MONEY, Part 2: The Extravagant Gamble

By

In part one I talked about poverty and wealth, and a father’s calling to care for his family. Now I’m going to broadly explain some of the nitty gritty nuts and bolts behind trying to make a living as an artist. It might get tedious, but bear with me.

How to Lose Money. So these mugs. Oh, the mugs. We thought it would be fun to find a place to commission some handmade Rabbit Room mugs, partly to support the specific potter, partly to give ye faithful Rabbit Roomers a beautiful, somewhat meaningful souvenir, and partly (how foolish we were!) to help the Rabbit Room make some money.

*Note: if this is totally boring for you, skip down to where it says, “Now, forget about the mugs.”

Brannon McAllister suggested a potter (potteress?) in Greenville, South Carolina named Katie Coston, so I sent her an email and got the wheel spinning. She charged about $16 for each mug. That sounded like a lot until I thought about all the equipment she had to have bought, and the expertise (they were really beautiful pieces) and the clay and finish and other supplies, and the time it took her to spin each lump of clay into something beautiful, and the lettering, and the firing, then the shipping and packing supplies–and suddenly $16 didn’t seem like all that much. So I ordered a dozen or so (which came out to $192); with shipping the total came to a little over $200. If you subtract from that Katie’s hours, equipment, and supplies, I’m sure that didn’t leave her much. When Jamie goes to the grocery store for our family the bill can come to quite a bit more than Katie’s gross, so our order for mugs probably didn’t even buy her and her family a week’s worth of food. Hmm.

We re-sold the mugs in the Rabbit Room for the same price, but the shipping kicked it up into the twenties. Add to that the packaging, the time it took Pete to put together the orders and drive them to the post office, then consider the fact that, no matter how well we packed the mugs, with every batch of mugs we’ve ordered, the good ol’ USPS pulverized at least one shipment. Sometimes more than that. Then we have to either apologize and refund someone’s money (because we’re out of mugs) or we apologize and ship another, eating that cost. It’s stressful just typing this out.

(I should mention that the first two orders of mugs were handmade by Katie before she moved to England. After that we went with another guy in Wisconsin who provides handmade mugs with the bonus feature of the Rabbit Room logo. These new ones are a little stouter, a little less expensive, and the logo looks grand.)

With all the broken shipments we decided we’d better start insuring the packages. Well, that costs extra, and we discovered to our shock and awe that it didn’t do any good. It seemed like someone went postal on the boxes in order to make the USPS pay. But the USPS insurance claim system is cumbersome and hardly worth the trouble. If you bought a mug, I hope this doesn’t make you feel bad. It brought us joy to bring these fine little pieces of art into the world and to get them to you. But we’ve lost a decent chunk of money on them. The only folks who made money were Katie and Stoneworks, who made very little in the scheme of things (and the USPS, now that I think about it. They may have come out on top). Still, I’m glad to have my mug, and I bet you’re glad for yours too. (If you didn’t get a mug, I’m sorry to say we won’t be ordering them until next year’s Hutchmoot, where we can sell them and safely bypass the post office.)

Whew. Did you get all that? I know it was tedious, but I wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes picture of what one can go through to a) support an artisan and b) to sell a unique and beautiful product. Was it worth it? If you ask Pete on a bad day, after stressing over all the shipping fiascos, no. When he sees you guys tweeting pictures of your unbroken and coffee-filled mugs, he’d say yes. Maybe.

Now forget about the mugs. Imagine what it’s like to make an album. It’s a lot like making a mug. A $25,000 mug. That may seem like a lot of cash, and it’s definitely possible to make an album for less–but it’s also definitely possible to make an album for more. In the old days (as in, ten years ago) $25,000 would have been a teeny tiny budget. But here’s the breakdown, in case you ever wondered why some of us strangely insist on selling CDs instead of giving them away.

