Sunday, June 19, 2016

Music for Nothing?

For some reason, musicians the world over (maybe even more than other artistic people like authors or painters) have become obsessed with their music being “worth” something. That if they aren’t earning enough to pay their bills, and make a nice life, then music just isn’t even worth doing.

It’s probably due to the crazy 20th century and how the phonograph, album, and CD made billions of dollars for musicians and record companies for just over 100 years. But now that the internet has brought music to the world through cheap and free streaming, music folk are screaming that they aren’t getting paid enough.

I just read an article where Roger Daltrey of the Who said they weren't going to make a new album because it wouldn't make any money! 

“We've talked about it, but it's not going to be easy. There's no record industry anymore. Why would I make a record? I would have to pay to make a record. There's no royalties so I can't see that ever happening. There's no record business. How do you get the money to make the records? I don't know. I'm certainly not going to pay money to give my music away free. I can't afford to do that. I've got other things I could waste the money on.” – Roger Daltrey

Then maybe you should indeed waste your money on other things, Roger. I’m sure you have enough. Perhaps your music isn't important enough if you're only making it for financial gain.

To me that says, you don't want people to hear an artistic statement or even go to the trouble of making music if you don't get paid for it. That’s just sad.

That kind of thinking goes against not just art, but why God gave us our talents in the first place. He didn't say, “Here are talents to use for Me and share with the world…but only if YouTube and Spotify pay well!”

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I believe our talents are our voice, our gift to the world, and in ministry our evangelistic tools. Everyone deserves, maybe even needs, to hear them even if they only get to listen once or come across it in a Facebook feed.

Your music may never pay the bills, but it may save someone's eternal soul. What's the cost/benefit ratio there? Is it worth it if you bring happiness, fulfillment, joy, and possibly heaven to someone, even if you don’t get paid for it?

"If you can do anything else other than music, do that instead."  ― Well known music quote.

Those of us who do music consistently (and sometimes for an attempt at a living) do it because we can't NOT do it. We can't possibly shut it off, stop the music from coming out, or not want to share it with the world. 

For those of us like this, there is no way to wake up every day for the rest of our lives and just not do music.

What I'd say to Roger is, if you can quit doing music, then maybe you should go do other things. Who are you, indeed!

“There is hardly any money interest in art, and music will be there when money is gone.” – Duke Ellington

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland happens to make a living through music, but not necessarily his own. But he still makes what he feels he must and gets it out to the world. You can find out more at

If you are a Christian artist ready to make music for a hurting world (despite what it may make you) check out


Sharon Hock said...

Such a great article. I have often felt impressed to bless someone with one of my Cd's or felt impressed to just sing a spontaneous song or one of my songs over them. It is so fulfilling and very worth it when they come up to me later and tell me how much it blessed or touched them or was just what they needed to hear right then. To my way of thinking God gave me my voice as a gift and that gift is a calling to use it to touch others lives. Yes, while it is nice to make money from it and I like when I do, that should not be my number one focus. If I am only going to sing when I get paid to do so - those who are sick and hurting who I have sung over, those who were encouraged, healed and uplifted are going to miss out on something and I miss out also! ~ Sharon Hock

Christian Band said...

Ministry and money is always such a challenge! We need money to pay the bills of ministry, but it's so easy to fall prey to seeking money first. Once again, it all comes down to our hearts. Be wise, use every tool at your disposal to make as much money as possible with your music so you can afford to pay for your ministry. But also guard your heart diligently. The only way to do that is to stay in love with Jesus and spend time with Him daily. Relationship with God first, (ministry) using our music to draw people closer to Him second. Then base your business and money decisions on God's guidance for what is best for the ministry.

Eric Copeland said...

Good comments folks.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem either with getting paid for a gig, download, or yes even Spotify payments. But to concentrate on what we're NOT getting makes no sense, when we have been given a great gift and any audience to minister to.

George Tifft said...

