Merry Christmas 2013

Bad Music Jokes for Christmas

Don’t disappoint the kids this Christmas. You know they expect you to have bad music jokes ready for them. Don’t have any jokes? Here ya go –
Bad Christmas Jokes

FREE Kindle Book – How to Create a Website Using WordPress

How To Create A Website Using WordPress: The Beginner’s Blueprint for Building a Professional Website in 3 Easy Steps (Plus 40+ Premium WordPress Video Tutorials)

We have said it before and will continue to say it—if you are trying to build a long term, sustainable music ministry do not rely on your social media pages. All your social media pages and profiles should link back to your website.

Don’t be intimidated by computer-ese. Don’t pay big bucks to someone else to build your website and then not know how to update and maintain it. You can build your own website with WordPress (I did!). This book and videos will teach you how.

We also have a full category of posts to help you out: Design a Website

Humidify Your GuitarWinter, not my favorite time of year. Honestly, some days I just don’t open the curtains because I do not want to see all the white stuff on the ground. I complain about it too. Alot. My throat gets sore, my hair needs extra conditioning and my skin gets dry. I dream of the warm ocean breeze.

Did you know that your guitar can dry out too? The same lack of humidity that causes your body to feel dry in winter can really damage guitars. If guitars could dream, they would probably dream of the warm ocean breezes during the winter months too.

Most of us carry our instruments in cases to prevent damage from being bumped around. These same cases minimize the temperature changes our instruments experience when being transported from warm rooms to outdoor temps to vehicles. If you live in a northern climate you probably already know to let your guitar warm up inside the case for an hour or so during the winter before trying to tune it. The wood simply does not respond well to rapid temperature changes. It can expand, contract and even warp depending on the temperature. Humidity, or lack of humidity, can also have a damaging and long term affect on your guitar. Acoustic guitars tend to get all the publicity when it comes to humidity, but electric guitars are affected as well.


The Warning Signs

Guitars that have experienced too much dry air (low humidity) can have these problems:

• At first, the instrument tone just sounds a little off. The wood is changing so the tone of the guitar changes, not usually for the better.

• The fret ends feel sharp. The fretboard shrinks, which leaves the fret ends sticking out just a little. Your guitar may become painful to play, but most often the sharp frets ends do not cut your fingers. They simply become an annoyance that cause your transitions between chords and runs to be less smooth.

• The strings buzz. Did your guitar play fine last week but the strings buzz this week? It is probably not because your fingers are weaker, or you are not playing as well as you did last week. This is a good sign that the fretboard has changed because the instrument is too dry.

• The guitar doesn’t tune easily and tends to fall out of tune quickly. The neck can warp. Most often your guitars fretboard and neck are not made from the same wood. One may shrink faster than the other and cause the neck to twist. Good luck keeping your guitar in tune then.

• The finish is checkered and the wood is cracked. The entire guitar is vulnerable to cracking: the fretboard, neck and body, especially areas where wood is joined together. Cracking is extremely expensive to repair.


Guitars are expensive to replace.
Guitars are expensive to repair.
So, the best way we can save money
on our instruments is to prevent damage.


Have you ever noticed that stores which sell new guitars often keep them in a separate room? These rooms are temperature and humidity controlled. We need to do the same thing with our own guitars. We can either keep our guitars on a stand in a climate controlled room or store them in cases and control the climate within the guitar case. Either is fine, depending on how accessible you need your guitar to be.

The humidity in your home or practice site can vary widely. It is influenced by outdoor humidity, but is not usually the same. So, checking the weather is not going to give you an accurate measure of the humidity your guitar is experiencing if it is in an open room or in the case.

What you need to measure humidity is called a hygrometer. They come in digital (number display) or analog (gauge display). Either display works, but most musicians prefer the digital display because it is easy to check with a quick glance.


The best selling and most popular hygrometers for musicians are:

Caliber IV Digital Hygromter by Western Humidor

Oasis Digital Hygrometer with case clip

Both of these hygrometers are inexpensive, fit well inside a guitar case, are easy to read and have good reviews on Amazon.

However, until you get a hygrometer that costs in the hundreds of dollars, their readings are not necessarily accurate. Each hygrometer can be calibrated differently, usually within a 5-15% range. Fortunately, the range that each hygrometer is off stays the same. For example if your hygrometer reads 5% less humidity than actually exists it will most often always read the same 5% less no matter how high or low the humidity is. So, once you get a hygrometer it is advisable to test it to see how far off it is calibrated.