You need a producer. A guy who’s smarter than you. For example, well let’s see…how about Ben Shive! Ben has a wife, four children, and a mortgage payment. He’s also really, really good at what he does. He could also make steadier money teaching college or playing piano in the corner at an Italian restaurant. But he believes in the work he’s doing and has carved out a good career making albums. He’s picky. He typically only produces projects he believes in because he knows he’ll spend weeks upon weeks with the songs and the artist–and because he wants to be a part of work that he values either for its artistic, spiritual, or relational merit. If you want a grownup to spend eight to fourteen hours a day for two months working on your album, you need to pay him. Right? Right.

You need great musicians. This one doesn’t bear much explanation, but you should know that if you want a great player on your record you’ll usually need to pay him. He or she will be someone who’s had years and years of experience and will bring nuances to your songs you would never find on your own. They’ll make you sound better than you are. (This is definitely true of my records.) But these guys have families and mortgages and grocery bills too. So you need to pay them.

You need a mixing engineer. Some guy with thousands of dollars of gear and a studio will tweak the tracks and set levels and turn knobs you never knew existed, all to make the song sound as beautiful as it can. Again, it takes years of experience to be proficient at this. And an engineer might be able to mix a song a day. So there’s another full-time job for a week or so. (Oh, and the producer is usually (and hopefully) still involved in this part of the process, so there’s his time, too.)

You have to master the record. Mastering is the icing on top. It’s the final layer of sonic sweetness, and it’s when the songs are put in the proper order and burned to the final, glowing disc of ones and zeroes representing all your weeks of labor.

Now you’re finished, right? Wrong.

Now you have to hire an artist or designer. Someone needs to package the record and come up with a cover and lay out all the lyrics and thank yous and credits. After they come up with a (hopefully) mind-blowing cover and design they need to submit all that information to the printer.

Oh, and you might need a photographer. This one goes before the artist/designer, in case you want to use pictures for the packaging. Me, I avoid this at all costs. (Take the Clear to Venus cover, for example. The one record with my face on the cover sold the fewest copies. Coincidence? I think not.)

Then you need to print it. Usually folks print the CDs 1,000 at a time to get the best price break. So think about it. After all the above, then you still need to come up with $1,500-$2,000 to actually print the thing up! Unless you’re hip and you only sell it on iTunes and Amazon (or the Rabbit Room) digitally.

Now imagine you have no record deal. You’re an independent artist. You book your own shows. You answer the emails, make the calls, manage your website, post Facebook status updates so people know you’re interesting and witty, and you’ve somehow managed to carve out enough time in your diaper-changing, utility bill-paying, yard-mowing, church-attending, self-doubting life to actually WRITE SONGS.

Then what? Then, my songwriting friend, you have to come up with $15,000-$25,000 to record them (refer to above list), with the fool’s hope that you’ll sell enough to pay off the debt, or the financiers, or the grandparents so you don’t lose your shirt and your house. The artist’s life is not for the faint of heart, or the fiscally sage. It is an extravagant gamble. A leap of faith.

Please understand–I’m not complaining. And I’m not complaining on anyone’s behalf. I’m grateful to still be doing this. I’m grateful that I have enough listeners to have a label to help offset that record-making cost. I’m grateful for a wife whose astonishing, audacious belief in my gifting has convinced me to keep at this for the last fifteen years. Lord knows I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel. I’m grateful for you, whose emails and purchases and attendance at my concerts have given me the chance to write, record, and tour. I do not take it for granted. I still get weepy if I think about it.

But if you keep up with the Square Peg Alliance and the world of independent music you know I’m the least among my peers. There are so many writers whose songs are carrying the fire. I played a show in Chattanooga last weekend with Eric Peters and a band called Concerning Lions (who were really good). The concert was raising money for a group of counselors committed to making their services available to the poorest of the poor. One of them told how he plays Eric Peters’s song “Tomorrow” for many of his clients, and it helped them to voice their own fears and doubts and sorrows. I was so proud of Eric. And it reminded me (as if I needed reminding) how vital songs like his are in all this darkness.

The music business, and now the book publishing business, is morphing even as I type this. By the time you finish reading this post there will be a zillion new bands, new websites, new ideas for the Future of Music. The times they are a-changin’. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of it like this before, but every independent artist you know is an entrepreneur. Many of us aren’t independently wealthy, don’t have benefactors, and have never written a hit song like “Awesome God” or “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” to provide so much money we have to cap our income and give the rest away. Most of us have at some point gotten royalty statements in the mail from ASCAP (who handles radio royalties) that said, “We’re sorry, but we don’t send checks for less than $10.”

