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#2274644 - 02/16/11 11:34 PM Worship/Praise/Church bands
MAJUSCULE Offline
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Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 2807
Loc: Edmonton, Alberta
Toeing the line here... I hope this doesn't violate the Religion rule. I hope the responses will be adequate as well...

I am wondering how you guys who play in such bands do. How big are your crowds? Is it your main source of income? Do you or have you toured? I'm just looking for a little insight into this part of the biz, as I am very much a stranger to it. I hear about the big mega-churches and the monstrous productions that go along with them, which is a big contrast to the piano+1 to 3 singers who barely get through the mass where my parents go. Please, show me the light (Pun unfortunately intended).

But remember, cop
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#2274656 - 02/17/11 02:43 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: MAJUSCULE]
mcgoo Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/03/07
Posts: 2007
Loc: Indianapolis
I'm the music director for my church's contemporary worship. We have 2 locations- one traditional with pipe organ / choir & one contemporary with praise team, each seeing approx 500-600 per weekend. We do 2 services (Saturday early evening & Sunday morning). It's technically a part time position- I call it my "other full time job".... I put in anywhere from 15-20 hours / week.

It's pretty cool & challenging. Every week I'm adding new material so that the music each week is theme related to the message. This keeps the job fresh & interesting. I find material, make chord charts & vocal arrangements & lead rehearsals. Musically it's very much a dictatorship, which in our setting works well. There is not enough time to debate arrangements or nuances of chord inversions, so I let everyone know what I'm looking for & they make it happen. Most of my team is made up of volunteer members, so the talent level isn't what you'd be used to if you were putting together a band of seasoned musicians. However, I'm careful to pick suitable material & coach people (the biggest things being to establish a groove, work through beginnings / endings / transitions, and keep people from over-playing).

Vocally, I think you can be surprised what gems can be found in a congregation. Music teachers, people who grew up singing in show choir or theatre.... people who can really sing but have never had interest being in a band playing bars. All of my singers read, so I can pull off some pretty cool vocal arrangements.

Churchs can have tech advantages too you wouldn't normally have in a bar band. We have big video screens to project lyrics & videos, and an Aviom In Ear Monitoring system. Several times I have done video presentations where I've taken a video, replaced the audio with a click that I've fed through the In Ears, and we've played music to video. Pretty cool, and a powerful way to get a message across.

Yes I've toured (but not with anyone famous), I still gig & sub out sometimes for out of town gigs. The income isn't my primary income, but it's a chunk of it. I won't get into the spiritual aspect of it for obvious reasons, but it's all good.
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#2274664 - 02/17/11 04:13 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: mcgoo]
DanS Offline
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Registered: 11/14/00
Posts: 6459
Loc: Montréal
0% income, but that's not why I do it anyway.
We recently upgraded our DP & PA system, so this was a big deal for us.
Our congregation is on average around 40-50 every Sunday. Once every other month or so we do music nights with members from other churches, but nowhere near the scale of the US soirées. Touring means going down the street to the retirement home.
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#2274673 - 02/17/11 05:35 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: DanS]
Synthoid Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 6853
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: DanS
0% income, but that's not why I do it anyway.


Same with me. Our worship leader is paid, however, and he works part-time at the church.

On average, our congregation has 80-100 in attendance each week. There are some local "mega-churches" with several hundred members in attendance--they have serious worship teams with professional musicians and lots of additional singers.

Our worship team doesn't tour, but we've played at other churches and been "the band" for local fund raising events. Sometimes we'll get paid or just receive a good meal.

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#2274676 - 02/17/11 05:48 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: DanS]
MoodyBluesKeys Online   content
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Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 2492
Loc: eastern North Carolina
My situation is closer to DanS than to mcgoo - the church usually has attendance of a hundred or so. We have one paid music director (although not highly paid), the rest of us are not paid - at least not in earthly terms.
We are fortuante to have enough musicians so that different services can be covered by different groups. Our main service group usually has three keyboardists (MD/WL chords, pastor's wife really knows how to play - she can sight read most anything), and myself - I fill in and add voicings that are not there otherwise, like Hammond, orchestrals, pads, synths. Two guitarists - they switch around lead and rhythm. Drums, bassist, between three and six vocalists. Music is surprisingly eclectic - our congregation has members who have attended all sorts of churches in the past, and we happily mix everything from Episcopal high church music through contemporary rock-based music, hymns, black gospel. Most of the music is not very complex, although our two major choral works of the year (Easter and Christmas) sometimes give me a patch list of 100 or more different sounds in an hour.

