“It Will Be Good Exposure”

Southern Gospel groups are often asked to do events at their own expense. Of course, this isn’t limited to Southern Gospel; here’s how one author of a secular marketing blog handles such inquiries:

How often are you asked to speak or write an article for free? The challenge is always in figuring out if the value of the activity is worth it. If the promise is that it will lead to more work, I usually just go with this answer: ‘I’m a very ethical person, so let’s agree to pay me my full fee and if any client work comes out of this, I am happy to return my fee.’ This usually sends the people trying to benefit from a freebie away and it works equally well for those with a genuine offer. In the end, the hard part is figuring out what is good self-promotion, what is good business, and when you’re being taken advantage of.

The full article is here. (Caution: Since it’s a secular marketing blog, not all content on the site is to be recommended.)

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18 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I think the first thing to consider is that SG groups have a different level of conduct expected of them since they are singing gospel music. That’s not a bad thing, but singing is also their livelihood. So if a group says they will not sing for free they shouldn’t be looked down upon, in my opinion.

    • Also, I believe that there are groups who receive more invitations to sing for free than there are dates in the year. This means that, even if they were to sing 365 days a year and never see their families, they would have to say no to some people. And, of course, since they need to pay the bills and need to spend some time with their families, many groups only have a very limited number of openings that they could possibly schedule!

      • I would tend to think that a majority of SG artists do more in this area than what is on the public radar screen.

        Some might ask why we do not hear more about the various services of love.
        Just asking the previous question is the reason why we do not hear about all the good works.

        Many times, an artist or owner of a group would cringed when a local organizer would express his or her appreciation on the platform for the service of love here tonight.

        Everybody from the yard/tag sales to national events would want their favorite artist to do the same for their favorite “important to them” work of love.

        I like the last sentence written by Olaneljonoisle!

      • Great points. Not only are there not enough dates to fulfill every request, or that if they do it for one and not another the “other” gets upset and cries favoritism, but their doing so not only takes their time, but maybe ends up costing them money (more than traveling expenses) . This would be in that people who see them at the fundraiser might not come to a paid concert they might have otherwise. It is a tough situation. Furthermore, many of them likely have to travel more than they would like to begin with just to pay the bills. Adding more dates and travel to that (and expense with fuel) would take them away from what little precious time they had with their families already (unless perhaps it was a trip on the way). Even then, the time wouldn’t magically appear from nowhere. They would have to leave early or arrive late at home most likely unless it was on a tour where they just lost time from one stop to another (say they had extra time between stops).

      • Unless the group is fully an equal partnership, with shared expenses and costs, there is typically a group manager who has to meet payroll. A request to come somewhere for free is, in essence: “We want you to pay your employees to come here and sing for us, but we’re not going to pay you anything”! That said, out of the goodness of their heart (and for causes they really believe in), many SG group owners will do just that on occasion.

  2. The direct link to the complete article is:

    Good find.

    • I linked to the post I did because Seth’s original actually did not have the quote I used – the quote was added by the person at the post I linked to.

      Would you believe – I’ve actually had this post starred in my Google Reader since last July as a future post idea! Sometimes I hang onto ideas for quite a while before actually using them. But I do it because there will always be slow news days, and with my commitment to put something up every morning, I never want to be in a position of having nothing to say!

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGMzD6T4ql8 😉

        I actually do the same thing with my Newsletter articles for church. I have quite a few ideas, but if there is something current I write about it then while I can so I won’t run out later. So far, I haven’t really been at a loss. 😉 One called my articles my “dissertations”. 🙂

      • 🙂 I’d forgotten about that song!

  3. I’m not sure who it’s attributed to originally, but nearly any artist on the road today will tell you, “We’re not paid to sing. We’re paid to travel, set up, tear down, and be away from our families.”

    That being said, I have lost a few dates due to my requiring expenses be covered for travel. My general rule is, if it’s within a reasonable distance from home, I’ll work the date on whatever they can offer, but I will also base my setup accordingly (amount of equipment brought, etc.)

  4. I was once asked “Where is your faith?” when I told a church representative we’d need to have some advance agreement on expenses before traveling 800 miles round trip to sing. I was told “the pastor would never agree to such an arrangement” where they know they’d be expected to pay a group to come for a service.

    I wonder why it’s always the faith of the singers that is questioned and never the faith of the church or organization who made the initiative to ask.

    It’s always interesting when someone makes plans for you, expects you to carry them out for nothing and then speaks ill of you when you say you can’t or won’t.

    • Even if I am not involved such comments frost me. I always turn it around on them. Do they live by faith with their paycheck? Do they not have faith that God will provide the money you need to them to give to you? Not only are you guys “supposed” to come by faith at the risk of not earning a cent, but you have to invest money and wear and tear on vehicles to get there risking being in the hole. Please. Now, on the same side, I am up front with people calling “begging” or asking for dates. Even if I am able to have them there, it is with the understanding of love offering. I just don’t have the funds for anything but. I also try to tell them everything (even trying to talk them out of it at times) so as to be up front. I don’t get mad if they don’t come. In fact, I understand. I just try to give them the info and let them make the decision. I usually at least try to buy merchandise out of my own pocket (sometimes getting all that they have) if it is a performer I like so as to help them out and I put more in the plate than I would at a paid event. Nonetheless, part of the problem is that groups are hurting and more and more churches are not supporting SG (or maybe even having any groups in). So, they are pretty desperate to fill the dates with the hope that they will get something more than expenses in the long run.

      I had a call the other day from someone concerning Dallas Holm. He was willing to cut his flat $2000. I have no idea what the flat was, but even the amount of the $2000 cut was too rich for our blood. There is no way a love offering would have even generated $2000 and my worship budget for the year itself is only $3000. That covers choir music, office supplies and not only my needs in the music department, but some other things such as communion supplies, palm branches for Palm Sunday etc. The only way that might have worked is to set up a ticketed event and promote the heck out of it. Even then, I don’t know how well our area does with such an endeavor.

      • Yes, times are hard for many SG groups right now, making situations like some of the ones described here even more difficult.

  5. Up here in the great north state we do not often if ever see a group sing, Alaska is just too far to be on the Southern Gospel travel map. Legacy Five came to a chruch in Anchorage and can only imagine what it took them to get there. Plane tickets, shipping product, hotel rooms and then depend on the church sound system. I would not ask them or expect them to come for a love offering. I agree sometimes people hear love offering it translates into “free” music. A benefit or two a year where or when it fits on the schedule-good- but not all the time. The work they are doing, time away from their familes and the hard times we live in they deserve every penny we can give them.

    • Yes, it’s pretty hard to get a dropping-in-on-the-way-through date when you’re up in Alaska!

      • Unless the group is working an Alaska cruise maybe…

  6. One of Earl Weatherford’s comments to these kinds of questions usually centered around the love offering. The preacher would always comment on the “big ole bus in the parking lot ” and the need for fuel to get us out of town. Earl would always say ” It’s not the fuel I’m worried about. It’s feeding this group after the concert that concerns me! ” He would always look at a service as another chance to minister, but also as another chance to make new friends and contacts for other dates. Groups can’t work for free, but you sometimes have to figure out if some dates produce something better down the line.

    • That line is even funnier with how skinny Earl and Lily Fern were!