The music industry is vastly different now from what it was even a decade ago. Record labels have had to change tactics, the advent of the internet and digital recording has democratized record-making and distribution, and an artist’s level of success seems to be in direct proportion to how much time he or she spends on social media. There’s a great temptation to spend most of your time promoting your work rather than improving it. We have become better typists than players; my computer keys are worn to the nub, but my fretboard is good as new. I’m not saying Facebook and Twitter and blogging are necessarily bad (forbid it that I should point out the speck in your eye when there’s a blog in mine), but that our need to sell CDs and book concerts and remind the world that we’re still here–still writing songs, still doing our best to create truthful, beautiful, excellent works–can seriously intrude on the time we could spend (and ought to spend) practicing, studying, honing our craft.

Again, this isn’t a complaint. I confess I have complained before, but this isn’t one of those times. I know full well there’s sex-trafficking, slave trade, genocide, war, and starvation all over this broken, beautiful planet. The Kingdom, God’s will done on earth, stabs into the wide blackness like a bright sword in the hands of missionaries, doctors, pastors, and Christians who die for love every day. Michael Card told me there’s more persecution in the church now than ever before. There are brothers and sisters in dank prisons right now. I don’t know why the Lord tarries. But until he comes, it is my job, in the words of George MacDonald, “to better what I can.” Look around you. See the sorrow and weariness in the world, in your own community and church, under your own roof–in your own heart, for Heaven’s sake–and better what you can. Let Christ lead you; he’ll show you how. If you’re wealthy, keep your job and fling the money at those who are bringing water to the thirsty. If you’re not wealthy, better what you can. Work your field. Tend your family like a garden. Write a song about your story. Write a story. Better yet, live a story. Make something beautiful, and make something beautiful of your life. There’s so much in the world that’s falling apart, so put something together. Find a way. If you’re called to write songs and that means getting creative with how you sell your product so that people with means can help you carry on, then so be it.

Many of us in Nashville were drawn here because of a fire in our bones to create. When I hear Andy Gullahorn sing a healing song for a rapt audience I am convinced that while there are some in the Body called to teach, and to preach, and to carry the Gospel to the earth’s edge, others of us are called to craft melodies and lyrics and carry the Gospel to the heart’s hollow. Whether a medical missionary is mending flesh or Gully is comforting a lonesome soul with a song, the medicine is the same. We carry to the world the presence of Jesus in us and through us who are in him and for him.

However we can, we better what we can.

Next: MONEY, Part Three

Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


52 Comments

  1. Kjoy

    love it!

    My husband and I face these same challenges with his construction business. Very frustrating at times!

    Keep up the good work and I’ll keep buying your music (and books- though probably not $20 mugs- I don’t even drink coffee)

    Oh, and Clear to Venus is one of my faves!

  2. Rachelle

    I just want to say thanks for hanging in there, for investing in the ministry of music. I’m a missionary in a country where less than 2% of the people know Jesus Christ. I can’t begin to tell you how much your music has touched me and encouraged me to carry on. So thanks for all the time and work and money invested into creating something beautiful.

  3. Simeon Morell

    Andrew, well said. Just remember that we’d love to have you back in Sweden whenever you can make it!

  4. Erik Cederberg

    Andrew,

    Great thoughts here. Things definitely get interesting when your piece of art has to in some way function as a “commodity”. It’s kind of the antithesis of art; expression vs. product. That being said, you explain the artists plight (and risk, yet joy) very well.

    I am in the same boat, just not doing it full time, working “technical-support” at a power company in Portland, OR. No complaints. I am going to process of demo-ing tunes and trying to raise a recording budget. Fun stuff.

    Its interesting that folks will spend $15 on popcorn and soda at a movie, but scoff at spending the same on someones piece of musical art, months in the making.

    Good luck with your music bro!

    -Erik

  5. J Aquila

    Used the mug this morning and will continue to feel blessed to have both of mine, in one piece, for here forward. They’re both great reminders for me to sit back and enjoy the blessings that God has given me.

