Learn fast, simple, and powerful mixing techniques to create dynamic mixes in less time than ever before with this FREE Kindle Book.
Learn fast, simple, and powerful mixing techniques to create dynamic mixes in less time than ever before with this FREE Kindle Book.
This FREE Kindle book contains sheet music for 424 Classic Christmas Carols.
5 Star Reviews have put these 2 music books into Best Seller Categories. Get your copy of The Circle of Fifths and 7 Easy Steps to Read Music today while they are FREE!
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.
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!
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:
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
This ring is stainless steel and says “Give praise to my God. Psalm 43:5″ inside.
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.
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: http://www.showclix.com/event/CNEMusicTournament2015
Disc Makers and CD Baby have teamed up to bring you the gift of guitars. Up for grabs are two guitars, one electric and one acoustic, a wireless system, killer cases for both guitars, and a CD production and digital distribution package.
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.
“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.”
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.
Songwriting 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.
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.
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.
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, Wired.com, 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.
• 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.
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).
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
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 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.
Entry fees start at $34.98 and go up to $199.98 depending on when you enter and if you want critiques and online showcases. Early entry deadline is October 15, 2014. All entry deadline is December 17, 2014.
Performance 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.
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.
● 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
● 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 (Instrumentpro.com)
● 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, SongU.com)
● 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.
● 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.
● 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.
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.
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.
I hope this inspires you to give yourself away completely as you go out and minister this weekend…
“The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
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.
This is an excerpt from The Christian Musicians Devotional.
CLICK HERE to get your copy today!
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Purchasing sound equipment is an expensive business investment. Occasionally a band will make enough profit from gigs to buy some equipment, but most bands are finding it difficult just to break even these days. So, unfortunately, one of the first places many bands look to get money to buy equipment is from the band members. Christian bands often ask, expect, or even require band members to tithe to their band ministry. We spiritualize it in a variety of ways, with all kinds of reasons and rationalizations. But in the end, what matters is:
Of course, it would be presumptuous of me to give a definitive answer to that question, since I am not God. But we can examine the possible answers in light of what we already know about God and His ways of looking at and doing things.
Within our band there is bound to be varying beliefs about money and giving. Not every Christian believes in tithing or even giving a percentage of our income to God. We all do not agree on where the gifts should be given. What we do all agree on is giving to benefit the kingdom, regardless of what we call the gift. Most Christian band members also agree that their band is a ministry unto the Lord and is a benefit to the kingdom. If we did not believe this we would simply be in a band, not a Christian music ministry. So, we do generally agree that giving to our band is good and acceptable in Gods eyes.
But, in our humanness we tend to make a mess of things from there…
The problems seem to be fourfold:
• Who determines how much money we are required to give?
• Who decides where we give?
• Who determines how to spend the money after it is given?
• Who owns whatever the money bought?
Let’s look at each of the four problems separately.
Who determines how much money we are required to give?
All of us believe in giving, but we do not all share the same beliefs about how much is appropriate for us to give. Even our churches do not all agree on what the Bible says we should do. So, why should we as a band try to dictate doctrine for our band members? In every area, our Christian walk is based on starting where we are right now and moving forward to become more like Jesus each day. So, wouldn’t it be better for each of us to give according to what we feel is right in our own hearts and then encourage each other to stretch and grow in our giving as we grow in our faith walk? Some of us give 25%, some 10%, some only 5%. Still others do not give a percentage but do give a set amount from each paycheck. Some of us give only when we can, after the bills are paid. Many of us do not give money because we cannot afford it but we give what we can by going out of our way to help and encourage other people. The important thing is that we are giving and then that we are growing toward being more Christ-like in our giving.
When the band as a whole decides that it is mandatory for all members to tithe to the band we are taking a first step in attempting to control the lives and faith walk of our brothers in ministry. This is never a good idea. Control over each of our lives belongs to our Lord as led by His Holy Spirit. When the band starts mandating doctrine it will not take long until someone is offended and soon after the band will probably be looking for a new band member. So, the best option for bands to handle giving from band members is to make a way for the band members who want to donate to do so, without expecting, requiring, or pressuring gifts from any one. We simply need to encourage each other to grow in every area of our faith walk, including giving.
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give.
And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.
‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.'”
2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
Who decides where we give?
Some people think all gifts should be given to the local church who then distributes the money as they see fit. Others believe in giving however they feel God leading including: missionaries, nonprofit organizations, or individual people. Some churches teach that all tithe money should be only given to the local church in which we attend. This is usually based on Malachi 3 which talks about bringing all the tithe into the storehouse. The church leadership believes that their church is Gods storehouse for their community. Other people disagree with the church being Gods storehouse based either on the storehouse being and Old Testament principle which we no longer follow or on their determination that the church has abdicated its position as a storehouse because the church does not allocate funds in the way that God originally set up storehouses. Still other people believe that the tithe goes to the local church and offerings (over and above the tithe) go other ministries. Even people who attend the same church hold varying beliefs. Obviously, not every Christian agrees on giving exclusively to their local church, but this disagreement does not necessarily make any of us wrong or more spiritual than the rest. We must each be convinced in our own hearts that we are doing what God wants us to do.
The varying beliefs are confusing. But does the variety of beliefs in where we should give mean that your band should determine where each band member gives? Probably not. Once again, when the band as a whole tries to dictate doctrine to each member by requiring them to give to the band we are attempting to usurp control over each other. Now of course we are not talking about confronting each other with sin issues here, dealing with sin is requires a different level of accountability. What we are talking about is allowing each other the freedom to grow in our individual faith walks at the same time as we are trusting in God to provide for our ministry. We are talking about loving each other through our growing processes. We are free to love like this because we are confident that God loves us and has provided what we need for our ministry.
“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.