The Salt Test

The most common way to test a hygrometer is to do a salt test. Here’s how:

Get a small cap from a bottle (like the average water bottle or 2 liter of soda). Put ordinary table salt in the cap and add enough water to make it wet/slushy but not dissolve. Put the cap of salt and water and the hygrometer inside of an ordinary zip lock sandwich bag. Zip it up and leave it undisturbed for 6 hours. At the end of 6 hours your hygrometer should read exactly 75%. If not, calibrate the hygrometer according to the manufacturers’ instructions. If it cannot be calibrated remember how far of the hygrometer read and add or subtract that amount to your future readings.


Ideally, guitars like humidity
that consistently ranges from 45-55%.
As with temperature, guitars like consistent humidity—
not rapid changes.


Do not check the humidity level one time and think that everything is fine. Humidity changes daily, but a consistent humidity level is key to keeping your guitar in its best condition. So, glance at your hygrometer every day or so to determine if you need to humidify your guitar.

If you find that your guitar is experiencing low humidity levels either in its case or in the room where you store it, you will need to humidify.

The most popular guitar humidifier is the

Oasis Plus+ Humidifier

It also comes in a package with the Oasis Hygrometer:
Oasis Plus+ Humidifier Combo (OH5 + OH-2)

These humidifiers fit inside most guitar cases. You can buy less expensive in case humidifiers but sometimes the cheapest ones leak, which can cause water damage to your guitar. If you live in an extremely dry climate, you might need two humidifiers; one for the guitar case and one inside the soundhole of the guitar. Most often one humidifier in the case is enough if you do not let the humidifier dry out. Some humidifiers recommend using only distilled water, which reduces the amount of mineral deposits that can accumulate on the humidifier. If you have a lot of iron, sulphur, or calcium in your water you should probably use distilled water whether the manufacturer recommends it or not.

If you store your guitar on a stand in a room, you need to humidify the entire room. The best selling room humidifier on Amazon is the Honeywell Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier, HCM-350. Room humidifiers are available in any home improvement and most big box stores like Walmart. Almost all cool mist humidifiers require paper filters which usually run in the $10 – $15 range. It is important to change the filters as necessary to keep them clean.  Sediments from the water can build up and clog the filters, making them almost useless. Warm mist humidifiers often do not need filters but can be more prone to sediment buildup and mold issues. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, especially the inside, as you could potentially be shooting mold spores into the air from a moldy filter or water reservoir. Some room humidifiers have a built in hygrometer which allows the machine to pause or turn itself off when the humidity level is acceptable. Of course, this feature usually costs more.


There is one more way to humidify your guitar and some musicians swear by it. Others are terrified by the thought.


My thinking is that it is better than doing nothing. If you are too strapped for cash right now to buy a humidifier check out this low tech option: (Thank You Lawrence Jacobsen for posting this video on YouTube)


In the end, keeping your guitar at the correct humidity level is not something to put on your to-do list. It is something to be checked off on the already done list!

Don’t risk damaging your expensive guitar—if you haven’t already protected your guitar with correct humidity, do it right now!


The Christian Musicians Devotional – Use All Your Gifts

Christian Musicians Devotional CoverChristmas—the season of gift giving. All too often we end up almost completely focusing on the gifts, the list making, buying, wrapping, giving and then returning. We struggle to stay on budget and within the dollar amount each gift exchange sets as a limit. How do we manage the money and still give something that the recipient will love, or at least not return? We want to give memorable gifts that generate “ahhs” and “ohhs” when opened. So we work hard to find the perfect gift while not spending too much. It is a challenge.

In the process of gift buying and giving we frequently overlook the best gift of all—the gift of ourselves. We are more than only musicians. We are people who love and are loved by God. This Christmas season, let’s use everything we have and everything we are to share that love with the world around us.

Here is an excerpt from The Christian Musicians Devotional to get us thinking about the kinds of gifts we should be giving:


Use All Your Gifts

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

Romans 12:6-8

Christian musicians are often extremely gifted people. The gift of music stands out because people see it every time we play. Our musical talent is so prominent that many people cannot see beyond the one gift. So, we frequently get pigeon-holed into only doing music. But God has most often given us more than one gift, talent, or ability. It is not enough to use only the gift of music well to the detriment of developing our other gifts.

Picture a child opening his presents at a birthday party. There is always one toy that gets immediate attention. This toy is played with even before all the other gifts are unwrapped. The gift givers know that eventually all the gifts will be opened, but their gifts may be stored, unused in a toy box. Whenever a gift is given but not used, the gift giver experiences disappointment. Is that how we want to treat our ultimate gift giver, God?

God does not randomly give gifts. He chooses which gift to give each person carefully. When God gives gifts, it is for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. If we are not using all the gifts He has given us, the body is missing out. Be an excellent musician, but do not allow yourself to be defined only by your gift of music. Use all your other gifts just as excellently.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your gifts to me. Show me how to use all of them well to help grow Your kingdom.