  6. Peter Gaultney

    This whole series is well-timed (how could it be otherwise?). Specifically, in my case, because I am struggling with the tediousness of a boring job that exercises few of my “favorite” talents. Despite this apparent waste of my time and energy, I find myself with much more money than I know what to do with, and it is folks like you, and the ways in which you forge that blade’s sharp edge, that remind me that there’s some real worth in doing what I do. It’s a true privilege to be able to support, in whatever way I can, the creation (by the few) of good things that consistently inspire the many to turn our hearts toward God himself.

  7. kelli

    Andrew, thanks for this series of posts. I have found myself coming back to them often over the past 2 days. You continue to call us bring beauty to our daily lives. To create in the here and now…whatever that here and now may look like.

    Thank you!

  8. Keith Schambach

    I, for one, was happy to pay the price for a Rabbit Room mug. I often enjoy drinking my morning coffee from it. Each time I do I think to myself what a beautiful and unique piece of art it is. I am sorry to hear that the Rabbit Room had to suffer the loses because for the irresponsibility of others.

    I have been very interested in this thread of posts that has begun about money, stewardship, poverty, The Kingdom, and bills. AP, I appreciate your explanation, but I would like to think that it is unnecessary. Unnecessary because those of us that are the recipients of the fruit of your labor should understand and be willing to pay the price for the final product. Be it a mug, album, painting, book, whatever. I understand money is not easy to come by these days but I think we can forget the work and effort that is put into a product (as you described for an album), and be quick to complain about the cost.

    If we truly enjoy the art that is created, and understand the price that the artist pays (through time, training, editing, practicing etc.) to share with us that final product, we will realize the blessing we receive is far above and beyond the price tag we pay.

    I know that this is true for me with anything I have ever purchased in the Rabbit Room. Especially when it comes to those albums that you described.
    Thanks Andrew, for the time and energy you spend to let all of us enjoy songs and stories that draw us closer to understanding the depth of The Great Story.
    We are happy to pay a few bucks to put food on your table, and shoes on your children’s feet, that we may continue to be blessed by the gifts The Maker has given to you.

  9. MargaretW

    Golly, how can I best encourage you the way your music has encouraged me?

    One of my friends let me borrow one of your cd’s a few years ago. I said, “Oh, I’ll burn a copy.” She said, “Um, no you won’t or I’ll beat you.” I was like, “You stink as a friend.” but I didn’t burn it. Didn’t buy it either, but I didn’t know about the Rabbit Room then and was a simpleton not able to grasp the full scope of AP-ishness. My friend told me, “Andrew Peterson has to make a living and we want to support him.” I was like, “I bet he makes more money than I do so you can stuff it!” and crawled back under my bridge because, you know, I’m a troll, obviously.

    Cut to 2010 when I attended my first concert at said friends insistence. “Whoa, Nelly! Andrew Peterson is amazing! I must buy all his cd’s.” And that’s exactly what I did and will do from here until eternity, or until you stop making music(heaven forbid!) But I don’t let people burn them, even when I lend. And now, in fact, I just give away and re-buy.

    So I’m glad you shared so we can all have a better understanding of what you go through. I got a huge awakening at a writing conference last year when I was told that I would have to market and sell my books. I thought somebody else would do that for me. Ha!

    Now before I go crawl back under my troll bridge, I’m off to play with the three billy goats gruff.

  10. William Livingston

    Amen! This is why myself and many others want to support you and your craft. Personally, because I know I could not make the same beauty in lyric and song the way you can. Certain albums should cost $10 or perhaps even $5. Yet some rare finds are truly worth $20 or dare I say $30. With music and other art being so subjective. everyone places a different value on different artists. I like many others reading your blog would surely pay. more for what you create. However, you continue to allow us to “underpay you” for your craft. ie: I just asked my wife if she would rather spend $70/ ticket to see any current broadway musical in Manhattan or $100/ ticket for the BTLOG production at the Ryman. The answer was instantaneous. Duh!

    I for one am grateful you gave us the chance to support your music through the tiered system. However, like it or not you are still getting a guitar. Sounds like perhaps more than one too.