Great topic Eric. I once had a similar conversation with a group of Pastors that were complaining that they were not being compensated fairly by their ministries.And I asked them the question: "Would you do it for nothing"? And they responded with the pat answer "A workman is worthy of his wages". Which is true, but if you do it only because of the money, you are no longer a "minister of the gospel" but rather a hireling. I too enjoy when I receive a generous offering after an event. It keeps the wheels on the bus turning. But my choice of venue, presentation or performance are not determined by the potential of reward. God has met me at every turn and I absolutely love what I do... And would do it for nothing. I already have my reward and it is Jesus living in me. He did not have to choose me, but He did... So I sing!

Tim Davis Band said...

I read the article you refer to. I believe Daughtry wasn't saying he wasn't going to make music unless he got paid, he was saying he wasn't going to spend the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to record a professional album when most of the world isn't willing to pay for music anymore. Most people today expect music to be free and most of us artists don't have the ability to spend thousands of dollars to record music only to give it away. That doesn't mean we aren't going to make music, write songs, and perform for the public, it just means that trying to make a living with music, even a modest living, has become practically futile.
Prior to the invention of recording, professional musician was one of the highest paid and most respected professions. If you wanted to hear music, you either made it yourself (most family members played some sort of instrument) or you had to hire a professional musician. If you were throwing a party you couldn't just slap a record on the turntable, you had to hire professional, live musicians.
I, like nearly every true music artist, will continue to make music, write songs, and share those God given talents with all who have an ear to listen. I can't not. I believe music is my personal ministry. But like Daughtry, I'm not going to spend tens of thousands of dollars having a professionally recorded, produced, and mastered project when there are only a handful of folks left who see any monetary value in it.

Eric Copeland said...

Good stuff George! My little poster child for Christian artistry!

I hear what you are saying Tim, and I don't really disagree. I just felt the tone of the article was more from the side that says, well the music industry isn't what it was so we ain't making music to do all the work again. They could make a great album, go on tour and make billions off touring and sales!! But that is much harder than making an album, releasing it, and then sitting on their butts in their mansions. Maybe they don't deserve anymore of our money.

Jen Haugland said...

It's why Paul was a tent maker. So he didn't place the burden of his ministry on others. Was making tents more important than going and spreading the gospel as a minister? I don't think so. It was a means to an end. But I am sure he made the best tents in his skilled craftsmanship and shared the gospel there at work. I am so thankful to have the means of employment so I, too, can pour into my songwriting and music ministry.

Maybe Daughtry will see it that way in practice? Somehow you have to have a decent recording of your music to share it with people. I think this has forced the industry to start looking at things in a way they have never had to look at before. And certainly anyone who has made it big in their artistry, started somewhere at the bottom and had to put out not only the equity sweat, but their own finances before they were ever signed. Egos and pride can make the fall hard.

It's not hard to understand this concept when you are in music ministry and doing it because God has called you to it.

Rachel Barrentine said...

Maybe Guitar Center should start giving us guitars for free...and producers should stop charging, and gas stations should fill up our tanks, and Apple should start giving us computers and ProTools...all for free. Wouldn't that be nice?

I get what you're saying here - it matters simply because it is a gift from God. We should do it if we are called to do it. I am called to do it. But it does fire me up that I don't get a paycheck or that I can't even help my household income, especially when I work my butt off.

By and large, I know of no other art industry where the craft is so undervalued. Even photographers (who's pro equipment costs less than a recording rig) get paid 5x higher for a single photograph that took them seconds to make. Meanwhile, I pay $1000 to record a song, and spend hours writing it. It is ridiculous.

That being said, I do a lot of ridiculous concerts...ridiculous ministry events...because I believe in the power of music. And apparently, I believe in ridiculous. I believe God calls us to love ridiculously and to pour out in ridiculous amounts. I believe God uses ridiculous to change lives...

This notion of ridiculous though, does not negate the fact that the worker is worth his/her wage. When the rest of the world goes to work, they don't get a pat on the back. They get a paycheck. And Apple certainly isn't going to let you steal their intellectual property/art are they now?

I actually think artists need to value themselves more. Realize what they are doing matters - and ask for more. If the church or venue can't do it - then it's up to the artist to negotiate or decide whether to do the gig. But often times we have not because we ask not. And we don't ask because we have already devalued ourselves.

Do what you love. Ask for what you need. Proceed according to the Spirit's leading...