Happy Thanksgiving

I Am Thankful for You

You have inspired us to pursue ministry with passion, to be more than we ever thought we would be, and to grow closer to Jesus.
Thank You!
Marie and Mark Wise


Thanksgiving Bad Music Jokes

Musicians are known for their ability to tell bad jokes.
Don’t disappoint your family this Thanksgiving!

Here’s a couple jokes the kids will love (or not).

Music Jokes for Thanksgiving
Did you laugh or groan?
Your Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without bad music jokes.

Christmas Gifts Christian Musicians Will Love


Gifts for Christian Musicians
Surprise your favorite Christian musician with a gift made for them!

Aghh… Christmas is just a few short weeks away! Are you ready? I’m not. I am still lamenting the loss of my flip flops for the winter, certainly not prepared for the Christmas holidays. I need to be compiling my Christmas gift list, so as always, I start on-line.

Here are some gift suggestions to add to your Christmas wish list and to use as a gift buying guide for your Christian musician friends.


These gifts are all available on Amazon. I have learned to combine my brick and mortar store shopping with online shopping to get the very best gifts. I love shopping from the comfort of my couch! 

Christians Musicians Devotional


Every musician needs a copy of
The Christian Musicians Devotional
to get the new year started right.


This book will encourage musicians to be extraordinary Christian music ministers. It will help them draw close to God and then love people closer to Jesus using their gift of music.

It is always nice to include an encouraging handwritten message and a gas card just inside the front cover to help your favorite musician get to the next gig.

Here are a few more gift ideas to make your Christmas shopping easy:

Under $10

STGP Forgiven Jewelry-Guitar with Etched “Sing Praise” Stainless Steel Necklace-Christian Jewelry

STGJ Forgiven Jewelry-Guitar with Etched “Jesus Cross” Necklace-Christian Jewelry

STG2 Forgiven Jewelry-Guitar Pick w/ Etched Cross Design-Christian Jewelry

Gold Cross & Clef Note Necklace

Christian Musician Guitar Christian Religion Vinyl Decal sticker 6″ White

Christian Music myPad Journal/Sketchbook

Pick Jesus, Vinyl Wall Art, Guitar, Musician, Decal, Worship

Bob Siemon Plated Pewter Music Note Pendant Necklace, 18″

Pick Jesus Guitar Christian Religion Vinyl Decal sticker 6″ White

P-174 Make a Joyful Noise Guitar Pick

$10 to $25

Christian T-shirt Glorify Thy Lord Through Music

Steven Harris Mens Amazing Grace Church Hymn Necktie – Blue – One Size Neck Tie

Stick With Jesus T-Shirt – Black

I Sing For Jesus Men’s Tee Shirt

Pray Before You Play Christian Drum Stick Adult T-Shirt

Christian Guitar T-Shirt Bass Your Life Design


i Pick Jesus Guitar Picks – Medium – 12 Pack – Celluloid – Assorted Colorful Set – Best Gifts for Guitarists, Worship Team, Christian Ministry, Jewelry Crafters, Pastors – Great Cool Presents for New Year, Birthdays, Baptism, New Christian – For Adults, Teens, Kids, Girls and Guys

Christian Drumsticks – Stick With Jesus – Natural

Music Keyboard Give Praise Band Stainless Steel Ring

This ring is stainless steel and says “Give praise to my God. Psalm 43:5″ inside.

Guitar Pick – Pick Jesus – Christian Necklace

Tree-Free Greetings sg24312 Guitar Pick Jesus: Romans 10:13 Sip ‘N Go Stainless Steel Lined Travel Tumbler, 16-Ounce

Scroll Crosses – Christian Guitar Strap

Pick Jesus – Guitar Pick Bracelet – Christian Bracelet

The Cross – Christian Guitar Strap

John 3:16 – Christian Guitar Strap

Fort Bryan LPC 2 1/2″ Christian Leather Guitar Strap

Christian T-Shirt More Than Music Guitar Lifestyle

Christian Drumsticks – Stick With Jesus – Black

Dogtag I Love Christian Music Dog tags necklace – Neonblond

Bead I Love Christian Music – Charm Fit All European Bracelets , Neonblond

$25 – $50

Silver Plated Musician’s Prayer Guitar Pick Necklace on 20″ Silver Plated Chain

Musicians Prayer Three Charm Silver Necklace

Stainless Steel Cross Necklace w/Treble Clef

Sterling Silver Sing for Joy Treble Pendant Necklace, 18″

Mens Guitar Pic Cross Necklace – Psalm 101:1 – 24″ Chain


I hope this helps simplify your Christmas gift shopping! Remember to take time to enjoy the Christmas season and all the people in your life who make it a special time.