  11. JamesBrett

    i don’t know much about social media and selling one’s goods, but it’s absolutely amazing the haste and harry brought on by technology. i’m currently serving as a missionary and development working in tanzania. 30 years ago, i would have occasionally written letters home about our work and visited churches while on furlough every two years. 15 years ago, not a great deal would have changed except those letters back and forth would have come just a bit faster (email). but now… with cheap long distance, skype, cell phone texting, email, blogs, facebook, time travel, and warp zones, suddenly it’s urgent that we discuss our important financial matter this morning at this time, and they need a video by this date, and we should have thank you letters out to our donors within 5 or 6 days of receiving the moneys. [30 years ago, all of this could have waited months.]

    there’s a lot to be said for simplicity. it’s remarkable the difference between sitting at my computer in my house and walking around in our african community. relationships and chatting vs. due dates and email replies. anyone want to buy a mac?

  12. JJ

    I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say thank you for pressing on and thanks for sharing that. I enjoyed every word of it. I’m very happy to have this little glimpse behind the scenes. I didn’t imagine it was easy. I’ll be happy to get my mug at Hutchmoot next year.

    I have a few friends in a band in Houston and us fans have been waiting for a new album since 2000. But they have families to take care of and careers that help do that. The music biz just didn’t provide like they needed it to. But during that time the little community of us fans have gotten to be great friends and even planned a get together in Houston so we could all meet a few years ago. The band isn’t dead, but our friendships hold us together now. We came together to talk about the band and our mutual interest in music, and we ended up praying for each other, walking through dark times with each other, sharing each other’s joys, and even sharing meals when we’re passing through someone’s town.

    So anyway, thanks for doing what you do. What you ALL do. I know it’s not easy. I’m just glad I can be a part, even if it’s a small part, of supporting you guys and gals.

  13. JJ

    I’m curious, is there a way to donate to the Rabbit Room? I don’t have a ton of money (who does?) but it would be nice to have a way (maybe a Paypal address?) that we could send monetary gifts to the RR if we were so inclined.

    I mean I could send you more Batman comics AP but I don’t imagine that would help with the groceries. 🙂

  14. Eric Peters

    God bless you, Andrew Peterson.

    If I may be so bold as to add a token note to your well thought-out piece: No way on earth I could have made “Chrome” without the patronage project I embarked upon in ’08/09. It was human beings (several of whom are RRoomers) who believed enough in me/my work — without having heard a single note beforehand — that allowed that record to come into being. It was a gift to me.

    Thanks for this insightful post.

  15. Sherry

    I’m really enjoying these posts. They’re particularly timely in my life as well.

    Thank you for continuing to press on. Your music has greatly blessed our household.

  16. S.D. Smith

    Yes, AP. Yes.

    While not as important and insightful as my piece about smelly ooze, it’s still pretty dadgum helpful.

    There is a lot of wisdom in this series. Well done.

  17. Alan

    I am learning quickly and unprepared-ly about what it means to run a business for the sake of expanding the Kingdom. Its crazy. Especially in a place where everyone who’s come before me in the name of the Kingdom has been more than eager to give their services for free. (I work in the DRC, and I’m referring to the Catholic church and protestant missionaries. No offense, I’m one of the latter too.)

    I make ceramic water filters (and I’m going to make my own RR mug in our kiln), and sell them non-profitably. The problem here seems to be tangled up in the word “sell”. “How could you SELL clean water to people who can barely afford the cup to put it in, and then try to share the gospel with them?!”

    The reality is that the hurt that I would cause by giving them away would be not my own, so much, as it would be to those who come after me, and even those receiving the services. When I endure three months of Pete and Gully and Ben Shive praising AP’s new album on twitter, and then finally get to BUY it and listen to it, it means about 20 thousand times more to me than when I get on *Napster and download it. (*Some names in this story have been altered for security reasons.) In the same way, someone who saves their meal money for a day or two to get a water filter, might appreciate it more than someone who gets it for free. Also, it would kinda suck for every other square peg guy if AP started giving all his albums away for free. Just like it would kinda suck for whoever takes up the water-filter biz after I leave, if I had given all the filters away for free.

