Paying Musicians

I was just in London on vacation this past week when my friend Chris dragged me to a pub to talk about a situation they have at their church. They are facing the old debate of how to interact with professional musicians. How should a musician be compensated? What is a fair rate? Do you use the standards of the secular industry for what constitutes a fair wage to pay a pro for one rehearsal and a couple of hours of music? When is it appropriate to ask a musician to donate their labor for ministry reasons?
These are pretty sensitive issues. I’ve seen (and experienced first hand) the ways that a church can exploit musicians and artists in the name of some spiritual goal. If you were struggling to make a living as a self-employed craftsman, wouldn’t it be insulting to be asked to do your job (often times more that you do for your job) for free? However, I’ve also seen pro musicians completely miss the point of playing in worship because they get wrapped up in the same jockeying for control that goes on in the clubs.
How do we resolve these issues? I want to see professional musicians come to Christ, attending church, and using their gifts in service to the church. But can it be done for free?

  1. #1 by katiek on May 21, 2009 - 7:55 am

    I guess prayer and ministry toward the folks you’re trying to rope in is a good first step. I know I’m far from professional in most aspects, but I am always a little flattered when people ask for my services. Some folks will openly agree and give, and others will have terms to their volunteering. But yeah, just asking, being faithful in love (and attendance to their professional events perhaps) is the walk of the true friend and minister.
    I was unbelievably offended by one pastor in the ATL area when he continually asked me “how’s it going” and then would never remember the events and business I was doing. It got to be ridiculous, to the point of the pastor scolding me for not being “more involved”. So yeah, being involved, aware, and attending events would be good too I think.

  2. #2 by kirk on May 21, 2009 - 1:31 pm

    i like you last point. How many times do we in the church ask people to come and get involved when we won’t step outside the church compound to be involved in people’s lives in a real way? My new musician friends in St Louis are playing constantly, but I can never get out late to see them perform. Bummer.

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