Music Tournament 2015 – Play at Creation Fests

Music Tournament 2015Would you like the chance to perform your music live in front of this crowd? Enter Creation Fest’s Music Tournament today and your dreams could become a reality!

Entries must be submitted by MARCH 20th, 2015.

There is a $25 submission fee and then a $250 confirmation fee if you are selected to play. 15-20 acts will be chosen. Time slots are 15 minutes on the Indie stage. The winner from the Indie stage is declared the Festival winner.

The Festival winner gets to play one song on the Main stage and compete against the winners from 4 other fests. The Grand Prize winner will play 4 festivals in 2016.

Here’s the links for the rules and deadlines:

Creation East:

Creation West:

In Front of Jesus – Excerpt from The Christian Musicians Devotional

Christian Musicians Devotional Cover

Creativity is necessary to be an effective Christian music minister. We use our creative gifts in almost every aspect of our ministry including songwriting, stage presentation, merchandise design and our marketing on line. But we often tend to default to what we know has worked in the past for other people rather than putting in the work to use our creative gifts. Using our creativity opens us up, leaves us vulnerable, to failure and other peoples judgement. We have been taught that playing it safe and repeating what worked in the past  is a good model for business, and maybe it is. The sure thing, efficient time management, low risk, and a good return on your investment cannot be dismissed. But repeating what has already been done is not always a good model for art or relationships. Artists are the risk takers, the ones who always lose track of time, the mess makers and the innovators. Our western culture often leads us to believe those are not good characteristics. But I do not think Jesus agrees with our western culture.

Check out this excerpt from The Christian Musicians Devotional


In Front of Jesus

“They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.”

Mark 2:4

What would you do to get closer to Jesus? What would you do to bring someone else closer to Jesus? The men in this story had to get creative in order to get their friend right in front of Jesus. They had to think about things in a way that they had not previously considered. They were willing to do the unusual, the unexpected. If they had told people ahead of time that they were going to cut a hole in the roof, they would have been laughed at. People who noticed what they were doing were probably concerned about the mess. After all that creative thinking and work, they were not 100% sure their idea would work. But they tried it anyway and got results!

The entire process sounds quite a bit like what Christian music ministers go through to do their ministry. We take chances, because using art to bring people closer to Jesus is risky. Our ideas and our expression of those ideas leave us vulnerable to ridicule and failure. It takes courage to do something different, to cut a hole in the roof or to share Jesus through a new song. Notice that Jesus did not condemn these men for trying something new or for making a mess. In fact, verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’” The man was healed immediately, right on the spot and his sins were forgiven because of their great faith! God honors the courage to act on our faith in whatever form it takes. So, go ahead, be courageous and express your faith using every bit of creativity you have!

Prayer: Father, thank You for inspiring my creativity. Give me the courage to use my gifts in new and unusual ways.

Creative Commons LicensesSongwriting and recording copyrights perplex even the most knowledgeable of us and the laws are consistently becoming more complex as music goes digital. We want to be paid for our work. We certainly do not want to be stolen from or taken advantage of by the industry. We want to get our music out there for people to hear and enjoy. But paying to register our songs and then not getting paid for their use does not seem right either. For many artists and many songs the typical way of handling copyrights simply does not make cents or sense.


In previous posts we have learned quite a bit about copyrights. You may want to review this information to better understand how copyrights typically work.

Copyright or Copywrite

Who owns the copyrights to your bands songs? 

The Poor Man’s Copyright

Copyright Notice

Registering Song Copyrights

Performance Rights Organizations: Working with the PRO’s


After gaining an understanding about what copyrights are and how they work, most of us have come to the conclusion that we will not be paid royalties for most of the songs we write. Not being paid does not mean the songs are not good or that they do not have incredible ministry potential. It simply means that they will not make the charts and get enough mainstream radio airplay to generate a paycheck. This begs the question, “Why should we pay to register our songs with the copyright office?It does not make cents.


When we learned about the economics of free in the post Should my band give away free music downloads?  many of us agreed that it would be better to give at least some of our songs away. So, why would we restrict access to the songs by reserving all our rights to the songs? It does not make sense.


Is there another way we can handle copyrights?

Yes. It is called a Creative Commons License.



Creative Commons Licenses are a way that we can give certain, specific rights to people while keeping other rights for ourselves. These licenses let our work (in our case, songs) circulate freely and legally while maintaining our copyrights. In other words, downloading and file sharing becomes legal when you license your songs under a Creative Commons license, but you retain ownership of the song and specify how it can or cannot be used.