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch, even when your lunch is free. Ham sandwiches don’t grow on trees. Neither do ceramic water filters in DRC, or Square Peg albums in Nashville. So thank you AP, for making me spend 10 bucks on Counting Stars. Interestingly enough, our water filters are going to sell for 10 bucks too. The money I spent on Counting Stars has kept me from going crazy more times than once, therefore making clean water and Living Water more available here.

  18. Susan Mansfield

    🙁 I’m sad to hear there will be no more mugs till Hutchmoot next year,
    See, this is why it needs to come to England…so I can get a mug!!

    Seriously though, that was a beautiful post and I like the others am sad to read of the stress that was born out of trying to provide something lovely for us and raise funds for this wonderful place.

    My family has only been listening to your cds for almost a year. But since that time, i’ve gained a RR friend, bought more books due to this place, found new muscians to listen to…again thanks to the RR, read so many *real* blog posts here that my beloved onering.net has vanished from my most visited sites and been replaced by this one! And I’ve been spiritually nourished by all of it, possibly more so than any other time in my walk with God. So you were so right when you remarked about ‘comforting a lonesome soul with a song’. I am very grateful.

    Susan

  19. Aaron Roughton

    Love these posts Mr. Peterson. Money (and the love thereof) is one of the largest stumbling blocks in my faith (or the lack thereof). I appreciate the comments too. Thanks Rabbit Roomers.

  20. Jodi

    I haven’t second-guessed the mugs or the pre-order tiers (I adore the artist/patron model), but I’m finding this series delightfully educational. And this entry in particular encourages me to keep taking a chance on my own extravagant gamble. Thanks.

  21. Matt Phang

    Thanks, Andrew, for your “complaints”! Really encourages my soul to see you taking the effort to explain the how’s & the why’s. May God Bless you richly!

  22. Micah

    I haven’t taken the time to read all the comments, so this may have been asked already, but after reading a post like this I always wonder, what is the best way to purchase music from my favorite artist? Does it make a difference whether I get it from iTunes, their website, another website, and so on? If I am going to buy an album, I want as much as my money to get to that artist as possible. Whats the best way to ensure that happens?

  23. sally apokedak

    Another great post…I think I have one small place of disagreement.

    I’m not sure it matters if the producer and musicians have bills to pay and kids to feed. We should pay the workman his wages without even wondering how much he needs.

    He should look at what he needs and what he can give away, but we shouldn’t say, “So and so has enough money to meet his needs so I need not pay him a fair wage.”

    I know you weren’t making the point that we should pay based on needs, but I think it’s worth pointing out that you don’t need to use another person’s needs to support you argument that we should pay others for their services.

    Anyway, great posts, and thank God for Jonathan Rogers, that social media maniac, who insisted all his facebook friends come over here and read.

  24. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Micah,

    Generally speaking, artists make the most from albums purchased directly through their own websites or, even better, from merch tables at their shows. In the Rabbit Room store, artists receive a minimum of 75% of the sale price of their product (for some of our artists, we function as their store.) Artists receive the best support, however, from the purchase of downloads. Because there is no physical product to print or deliver, the artist nets a better profit.

  25. Aaron Alford

    For the record, I deeply regret illegally downloading those mugs.

    Honestly, though, when a product (a completely insufficient word) is as beautiful as those available here at the Rabbit Room, from mugs to digital downloads, it’s worth it.

  26. Tina

    Amen on today’s post, and yesterday’s and a Amen in advance for part 3. It’s too bad you felt the need to write these posts, but I am glad you did. It shows all of us your heart in this. I can’t wait to collect all your cd’s and hopefully purchase a RR mug in the future! God bless!

  27. Angie K.

    Isn’t it interesting that Rich Mullins, the composer of the songs to which you refer, had royalties mailed to a board at his church? He arranged it so he didn’t even know how much the checks were that came in, but he received the amount equal to the average wage of a working man.