Wish we had IEMs - right now, we run like most bar bands, individual amps, stage monitors to help keep synch, FOH with a 16 channel board; video screen with lyrics for the congregation, rear mounted video screen for choral works. A project is beginning to improve our overall sound and visual setup, which will involve a larger board mounted inside the main area so that the person mixing will hear what the congregation is hearing, with video recording in the same area, added channels, hopefully getting rid of individual amps except for small monitors.

Touring for us - several times a year, there are choral gettogethers rotated between us and several other associated churches. We also do some outside events, both on a bandstand on the church grounds and in various public venues, including some events held by the local Chamber of Commerce. We are not in a large city, the whole county has a population of about 70,000.

We also have a vibrant youth program, a youth praise band (who do more local area - 50 mile or less - touring than us older folk), we have some members who have sung professionally (including a baritone whose voice is on some of the major records from the doo-wop era).

We also bring in some touring groups from time to time, and provide our facilities for them to present their music.

I am in the fortunate position of being partly retired, still running a computer networking business so that I don't have to be paid to do something that is as rewarding personally as being where I'm supposed to be and playing in front of others instead of by myself in my studio.

Our present MD has only been with us for a few months now, and is definitely open to new opportunities for us to improve and to reach others. A percentage of our older instrumentalists have played bars and other locations earlier in life. I personally play with a secular group locally also, but it is more of a jam band type of thing.

Eric - I hope this is helpful. I've been in some mega-churches, even designed and built broadcast quality TV control rooms for a couple of them. But numerically, there are a LOT more of the small churches like this one; and it's good to be where I am.
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#2274679 - 02/17/11 05:57 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: MoodyBluesKeys]
gryphon Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 12/30/08
Posts: 536
Loc: Okemos, MI
I play free of charge, also. We're all volunteer. I use IEM for myself only and play all parts except piano (usually) - pads, organ...sometimes I play piano but rarely.
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#2274692 - 02/17/11 06:39 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: MAJUSCULE]
Synthoid Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 6853
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Just wanted to mention... I normally play string pads, organs, and the occasional choir, flute, or synth patch during our contemporary worship service.

But as I mentioned a month or so ago, I also started playing the baby grand for a song or two during the service and received so many compliments and encouragement... I've been doing it every Sunday! The person who normally plays the piano has been on a business trip for a few weeks, so I'm really enjoying filling in.
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#2274712 - 02/17/11 07:52 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Synthoid]
Eric Iverson Offline
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Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 4827
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
I've played guitar and mandolin in different church environments, and never for pay - though I would take it if they offered. But I never really had to do much except go to practices and read charts and/or lyrics with chords above, so I never expected pay for that.
There were a couple of music directors who SHOULD have been paid that I worked with, who did a lot of work preparing sheet music and training the choir, etc.

Some of my church gigs were great, and some left a lot to be desired, just out of general musical cluelessness on the part of those in charge. I wouldn't mind playing in a church band again, but the novelty wore off a long time ago; the music would have to SOUND GOOD in order for me to be happy. If I'm not enjoying it, why do it? Especially since I'm not very good at pretending I'm happy if I'm not, LOL!

Biggest crowd I played for? I would guess 2,000; but the situations varied widely. I really enjoyed playing mandolin in a little hole in the wall church in the Village, because 1: the acoustics were fabulous; and 2) sometimes I got to play with the pastor's kids who were Juilliard students on cello, viola and violin. A string quartet, since I played chords and sometimes the second violin part.

There are situations where a choir/band director can make a living in churches, sometimes even a GOOD living. And some guys get paid just for playing - especially organists. A lot of that depends on whether the church can AFFORD it.

There are even some people who sell lots of records and are "stars" in a sense - not saying they are prima donnas, though some get caught up in that mentality if they let the praise get to them.

