The Millionaire Artist

I was going through the forums at AcaNetwork [Great network, email me to get in], and a topic piqued my interest. There was/is a discussion centering around whether there could ever be a millionaire artist originating in the church of Christ. Well, my first thought was of course, what about Brandy? Okay, seriously, my thought was, there is always that possibility, and then, my immediate thought led me to research [that’s just what we do here].

Well, first a quick lesson in Marketing:

The first thing you’re taught in business school, or even high school marketing classes for that matter is the Marketing Mix; Product, Price, Place & Promotion. Now, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to just assume that all things are equal here, that being, the artist is of magnificent quality, that the overall market can bare another music artist, and that there is indeed an audience for said artist.

I previously brought up the idea of the Marketing Mix because there is an inherent lacking in one area that would prohibit the millionaire artist idea; Place. Place, that is, the proper distribution channels necessary to accomodate demand for the product being offered. Once a clear barrier for any artist outside of the industry model, now not so much. But, once again, for the purposes of this posting, I’ll assume that this could be worked out.

So, you want to be a millionaire Christian acappella music artist? Well, let’s play with some semantic ideals first. Let’s assume:

  • This entire journey is going to take place as a mechanism for one album – We’re not counting cumulative success, nor are we looking at the basis of longevity.
  • The Million Dollars is Gross – I think it gets confusing when we start looking at the US Tax Code, or if we look at post expense net capital functions [see, that already sounds drawn out]
  • We’re looking at a single artist – Groups are great, but a little research will uncover the fact that in gospel music the biggest acts are solo artists who generally hire local nightly talent while touring.

There are so many that assume that the road to a million dollars is going to come by selling a million albums. Not Gonna Happen. The reality is that the road to building a million is going to begin with an immaculately planned strategic ground game, meaning, there is going to have to be, somewhere in your organization, an immensely talented marketing strategist working in the background along with a worldclass support team.

Album Sales

More realistic is thinking plan first. There are fifty states in the continental United states, but we’re only going to work with 40 of them. Any 40, you pick. Now, in each state we’re going to concentrate on selling 1000 albums which is going to give us a total sold of 40,000 albums sold. Now, if we look at the going rate in the church of Christ of $15.00, the, let’s look at the numbers:

40,000 albums sold x $15.00 = $600,000.00

Well, we’re already 60% of the way there. This is all assuming that you hit your maximum amount sold in every state. In every state you would have had to have sold 1000 cd’s.

$1,000,000 – $600,000= $400,000 remaining

Gate Revenue

Now, this is where the real work begins. Remember, we’re looking to build this million with this one album campaign, so, we need to create supplemental income around the album. The most likely route is the touring route. The idea here is to be proactive and plan the concerts yourself, controlling the gate and setting your own revenue model.

For this model, we’ll suppose that, of the 1000 in each state who purchased the album, around 56% end up attending the concert.

1000 x 55.56% = 555 attendees

Now, it doesn’t matter how the 555 get broken down, be it 2, 3, or 100 concerts in each state, but, the price must be set at a constant $15.00 rate. At this rate we’ll be looking at a gate of $8,325 in each state.

555 attendees x $15.00 admission= $8325.00

Quantify this in the 40 states and it adds up rather quickly.

$8325.00 (gate) x 40 states = $330,000

Now, if we’ve been good stewards and haven’t been dipping into the cookie jar, you should have a substantial amount of income from album sales and touring

$600,000 (album sales) + $330,000 (touring)= $933,000.00 gross

Okay, so now we’re at $933,000 with a somewhat modest base (by general standards) of 40,000 fans. Let’s see where we’re at on the road to millionairedom [new word!]

$1,000,000.00 – $933,000.00 = $67,000.00


With $67,000.00 left to accumulate on the road to millionaire status, merchandise is the most viable route and also the one least sought after in the real market of Christian acappella music. Sure, every artist puts out the $15 cd, and everyone goes out on the road, but, how many actually have extension items [souvenirs] ready for distribution? Looking back at our concert formula with 555 attendees in each state, we need only 66 of those to purchase a souvenir t-shirt at the ever modest rate of $15.00 each.

$15.00 T-shirt cost x 66 purchasers = $990.00

We can expect to generate $990.00 in each state we tour in, but remember, we’re quantifying this by the 40 states we tour in.

$990.00 shirt revenue x 40 = $39,600.00

After we add these numbers up, we are now even closer to achieving our stated goal.

$933,000.00 gross + $39,600 added revenue= $972,600.00

And then we subtract….

$1,000,000.00 – $972,600.00 = $27,400

27,400! This is where it get’s kind of interesting. Why? simply put, if we were to reverse things and follow the current standard of pressing a thousand albums and selling them at the standard rate of $15, and if we did a concert say, every other weekend, covering costs and taking home a tad less than $500 for each show, then this is the number we’d be looking at come years end, and in truth, this is more realistic than the million dollar number, but, since we’re here to build a model, let’s look at the last component.

With 27k and change left to generate, we look to the time tested tradition of the poster. I mean, when I was a kid I had nothing but Four Christian Stars posters in room, but then again, I got them for free and i generally drew on the back of them. But, for most people, the Poster is a great way to commemorate the experience

At the current industry rate, we’re going to say that 18% of all concert attendees will purchase a poster, or about 100 in each state. If we set the price at a very marginally sound $6.00, then we can expect about $600 at each location. Once again, we’re looking to quantify here, so..

100 sold x $6.00= $600.00 x 40 (states)= $24,000

Current tally

$972,600.00 current gross + $24,000= $996,600.00

And Furthermore, The remaining amount.//

$1,000,000 – $996,600.00= $3,400.00

Money left on the table

Well, we end with $3,400.00 needing to be accumulated. Why haven’t I build a function to gain this money? I think we should leave a little amount that would most likely be gained through appearance fees or some other function not seen here. One would have to suggest that If you came this close to $1 million dollars in a year, that you would probably end up finding a bevy of ways to accumulate other revenues, be it through the sale of ringtones, of through licensing or publishing, or most likely through extended album sales.


So, what have we learned throughout this whole thing? Well, the question of whether it can happen is an astounding yes. The more realistic question is whether it would happen given the fact that it hasn’t been done. The more appropriate question, even still, is whether there will be an artist who will take the time and effort to actually attempt to build a grassroots effort that would bring any legitimate amount of success?

What Do You Think?

I'm Zo. Disciple. Lefty. Communications Strategist. Crafter of Messages. Proud Florida Gulf Coast University alum. #MBA. Jude 1:25 | Let's Go Heat!

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