the baby and the bathwater

Self Promotion
November 21, 2009, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My friend and co-worship leader Dave Gate has written an interesting article on self-promotion. You can read it here.

But rather than clutter up his blog – yet again – with my rants, here is my response.

Kingdom life works on the twin foundations of faith and action. We give ourselves to prayer and worship and spiritual disciplines, and we give ourselves to applying our intellect, physical and emotional strengths to working out God’s call on our lives: loving God with all our hearts, souls, mind and strength.

I am struck by some charity organisations who champion the needs to the poor or marginalised. They will put effort into political aspects, practical aspects, operational aspects of their organisation to raise money, activate projects and initiate change. And in all of these, their accounts are closely audited and published and they are accountable to boards of directors, and they don’t ever make profit. Churches tend to operate in a similar fashion. OK, so some churches and leaders screw up badly, but essentially, no one intends to get really rich. Any marketing, advertising or promotion essentially only benefits the people the organisation is set up to help.

Worship leaders, especially those who’s main governance comes from a record company, is in a very different place. Success in album sales and the number of people singing their songs has a direct financial impact – both the record company and the worship leader benefit. So the legitimate reason for promoting songs – that people and churches will be blessed by them – is indistinguishable from the commercial impact – making more money – at least from those looking in from the outside.

So a worship leader – if they so wished to do so – can pursue financial gain from worship whilst hiding behind an intention to bless the church. A cynical view maybe, but it’s easily done, or perceived to be done.

Let’s be honest about the amounts potentially involved too. CCLI say that they have some 236,000 licenses worldwide. If the average license was for £250 (my guess…don’t know if it is accurate), then the total royalty income they administer is £60m.

Every year.

That doesn’t include royalties earned from cd sales.

I am not a major player in all of this. But I am the worship leader from one of the UK’s largest churches, and I have some national profile, and I have written a few songs that are sung around the place. But my share of this is under 0.000025%. So my conclusion is that some of the big international players must be getting a huge chunk of the £60m.

Every year.

And some songs can remain at the top of the CCLI charts for many, many years. Far longer than any legitimate claim from the songwriter that they are getting money ‘in return for the time they spent writing the song’. Not sure that ‘a fair wage for a fair days work’ stands up eventually.

So whilst so much money is on offer, and whilst there is a confusion of legitimate aims and purely financial ones, there will always be a black cloud hanging over any worship promotion – self or otherwise.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

…so that’s a ‘Bad’ then.

Comment by gatesy

you spotted the subtle nuances in my post then…

Comment by neilbennetts

ahhh diddums

Comment by Keith Hitchman

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