Some Background Information on Creative Commons

The Mission Statement Creative Commons has posted on their website is:

“Creative Commons helps you share your knowledge and creativity with the world.

Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.”

Some companies who use Creative Commons are: Google, Wikipedia, Flickr,, even YouTube has a Creative Commons video library. The most notable musician who has used this license is Nine Inch Nails with the releases Ghosts I-IV and Slip.

Creative Commons is not exclusive to the United States; it is a global organization with courts worldwide upholding the licenses.


About the Licenses

Creative Commons Licenses are free to use, but this does not mean that your work must be free. Some of the licenses allow you to sell your work while others stipulate that your work must be shared freely—you get to choose which is best for each one of your projects.

Creative Commons Licenses are for any works that are covered by copyright laws—not just songwriting and recording (although that is what we are focusing on here).

There is no registration (or registration fee) to use the Creative Commons licenses.

You can choose a different license (including the typical “all rights reserved” license) for each project.

To license a work simply choose which of the six licenses is best suited for your project using their license chooser, and then place the copyright notice for that license on your project. This copyright notice tells others that you have chosen to release the project under the terms of that particular license.


There are six main options for Creative Commons licenses:

Attribution—The word attribution in this usage means giving credit to you for your original work. Usually attribution is in the form of a link to your website or profile for online work or your name and where people can find you for offline work. The attribution license allows other people to modify your work as long as they give you credit. This license is the most lenient of the six and should be used whenever you want to maximize the distribution of the work.

Attribution-NoDerivs—NoDerivs stands for ‘no derivatives’. This means that your work must remain unchanged and whole. So, this license is used when you want people to give you credit for your work (Attribution) and leave the work exactly as you created it (NoDerivs).

Attribution-ShareAlike—ShareAlike means that anyone who remixes, tweaks, or builds upon your work must license their new creations under the identical terms your initial creation used. So under this license other people can change your work as long as they give you credit (Attribution) and also use the same ShareAlike license as you did in the initial work.

Attribution-NonCommercial—A commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation. In other words, a commercial use generally has the intent to make money while a non-commercial use does not. This license gets a little tricky because ‘the use’ is not based on who is using it but on the intent of the user to make money or not from your work. A non-profit organization (like a Church) does not automatically qualify as non-commercial simply because their overall group is not focused on making money. Most fundraising campaigns, for example, are considered to have the intent of making money. This license allows people to use your work as long as they give you credit (Attribution) and use it in a way that is not intended to make money (NonCommercial).

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs—This license means that people must give you credit (Attribution), use the work in a way that is not intended to make money (NonCommercial), and your work must remain unchanged and whole (NoDerivs).

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike—Under this license people must give you credit for your work (Attribution), use the work in a way that is not intended to make money (NonCommercial), and must license any remixes, tweaks, or work that is built upon your work under the identical terms your initial creation used (ShareAlike).


There are many ways each of these licenses could be used. Here are some of the more common ways that Christian music ministers might want to use them:


Attribution—This is least restrictive of the licenses offered by Creative Commons. It allows anyone to share or change our work as long as they credit us. But since commercial uses are not restricted we should not use it on anything that we do not want someone else to sell. We should to use it when we want to reach most people possible. Memes would be good works to license this way because you want everyone to share them (and draw some attention to your band as the creators), you do not care if they change them, and they are generally not used to make money.

AttributionNoDerivs—This is the license to use when you want to make sure your work does not get changed but you still want everyone to share it. Candid photographs of your band might be licensed well here. You do not want to give people permission to change (photoshop) your band or your surroundings, you want everyone to share your photos, but no one will try to make money selling them.

AttributionShareAlike—This license lets other people change and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Wikipedia uses this license, so if your band has a Wikipedia page it will be used there.

AttributionNonCommercial—Use this license when it is OK for other people to change your work but not to use with the intent to make money from it. Some songwriters have released music under this license so that fans share it and can use it on videos and in remixes. Here is a case study for Jonathan Colton (a singer/songwriter who uses this license): CLICK HERE   and another case study from Christopher Willits: CLICK HERE

AttributionNonCommercialNoDerivs—Many of us will use this license for songs that we do not want changed or sold by someone else. This is the license to use when you want to give free downloads to your fans but you do not want to give them permission to sell or remix them. Here is a case study for a musician who uses this license, Monk Turner: CLICK HERE

AttributionNonCommercialShareAlike— This is the license I used for The Christian Music Festival Survival Guide because I did not want anyone to be able to sell it, but I also want bands and fests to be able to add their information to the guide. Anyone who creates a new guide based on mine will have to also share it without the intent of making money. This license allows fans to receive free information, bands and fests to add information, and gives me credit for the work. Hopefully this form of license will result in more people checking out this website. Here are case studies of bands who use this license: Ancient Free Gardeners: CLICK HERE   Pig Head Skin: CLICK HERE   Topolgy: CLICK HERE


Do Creative Commons Licenses make sense and cents for your Christian band?