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#2274714 - 02/17/11 08:01 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Eric Iverson]
jay da cop Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 590
Loc: Sudbury, Ontario
I am similar to synthoid. We play 2 services on Sunday, to a total of about 400-450. We also play our own concerts, as well as being invited to play other churches. The only ones that pay are when we are invited, and that goes into a "band fund" that basically covers gas, and gets us new PA gear when needed.

I did the megachurch thing, where the band leader was actually on staff, and as such was the only paid position, but the other musicians were AMAZING!! ALL were music college/conservatory grads and most had previous experience, whether in symphonies or local club bands.

This could go from the guy who learned guitar in his bedroom 3 months ago to an experience like mine. My suggestion is not get too hung up on what others are doing but how to make the most of your situation. Unless you write like David Crowder, Chris Tomlin or Hillsong, you will most likely not get rich doing this. It has to be a passion within you.

Jay

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#2274717 - 02/17/11 08:17 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: jay da cop]
Bobadohshe Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 4688
Loc: San Diego / Los Angeles
Church gigs have long been a staple of my Sunday. I've played in Baptist congregations, Catholic congregations, Presbyterian, Unitarian, and the list continues. I currently hold down two completely unrelated church gigs on Sunday in two different towns. I love doing them, but also get paid.

Since you are probably interested and there is no reason to hold it back, I'll volunteer that one of them pays $70 while the other pays $130. I've found that most church gigs fall in this range per service, with $100 still the average. Most services tend to be three hour commitments from the moment you walk in the door for rehearsal to the moment you leave.

I'll also say that that pay range is for a small to average sized congregation, between 50 and several hundred people. I've also found that the size of the congregation isn't always proportional to the amount of money the gig pays, though usually it is.

Circumstances vary greatly in these gigs too with the ratio of band members who are volunteers to hired guns. This can be fine but sometimes make things a little tense if you have a bunch of brash anti church folk playing in the church band.

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#2274721 - 02/17/11 08:31 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Bobadohshe]
Synthoid Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 6853
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: Bobadohshe
Since you are probably interested and there is no reason to hold it back, I'll volunteer that one of them pays $70 while the other pays $130. I've found that most church gigs fall in this range per service, with $100 still the average.


Not bad for a Sunday morning... I haven't found any consistent worship band paying gigs yet.

I find the fun and fellowship enjoyable, but as someone else mentioned, I wouldn't turn down a paycheck.

smile
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#2274732 - 02/17/11 08:43 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Bobadohshe]
Joe Muscara Offline
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Registered: 02/21/05
Posts: 15835
Loc: Heaven, Hell, or Houston
[This is not a statement about religion, but about terminology...]

I find it funny to see some say "megachurch" to describe ones with several hundred members. I guess Lakewood Church here in Houston with it's 16,800 seat church and over 43,500 in attendance should then be called a "picochurch" or "googolchurch." laugh

I know someone who has done gigs there, but I don't know more than that. Sorry.

My piano teacher has been doing quite a bit at his church lately. Besides the aforementioned Trinity Jazz Festival, he recently sent out this email.

Quote:
WEEKLY:

Sundays, 12:30 - 1:30 pm

Morrow Chapel
Trinity Episcopal Church
Gentle jazz/gospel service in a lovely, small chapel with fine acoustics


Sun, Feb 13
Trinity Singers
Paul (piano)
guest vocalist, Janet Orfield

Sun, Feb 20
Trinity Singers
Horace Alexander Young III (saxophone/flute/vocals)
Paul (piano)

Sun. Feb 27
Trinity Singers
Horace Alexander Young III (saxophone/flute/vocals)
Paul (piano)
guest vocalist, Todd Miller

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS:


WITHOUT WORDS

Thurs, Mar 3, 7 - 8 pm
Morrow Chapel
Trinity Episcopal Church

One hour of quiet, contemplative music for prayer, meditation and personal reflection. People of all faiths welcome. Those with no faith just as welcome. Participants may come and go as they wish but will kindly enter and leave in silence.

Paul English (piano) Erich Avinger (guitar) Peace.