In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources
and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”
2 Corinthians 9:10 NLT
Who determines how to spend the money after it is given?
When a band member decides to spend their personal money to purchase equipment and then retain ownership of the equipment while allowing the band to use that equipment, that band member gets to decide everything about the equipment. While that band member may ask the band for advice, the final decisions about which equipment to purchase, how much to spend, when to buy it, where to make the purchase, and how to pay for it all belong to the band member. The owner of the equipment even gets to decide if there will be times, places, or events for which the equipment will not be allowed to be used. The only thing the band has to decide is if they will accept the gift of the use of the equipment whenever the owner of the equipment allows it to be used. The downside is that this situation can set the band up to be controlled by one person. The person who owns the equipment has the potential to attempt to control band decisions by withholding the use of the equipment whenever they do not agree with a decision or by threatening to leave the band completely (taking all of their equipment with them) when band decisions are not made with their full support. Loaning the band equipment but not controlling the band with the loan requires the person who owns the equipment to be especially strong in the area of submitting to one another in love. Remember that submission does not begin until there is disagreement. Can you let the band use your equipment even when you do not agree with the band decisions? Can you do it without an attitude? Can you trust God to work through the band with your possessions? Can you trust God to redeem the situation even if the band is making a poor decision? These are the challenges of owning equipment and submitting your possessions to Gods control.
When money is donated to the band, no matter who donates it, who gets to decide how to spend it is determined by the band partnership agreement. In an equal partnership each band member has an equal say in that decision. So, even if one member donates money to the band, the entire band decides how to spend it. When equipment is donated to the band it is treated like any other band asset (including money), the entire band decides how to use it, including selling or donating it. Can you donate money or equipment to the band and then relinquish control of that money to the band? Can you allow the band to make a decision you do not agree with when they are spending the money you donated? Can you trust God to work through the band with your money? Can you trust God to redeem the situation even if the band is making a poor decision? These are the challenges of donating money to the band and submitting your money to Gods control.
Who owns whatever the money bought?
When tithes, gifts, and offerings are given to the Lord by donations to the band and are used to purchase assets for the band, those assets legally belong to the band and spiritually the band (including all its assets) belongs Lord.
Who legally owns band assets is determined by the business structure of your band. Most bands are an equal partnership, which means that each member owns an equal share of the band assets (part of which is band equipment). The way equipment is divided in the case of one band member leaving or the band breaking up is determined by your bands partnership agreement. In most equal partnerships, if the band breaks up equipment is sold to pay off all remaining band debts and then whatever is left is divided equally among band members. Usually, if one band member leaves the band that member is paid for their share of the bands assets either in cash or an equal value of equipment after their equal share of current band debts have been paid. So, for example, if your band has 4 members in an equal partnership and you donated 100% of the money to purchase equipment for the band only 1/4 of the current market value of the equipment minus 1/4 of the bands debts actually belongs to you. Legally, it does not matter who donated the money to buy the equipment unless your partnership agreement states otherwise.
Most of the problems that occur when band members donate money to the ministry, especially when purchasing equipment, stem from our desire to be in control. We want to give a gift, but we want to retain control of the gift and how it is used. Often, we expect the gift to be returned to us when it is no longer being used or to be repaid if it is damaged or stolen. Is this what God had in mind when He asked us to give? Probably not, since part of the reason He asks us to give is to grow our trust in Gods control of our lives.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning and buying equipment. We simply need to state clearly if we are donating it to the band or allowing the band to use our stuff. If you choose to let the band use your equipment do not call the dollar value of the equipment a gift or offering or tithe. Your tithing or financial giving would need to be done in addition to purchasing your personal equipment. Your gift is allowing the band to use your stuff, just the same as if a band member allowed the band to drive their vehicle to get to a gig. The band member with the vehicle does not claim the vehicle purchase as a tithe or donation and gives tithes, gifts, or offerings in addition to making their monthly vehicle payments. Both the owner of the equipment and the owner of the vehicle are free to use their possessions in any way you see fit in addition to loaning them to the band. Neither the equipment nor the vehicle belongs to the band, cannot be used as a band income tax deduction, and stays with the band member who purchased it in the event of a band break up or the member leaving the band. Retaining ownership of equipment by purchasing the equipment and then allowing the band to use it is not more or less spiritual than donating money to buy equipment. Both ways supply equipment to the band. Both ways require us to trust in God (and our band mates) to use the equipment wisely. But retaining ownership of the equipment while claiming it as a donation, especially on your taxes, is illegal. Attempting to control the band through money and equipment is unGodly.
Spiritually, your Christian music ministry belongs to the Lord. Although it is not legally required, unless you are a nonprofit corporation, you do not own your bands assets. Your ministries assets, including equipment, belong to the Lord. Therefore, if the band used donated money to buy band equipment and the band no longer does the work of the ministry, you should ask God if what should be done with the equipment. Should it either be donated to another ministry or sold and the money donated to another ministry? Is it right in Gods eyes that you should keep a share of what has been donated to Gods ministry? Perhaps God does want to return the equipment to the person who donated it or the money to buy it. We cannot automatically apply one cookie cutter answer to this situation. Again, this is not a legal requirement. Legally each band member (in an equal partnership) gets to keep an equal share of the bands assets after all debts have been paid. The most important thing is to be convinced in your own heart, to prayerfully work out our decisions with the whole band, and then be obedient to whatever God wants you to do with the equipment.
Donating equipment or money to buy equipment for our bands ministry is not wrong. It is actually not about the money or the assets—it is about our attitude, obedience and trust in God. Before we give, we must ask ourselves “Are we giving out of humble obedience to Gods plan for our ministry or are we giving in an attempt to provide for our ministry ourselves?” In other words, “Who are we trusting in to provide for our ministry—God or our own resources?”