Probably, most of the time, Yes.

Especially in this digital age of music.


Creative Commons Licenses are certainly well suited to music ministry. But, I have a feeling that these licenses may be the future for all indie musicians.

This post has been a brief overview to get you started thinking about the best ways to share and protect your songs. Remember that you can choose a different license for each song. So, you may want to consider trying a Creative Commons license for one song and see if you like it. At the very least, take some time to explore the Creative Commons website and learn about one of the most exciting options the digital age of music has made available to us.

The Christian Music Festival Survival Guide is Ready!

Christian Fest Survival Guide CoverThe Christian Music Festival Survival Guide
is a FREE gift
to give to your fans.

The PDF file is ready for you to download and then give away. Upload it to your bands website as a free gift to your fans!

Use it to encourage fans to support live music. Give it away as a FREE gift when fans buy tickets from you for a fest. Pass it on as a freebie in your bands newsletter. Keep your social media interesting by including the link for this FREE gift. Add value to your merchandise by giving a printed copy with each t-shirt or CD you sell at the merch table. Give the Christian Music Festival Guide as a Christmas or birthday gift to your fans from the band.

If you can think of ways to use this guide you have permission to do it—there are no rules!

CLICK HERE to get your FREE guide today.

A printer friendly version will be ready soon—we’re working on it now.

Performance Rights OrganizationsPerformance Rights Organizations are known as PRO’s, which is pronounced by saying each individual letter P.R.O.—like NPR for National Public Radio. Confusion can sometimes set in because ‘pro’ is the short term for professional. PRO’s do not necessarily mean pro (professional). This is important to know not only to sound professional when you are talking about PRO’s but also to understand that being a part of a PRO or not being in a PRO does not make you more or less of professional musician. That being said, most professional musicians are involved with a PRO.

What is a Performance Rights Organization?

PRO’s are best known for collecting and paying out performance royalties. Performance Royalties are not the fee you get paid to perform at a gig, those are called performance fees. Performance Royalties are the money paid to songwriter’s and publishers when their song is performed publically or broadcast. PRO’s issue licenses and collect the royalties from assorted music venues and fests, businesses like retail stores or gyms, and radio stations. They pay copyright owners (usually the songwriter and publishers) theoretically for the number of times each one of their songs was played (after they take their small percentage of course). This one service is why most professional musicians join a PRO—they want to be paid songwriting royalties.

These days PRO’s offer more than simply collecting and keeping track of royalties and then paying them out. By joining a PRO songwriters are also entitled to discounts on everything from insurance to website tools. Some artists consider the education and advice from peers online and at conventions and seminars to be some of the more valuable benefits of joining a PRO.

PRO’s also get involved in the political and legal arguments that involve music and copyright laws.

There are Two Main PRO’s for musicians in the United States:

ASCAP stands for The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers and is said like the words as and cap together, not each letter like NPR.
BMI stands for Broadcast Music Inc. and is pronounced using each letter—like NPR.

Note that you can only be part of one PRO at a time, but you can switch after the agreement with your current PRO ends.


Essentially both organizations do the same thing:
collect and pay royalties to songwriters and publishers;
but there are some noteworthy differences
between the two organizations.


They have very different business structures. ASCAP was formed by writers and publishers while BMI was formed by the broadcasting industry. ASCAP is an unincorporated membership association. This means that it is controlled by its members: composers, songwriters and publishers. The members elect a Board of Directors from within their own members and hold general meetings regularly. BMI is a corporation owned by Broadcast professionals and the artists have no input into running the organization. BMI says they are a not-profit making corporation, which is very different from the church or community service non-profit corporations that we are used to seeing in the Christian culture. Some people feel that ASCAP’s structure is better because the artists are more aware of what they need and want, and are free to run their organization as they see fit. Other people feel BMI’s structure is better because most artists are not adept at business and law, so it is good to let business people do what they do best. Then, the ASCAP supporters respond by saying that the business people in charge of BMI are the music customers—primarily the radio and television execs who should be paying the royalties…and the debate continues. In the end it is really a matter of personal preference.

Another primary difference between the two organizations is the way they collect data and the formulas they use to pay out royalties. Some songwriters have co-written a song with one writer belonging to ASCAP and the other to BMI. Ideally, the royalties paid should be the same, but usually are not. This is due to how each company collects its data and applies its formula for tracking how many times the songs were played. Many songwriters report that often the same song will generate more royalties with one or the other PRO one month only to reverse positions another month.

