said something negative about Tim Tebow’s faith because he was on her show.

    I POLITELY responded by stating that I disagreed with her comment, and stated that that is how Jesus would have acted. Jesus did NOT hide from the world, but associated frequently with those that the religious establishment considered dirty and evil and untouchable, and the sinners. You should have seen the inane and jerk-like comments I got in return. I didn’t even bother defending my view, post, or even responded back.

    Sometimes I think the best thing to do when encountering a situation like that is to either not respond back in kind, or at all, or use humor to diffuse the situation. Rarely on some of these websites will confronting the hate/jerks with admonition about their behavior do any good. You will probably get bitten anyways.

    On sites like this one I think the clientele are much more mature than the commentators on The Christian Post website, but every so often I too see less than Christ-like behavior and outright judgmental and angry responses.

    People just need to chill and not respond so quickly, or at all.

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