CHRIST CHURCH SPECIAL GOSPEL MASS

Sun, Mar 6, 9:00 and and 11:00 am
Christ Church Cathedral

April Sloan-Hubert (vocals)
Paul English (piano)
Kelly Dean (sax)
Anthony Sapp (bass)
Tyson Sheth (drums)
Christ Church Choir conducted by Robert Simpson
Children’s Chorus conducted by Marianna Simpson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Venue information:

Morrow Chapel
Trinity Episcopal Church
1015 Holman at Main
Houston, Texas 77004

Christ Church Cathedral
1117 Texas Avenue across the street from the Magnolia Hotel
Houston, Texas 77002

I just realized there's a second church listed in there.

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#2274739 - 02/17/11 08:55 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Joe Muscara]
Synthoid Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 6853
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Lakewood Church here in Houston with it's 16,800 seat church and over 43,500 in attendance


Wow!

Standing room only, or do they have several services? freak
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#2274741 - 02/17/11 08:57 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Synthoid]
Eric Iverson Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 4827
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
Some churches DO have several services, and there are people who play at the 9:00 am and 11:00 am but not at the 3 pm and 7 pm, and vice versa.

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#2274743 - 02/17/11 09:01 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Synthoid]
Bobadohshe Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 4688
Loc: San Diego / Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Synthoid
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Lakewood Church here in Houston with it's 16,800 seat church and over 43,500 in attendance


Wow!

Standing room only, or do they have several services? freak


That's Joel Osteen's church. You see it on T.V.



It's the epitome of everything that's not my scene. But their band does smoke, and they get paid well for shizzle.

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#2274753 - 02/17/11 09:15 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Synthoid]
Bill H. Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 3327
Loc: Columbia River Gorge, US
I'm "in the band" of a non-denominational church set up by the pastor, who is a recovering alcoholic like myself. Sunday attendance is 100 or so, and Wednesday night is 1/2 that. Coffee and doughnuts are always provided. There is no pay. We all do it as a labor of love.

The praise band leader (who helped found this church in the 1990s) is on piano, and I sing and back her up on keys. I use my old XP-80 (stuffed with expansion boards) for my main keyboard because it does seamless program changes. I'm often going from the full roar of a song ending to a quiet pad for prayer in an instant. I'm sure I'll be looking hard at a Kronos this summer, but I'm not sure I can justify the expense of one when it's main use would be freebies.

If the OP is looking for ways to make money off of this - sorry, I'm no help there.

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#2274758 - 02/17/11 09:20 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Bobadohshe]
Dave E Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 504
Loc: San Antonio, TX
I was the MD at a televised mega-church for about ten years. Three services a week with total attendance of about 11,000. There are 15 guys in the morning band - all paid and everybody reads well - and about 125 in a volunteer choir. Rhythm section guys make about $350 for all three services, horn players maybe $125 for 2. I was full time and made pretty good bread: I probably averaged more than $70K a year.

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#2274777 - 02/17/11 09:44 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Bobadohshe]
mcgoo Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/03/07
Posts: 2007
Loc: Indianapolis
Originally Posted By: Bobadohshe
Originally Posted By: Synthoid
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Lakewood Church here in Houston with it's 16,800 seat church and over 43,500 in attendance


Wow!

Standing room only, or do they have several services? freak


That's Joel Osteen's church. You see it on T.V.



It's the epitome of everything that's not my scene. But their band does smoke, and they get paid well for shizzle.


The Lakewood music that came out of the partnership of Cindy Cruse Ratcliff & Israel Houghton plain & simply rocks. Some very fine music period, regardless of your beliefs!
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#2274781 - 02/17/11 09:47 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Dave E]
Aidan Offline
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Registered: 08/11/06
Posts: 3466
Loc: Stoke-on-Trent, UK
I'm the organist/one-man-band-on-Clavinova/choirmaster for a fairly large town centre church. We're real happy if we get 80-100 on a Sunday morning. Thus the gap between Church of England/evangelical churches and to a large extent, the US and UK, where church attendances are pretty much in decline.