Royalties for Your Band?

Which way of collecting data and applying formulas is better is a moot point for most Christian music ministers because both BMI and ASCAP primarily use radio airplay sampling or tracking as the basis for the majority of their calculations. So, unless your song is getting a fair amount of airplay on the stations they are sampling or tracking (most often, bigger national stations), you probably are not going to make enough of a blip on their stats to generate a paycheck. The notion that you get paid for each time your song is played is not exactly true. Neither PRO can possibly track every time your song is broadcast or performed in public. A more accurate description how payouts are made would be to say that all the money collected is put into one pot and you get paid a percentage of the pot primarily based on the percentage of radio and television airplay your song receives from the stations the PRO use to collect their data. Most of us do not have songs in the regular rotation of national radio stations, so we would not generate any royalties, regardless of how the data is collected or calculated. So, joining a PRO believing we will receive performance royalties is not a realistic expectation for most Christian musicians.

Royalties from Your Own Bands Live Performances:

Both BMI and ASCAP have a program to pay performers for their live stage performances of their own songs. ASCAP’s program is called OnStage and BMI’s is called BMI Live. Both programs operate essentially the same way. You register each song that you intend perform with the PRO once they are written and you have determined who owns the song. After each gig you log on to the PRO’s website and give them your set list. Once each quarter you receive a check for the live performances of your songs. Sounds simple—put in a little time on the computer and get some free money! Not so much, there are two main problems with doing this:

● The royalties are based on the license fees for each venue. On their websites OnStage FAQ’s ASCAP states “The royalty generated by a live performance is based upon the license fee paid by the venue. As venues with larger capacities pay a larger license fee to ASCAP, the royalty generated by these venues will be larger than venues with smaller capacities.” How many of us actually play enough large venues to generate a paycheck from royalties?

● The royalties are based on the license fees for each venue. You are not seeing double—this is a repeat of the first problem. The second problem is not that the venues most of us play are not large enough; it is that many of the venues we play do not have a license at all. Some are exempt from needing a license (the exceptions are listed below); others are simply to small and poor to pay for one. If you enter information for a live show event into either PRO’s website an agent will be assigned to collect fees from the venues address which you entered if they do not have a license already. The costs of these fees in addition to purchasing a license from each PRO every year have shut down many venues, resulting in even fewer places for you to play. Should the venues have a license? Legally—absolutely yes. But the reality is that most small venues (the kind most of us play all the time) don’t have a license and cannot afford one as they often cost thousands of dollars a year for each PRO.

There are some types of organizations that are exempt from needing ASCAP licenses:

● religious organizations (during worship only)
● non-profit educational institutions (most Christian schools fall into this exemption)
● record stores and other establishments where the primary purpose of playing the music is to sell it (this does not apply to retail stores selling other product because the music is viewed as customer entertainment)
● government bodies (state and federal)
● state fairs and agricultural events
● certain veterans and fraternal organizations during charitable social functions
● various “non-commercial” and charitable performances that have no admission charge, commercial intent or paid performers
● movie houses

Songwriters do not get paid royalties from their songs being performed at these places because they are exempt from licenses.

So, ask yourself, “Does my band play enough large venues each year that are not exempt from needing a license to justify the time it takes to enter my songs and set lists into the PRO’s data base?” and “Are we willing to alert the PRO’s to a venue which may potentially close due to lack of licenses and fines?” There is no one cookie cutter correct answer for every ministry.


Generally, only the top tier Christian songwriters
will receive performance royalties from a PRO.


Benefits from Working with a PRO: Discounts on Services

Both ASCAP and BMI have negotiated group discounts on some services for their members. These discounts may be worth joining a PRO for you. Look into them and compare before deciding if you want to join a PRO or choosing which PRO to join. Remember that these are not freebies—they are discounts from the full retail price usually in the 10 – 20% Off range. A few things have a free trial period and then a discount. Some of these same discounts can be obtained in other ways such as joining AAA or other organizations.

