How much do Christian artists make?

Posted: August 3, 2013 in Helpful Tips, Music Business, News

Post by supergroovy


I’m in a Christian Rock band in the Christian music industry. My band (which will remain unnamed… this isn’t a plug… besides, my industry people would kill me for saying all of this, so I’ll say it anonymously) is probably on the C-level. We’re signed to a Christian independant label, our album has fantastic distribution, our first single peaked in the top ten on Christian Rock radio. Our second single is making it’s way up there, but not quite yet. We tour about 3 months out of the year so far.

I say that my band is on the C-level because we’re pretty fresh in the market. Bands on the B-level include the bands you listed in your post. A-level bands are bands like Audio Adrenline, Petra, and Third Day.

I’ll say that unless you are in an A-level band, you probably have a part-time job when you’re not touring. Our band can barely make enough to keep our families housed and fed. Most of us have VERY supportive wives that bring home most of the money. My wife works two jobs, our singer’s wife (who supports a four-person family) works 50-75 hours a week, our bass player, like me, is constantly in search of temporary jobs that he can quit to be able to go on tour when our label or booking agent requires it.

So here’s my synopsis: There are two reasons that someone would want to be in the Christian music market. The first one is that he/she wants to market the music that they write. To make money, in essence. This person writes overtly Christian music and lyrics and would most likely be able to sell their music in this market.

The other reason would be for ministry. This person wants to make a difference in the world and chose the Christian music market because they thought that they would affect more lives in that way. They assumed that since it was the ‘Christian’ music market, people would understand their mission and goal to reach unsaved people.

So here’s the problem… the money made in the Christian market is all in the top rung. Only the A-level writers, bands, and musicians make enough to survive. So unless you’re there, you’ll be a hobbiest trying to make ends meet.

The problem with the second reason to be in the Christian music market (ministry) became obvious to me very quickly. You’ll play a ton of Christian festivals, churches, youth groups, and other christian venues. All of these places have audiences that are 90-95 percent Christian. So you end up preaching to the choir most of the time. Who listens to Christian radio? Christians do. Who buys Christian CDs? Christians do.

So I ask… why be in the Christian market? If your reason is to make money, there’s more to be made in the general market. If your reason is to minister, get strong in the Lord and minister to the lost in bars, clubs, and mainstream venues and don’t market yourself as a christian band.

And to answer your question directly, I made personally made $1020 last year. That’s ALL from touring, nothing from record sales or royalties. No signing bonus, no up-front cash to help buy equipment or anything. It’s fair to say, though, that although we were signed for the entirety of last year, our album didn’t release until summer and we started touring then. I’d say that the money I made was off of about 6 months of active work. We toured about two and a half months in that time equalling about 10 weeks. That boils down to about $100 a week on the road. Just about enough to exist on, but not enough to send back home to help pay bills.

  1. Keith Mohr says:

    Amen, Eric! Great post!

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