    I continue to be amazed at the ways God uses independent artists for His glory – thank you for sharing with us from the heart! (btw, here at Taylor University, in Upland, Indiana, there is the C. S. Lewis Collection. On the library’s lower level, there is a replica of “The Eagle and Child,” and I think this was the pub that housed “The Rabbit Room.” Irony? Taylor is a dry campus. So the replica is, of course, nonfunctional.) http://www.taylor.edu/academics/supportservices/cslewis/index.shtml

  28. joe thayer

    It’s funny you should mention the guy playing piano in the corner of the Italian restaurant. That’s me. I just got home from the gig. I must say that this post has made me a little bummed. I have just been informed that if my dreams come true, and I find success as a writer and producer, I’m gonna be looking at a pay cut. Really? Don’t tell my wife.

  29. Vic Rozumny

    “The Kingdom, God’s will done on earth, stabs into the wide blackness like a bright sword in the hands of missionaries, doctors, pastors, and Christians who die for love every day.”

    Thanks for both posts brother.

    Vic

  30. Brian

    I read this post and felt absolute despair. For 25 years I’ve had the deeply-rooted-but-not-acted-upon dream that someday God would open the doors for me to make a living from my music, like my primary inspiration, Rich Mullins (and others). Over the past year, as I saw 40 approaching, I’ve taken that dream more seriously, improving my songwriting, traveling to Nashville, etc. But this post just reinforces the idea that my commitments to my wife and three kids, rooted in a place that’s NOT Nashville, with a good (but not That good) job, all mean that the dream’s not coming true. The barriers are too high.

    It’s better to let unrealistic pipe dreams go, and focus on the responsibilities at hand. If I’m going to “better what I can,” I have to accept my limitations, and not try to do what I can’t do. Maybe this wasn’t the effect that AP intended, but that’s where I am this morning.

  31. Dan Kulp

    Brian. Just make sure you aren’t measuring success by making a living off of music, or gaining name recognition.

    A wise friend once advised me during a “career” re-evaluation don’t get stuck thinking professional ministry is the only way to serve God. Similarly making a living off of music is not the only way God can use your musical gift. (I liked the 3-4 songs I listened to by the way, if you were selling them, I’d be a patron.)

    Throughout my encounters around the Christian music scene I’ve been very touched by the local artists singing from a passion that won’t quit in their lives. They may never play outside a tri-state area or get a major album cut, but I have enjoyed them and support them.

  32. carrie luke

    consider this one very small ‘pay off’ on three rabbit roomer’s ‘gamble.’ i would even use the word…’faith.’

    http://journeysofaprodigaldaughter.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/a-picture-says-a-1000-words/

    Andrew, the night you and the CC’s played at WG, what you did not know was that it wasn’t a group of YL kids. They were a retreat from a conservative christian high school kicking off their school year. These kids have picked apart every redemptive story since the 3rd grade.(Maybe you couldn’t hear the groan when you mentioned Narnia.)

    There was not much mystery left in them for the gospel story, until that night. (i’m not knocking xian ed…i’m a huge proponent.)

    You three come in totally oblivious and invite them all to dream again….childlike stories of freedom in faith. Freedom in the love of God through X. I was SO proud of you(collective you) for not trying to pretend or ‘call it in’ so to speak. You just did what we value here at the RR. You, Andy, and Ben….’bettered what you could.’

    and it was awesome.

    may we all have the courage to gamble as well.

  33. Aaron Roughton

    Aaron A., I’m still laughing at the thought of you illegally downloading mugs. Brilliant.

    Brian, I’m with you. Right down to the 3 kids. I’ve even dealt with that despair on a regular basis. But I’m praying you find hope. One thing I brought home from Hutchmoot was an amazing sense of how these extremely talented creative people had an ulterior motive. The scoundrels didn’t just bring me to Nashville to sell cd’s to me and fund their new Hummer purchases (Russ). What separates them from any other conference or creative gathering that I have been a part of is a uniform desire to point us upward toward Jesus. The secret is that this isn’t an ulterior motive. It’s their singular motive. It’s the thing that drives them. In particular, it drives them to create. And for me, it adds immeasurably to the value of their creations. I’m not saying all these guys are perfect, but as a whole, the things that they create are a result of a desire to serve their Savior. There’s hope in that for those of us who struggle with creations that aren’t part of a “marketplace.” So may we give up our dreams as we press into the dreams that God has for us. And may we continue to support the people whose creations move us in that direction.