ASCAP Benefits
Discounts on:

● Associations (The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, National Academy of Popular Music)
● Car Rental (Avis, Hertz, North American Van Lines)
● Financial (ASCAP Member Investment Services, US Alliance Federal Credit Union)
● Gear (
● Healthcare and Insurance (Sterling Healthworks, MusicPro Insurance for instruments and studio and events liability coverage, Corehealth Insurance, Prescription Drug Discount Card, Careington Health Discount Card, Aflac Supplemental Insurance, Dental Insurance, Life Insurance & Long Term Care, Liberty Mutual Auto, Home, and Renters Insurance)
● Hotels (Choice Hotels International)
● Manufacturing (Disc Makers, Dupecoop, Valle Music Reproduction)
● Music Magazines (American Songwriter Magazine, Music Dispatch, Geniuses of the American Musical Theater plus over 20 more major music magazines and industry resource guides)
● OnLine Education (Berklee Online,
● Software (EastWest Sound Libraries, Jeff Rona’s Liquid Cinema, MasterWriter, Secret Composer)
● Web Tools (Bandzoozle, Broadjam, Fanbridge, recordXpress, Nimbit, Section 101)

For more specific information about ASCAP’s discounts CLICK HERE.

BMI Benefits
Discounts On:

● Associations (Songwriter’s Hall of Fame)
● Booking (Musicians Atlas)
● Financial (City National Bank, Direct Deposit of Royalties, The Card)
● Gear (Blue Microphones, Dell, JBL Harmon/Kardon, MasterWriter, Oasis, Sweetwater)
● Healthcare and Insurance (Preferred Insurance Benefits, MusicPro Insurance for instruments and studio and events liability coverage)
● Marketing (muzlink, ArtsistShare for Songwriter’s)
● Manufacturing (Disc Makers)
● Music Magazines (Billboard, Los Angeles Times)
● OnLine Education (Berklee Music, Digital Music Doctor, UCLA Extension)
● Recording (PMP Production Marketplace)
● Shipping (Fed-Ex)
● Software (MyWerx)
● Web Tools (Fanbridge)

For more specific information about BMI’s discounts CLICK HERE.

One more benefit that PRO’s offer is conferences and seminars. If you love to network while getting the latest industry information, these events are made for you! Typically, ASCAP hosts more of their own events while BMI offers discounts to other national events.

Both PRO’s also offer online career advice in the form of articles. CLICK HERE for BMI’s information. CLICK HERE for ASCAP’s information. Notice that you do not have to be a member of either PRO to have access to this information.

How much does it cost to join?

● ASCAP charges a one time $50 fee for either writers or publishers ($100 for both). Members’ contracts are for one year.
● BMI is free for songwriter’s and $250 for publishers. Writer’s sign a contract for 2 years, publishers sign for 5 years.

So, after all is said and done, is it worth it to join a PRO?

For most of us the answer will be “Probably not” because we do not have songs that are making the charts or getting national radio or television airplay. It does take a little time to join (and maybe a little money). It takes more time to register each song and then more time to enter your set list after each gig. For most of us, all this time spent will net us no cash until we are either a national act ourselves or are selling our songs to them. Some of us might benefit from some of the discounts offered, but many of us will be able to find comparable discounts on the services we need elsewhere. We will each have to assess our own needs and do the research to see if joining a PRO makes sense and cents for our ministry.

PRO's do NOT Validate Ministry


CLICK HERE for a little more information I found while working on this article. This is a more complicated read, but worth the effort if you are interested in the more controversial aspects of PRO’s.

Generous Art – An Excerpt from The Christian Musicians Devotional

I hope this inspires you to give yourself away completely as you go out and minister this weekend…

Generous Art

“The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25

Christian music ministers are frequently frustrated when hearing sermons or reading verses about being blessed when we give. Many of us do not have extra money to give because we spend it on our ministry. Some of us feel guilty when we do not give, and we do not expect to be blessed because of our lack of giving. How are we supposed to be generous and refresh others when we have no money to give? We give ourselves in the form of our art, our music.

We have all seen musicians who play every note correctly but do not give anything to their audience. We leave feeling uninspired if not bored. Then there are other musicians who, while they may not play as difficult pieces or play as technically correct, leave us feeling that we have connected with God. These musicians are completely engaged with us, with the music, and with worshipping God. They risk showing us a part of themselves through their music. They are truly doing art. Their art refreshes our spirits. This is how we can give and give generously: we can pour ourselves into our music and the worship of our God so much that other people cannot help but be refreshed. This kind of giving is more than throwing a few extra coins into the offering; it requires us to risk giving everything we have, all of our heart and all of our being, through music to refresh others. It requires experiencing our relationship with God in front of and with the audience. We are not giving from our excess, but risking ourselves in giving sacrificially. God loves this kind of a generous giver. He blesses our generous giving because it is more than just money—it is our hearts.

Prayer: Father, give me the courage to be a very generous giver.

Christian Musicians Devotional Cover



This is an excerpt from The Christian Musicians Devotional.

CLICK HERE to get your copy today!


FREE Guides from Disc Makers: Home Studio Series

Disc Makers has 5 FREE PDF Guides to help you set up a home studio and get a high quality recording of your band.



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