For this, I get the princely sum of £2,000 a year. But like others here, the money's not why I do it...
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#2274786 - 02/17/11 10:01 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Aidan]
D-Bon Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/30/06
Posts: 8035
Loc: Brooklyn
Anyone interested in Jimmy Swaggart's Prophet-10?

Can I get a "Hallelujah!"?

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#2274799 - 02/17/11 10:29 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Synthoid]
cnegrad Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/09/03
Posts: 3241
Loc: N.Carolina
P&W bands are usually formed to serve a particular home church. Any "outside" performances are secondary to the main role of serving that home church. I've not heard of a non-recording band that exists without church affiliation, for the purpose of making an income "gigging out". In my experience, that would not be a reliable source of income. Ymmv....

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#2274803 - 02/17/11 10:29 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: D-Bon]
mate stubb Offline
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Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 11904
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#2274810 - 02/17/11 10:35 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: mate stubb]
Bill H. Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 3327
Loc: Columbia River Gorge, US
Auctioning off your Prophet 10 would make any grown man cry!

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#2274812 - 02/17/11 10:37 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Dave E]
Synthoid Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 6853
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: Dave E
I was the MD at a televised mega-church for about ten years. Three services a week with total attendance of about 11,000. There are 15 guys in the morning band - all paid and everybody reads well - and about 125 in a volunteer choir. Rhythm section guys make about $350 for all three services, horn players maybe $125 for 2. I was full time and made pretty good bread: I probably averaged more than $70K a year.


freak

I assume you were playing/working more than just Sundays?
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#2274814 - 02/17/11 10:38 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: mcgoo]
Bobadohshe Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 4688
Loc: San Diego / Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: mcgoo

The Lakewood music that came out of the partnership of Cindy Cruse Ratcliff & Israel Houghton plain & simply rocks. Some very fine music period, regardless of your beliefs!


Yup, that's why I said the music rocks.

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#2274817 - 02/17/11 10:40 AM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: mate stubb]
D-Bon Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/30/06
Posts: 8035
Loc: Brooklyn
Originally Posted By: mate_stubb

"I am SO sorry... but the p***y was SO good!"

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#2274904 - 02/17/11 02:56 PM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: D-Bon]
MAJUSCULE Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 2807
Loc: Edmonton, Alberta
Thanks for the insight, guys. I'm not looking to make money or get into this side, it was really only curiosity.
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Website
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#2274907 - 02/17/11 03:03 PM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: MAJUSCULE]
Theo Verelst Online   sleepy
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 2244
At least the mention of mr. Swaggart does justice to the idea of the type of music being mentioned in this thread, and I'd have to say it is among to top, along with the good traditionals, I suppose he's also at the top of list of record bestsellers, or is that more like 80s info I'm still having? Not for nothing connected with one of the true gods of piano-rock.

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#2274909 - 02/17/11 03:05 PM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Synthoid]
Dave E Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 504
Loc: San Antonio, TX
Originally Posted By: Synthoid
Originally Posted By: Dave E
I was the MD at a televised mega-church for about ten years. Three services a week with total attendance of about 11,000. There are 15 guys in the morning band - all paid and everybody reads well - and about 125 in a volunteer choir. Rhythm section guys make about $350 for all three services, horn players maybe $125 for 2. I was full time and made pretty good bread: I probably averaged more than $70K a year.


freak

I assume you were playing/working more than just Sundays?


Oh yeah... between 40 and 50 hours a week. I was the staff arranger.

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#2274911 - 02/17/11 03:10 PM Re: Worship/Praise/Church bands [Re: Dave E]
Synthoid Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 6853
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: Dave E
Originally Posted By: Synthoid
Originally Posted By: Dave E
I was the MD at a televised mega-church for about ten years. Three services a week with total attendance of about 11,000. There are 15 guys in the morning band - all paid and everybody reads well - and about 125 in a volunteer choir. Rhythm section guys make about $350 for all three services, horn players maybe $125 for 2. I was full time and made pretty good bread: I probably averaged more than $70K a year.


freak

I assume you were playing/working more than just Sundays?


Oh yeah... between 40 and 50 hours a week. I was the staff arranger.


Thanks. I was curious, since many pastors don't even make $70,000 a year.
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