  34. Ben

    Andrew,

    For a guy like me who is a long time music maker but exploring songwriting, this post was extremely helpful. I’m a pastor by vocation but have a passion for songwriting. In all my dreaming, I struggle to see how it all works with a family (wife and 3 kids). Your post will be bookmarked so I can refer back to when I sense my motivation drifting toward earthly reward. Thank you!

  35. Amelia Palmer

    Wow, I loved this! I think sometimes the common listener has just no idea how important it is to buy the record and concert ticket – we rarely consider the need or the fact that this lovely music could end if not sufficiently supported by those who love it so well. But most of all, I have to say thank you for all that you do Andrew Peterson! I have loved your music for years, it speaks to my soul and my love of our God. And now even more, it is a support and a means to speak the word and love of God into the hearts of my two little boys. I know you know just how sweet it is to hear a 5 year old boy sing out the words of your songs at the top of his lungs (as mine does daily) and when my 2 year old asks me before I have even started the car “play Andrew Peterson!”, I just smile. You are helping our hearts sing out to our Lord and reminding us of the good in this life. Never stop what you do so well! We love you much!

  36. Ben

    Thanks, Andrew. You will always have the support of me and my family. Your music has brought more blessings to me than I could list.

  37. Bill

    Great reply,
    To part 1 I posted my take/fear of mixing ministry and capitalism. A couple of folks wrote back (I think one of them was THE Ron Block). One of the discussion points I hear frequently is that you do not mind if the Christian Plumber/ Air conditioner guy etc does his thing and you pay the bill. To me the distinction would be if me and the plumber have a discussion around Christ and he enlightens me on a topic then tacks that to the bill. I am replying to post2 specifically because it addresses what I think is the inherent danger in mixing messengers/ messages of Christ with making a living. To be clear, I am not saying all those gifted musically should be the responsibility of the Church (Big C) to support. Only those who claim to be called to sing/write specifically about our savior to the church, being a practical guy I’d say it this way, if 75% + of your revenue comes from the church, for stuff the unchurched wouldn’t get, you are a ward of the church. Someone said Andrew’s position in ministry is not the same as those who divide the word to us I disagree. Rich and Andrew have exhorted, encouraged, challenged and caused more introspection for me than most ministers teachers I have sat under. To be clear my argument is not that Andrew is greedy, conversly I believe he should be essentially salaried to a point (like my favorite monks at the Monestary) where he stops wearing out the keys on the computer and he wears out the fretboard instead. Just my thoughts here I always appreciate Andrews openness and honesty. P.S. counting stars and all the other AP albums are worth way more than 25K.

  38. Combing the Net – 9/4/2010 « Honey and Locusts

    […] Andrew Peterson on Money — Wednesday I posted part 1 of Andrew Peterson’s blog series on money and poverty. Part 2 and Part 2.5 are now online. Those familiar with Wendell Berry will recognize a lot of commonalities in the types of things Peterson says, which is to be expected. Andrew Peterson is one of Wendell Berry’s biggest fans! […]

  39. Keep God First

    Wow. And that doesn’t even mention your books. Heaven will make a suitable home for you… a place where one never sleeps. Only God is powerful enough to enable you to do all you do for him. I don’t know how anyone who knows you could lack faith.

  40. Drew Zahn

    Can’t tell you how many times it was an Andrew Peterson song that cut through my malaise, when no other whisper of God could be heard over the sound of my sinful heart, but that Andrew’s humble song pierced me to the soul, pulled me to the side of the road and sent me weeping back to my Father’s arms.

    Thank you for risking everything for those of us in desperate need of something every now and then.

    And by the way, Clear to Venus has always been my favorite album, from the first time I heard the Penny song.

  41. JJ Heller

    Umm… that last paragraph made me want to cry (in a good way). Sometimes this lifestyle can feel overwhelming, so thank you for reminding why I love it so much.

If you have a Rabbit Room account, log in here to comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *