Dear Supporters and friends,
This personal letter to you is something I've intended to write for some time now,
but have been hesitant to do so for various reasons. It addresses a controversy and
an ongoing fan debate that I would have preferred to stay out of, but which seems
to me now to be a crucial problem which I sincerely believe needs to be personally
A few months back I had a conversation with Mike Roe in which he confirmed something
I'd suspected for quite some time. "You know Terry, many of our fans are under the
mistaken impression that guys like us are rolling in money, and that we are living
the romantic and carefree lives of rock stars." The operative word here is "many."
Certainly most of you know that this couldn't be further from the truth and scoff
at such an absurdity. I've been aware for some time of the ongoing debate about
file sharing, and the various rationales concerning the duplication of my work
within our little circle of supporters. I don't plan on addressing to any great
extent every aspect of this issue, and I don't expect that this letter will
necessarily end the debate, but I am hoping that the more thoughtful among you
will at least prayerfully consider what is being said. The essential uniqueness
of our relationship (it seems to me) is the real thing to consider when taking
a position in this important matter. If you were simply "fans/consumers" and I
was just another greedy artist, then I wouldn't expect my appeal to you to fall
on anything but deaf ears. I consider you to be much more than this, however,
and I trust you see me as more than just a singer/songwriter. Our relationship
goes far beyond these limited descriptions. I believe we have a great and enduring
bond… that we are in fact a family.
This being said, let me get to the pragmatics of the matter. It is essential
that you understand that you are directly responsible for the financing
of many of our projects, and most certainly any future projects. We don't have
big budget record companies supporting us any more. Christian radio virtually
ignores us. Christian bookstores, for all intents and purposes, don't stock us.
In other words, we exist solely on the basis of your financial support directly
through our web sales. This makes you an essential partner with us. Without you,
our little store shuts down and our output grinds to a halt. For me, production
work is rare and touring is sporadic. My personal income is wildly inconsistent,
and although in most of my past years I've been able to make a moderate living,
it's getting tougher and tougher to do so. In fact, I'm fortunate most months
if I can pay my rent on time. Don't get me wrong. This isn't a "whoa is me"
plea. I am blessed beyond measure in countless ways, and God is indeed good.
You guys have been loyal and in many cases sacrificial. The web-store is very
much like a ma and pop store, in that it is totally dependent upon our loyal
customers. Your willingness to sometimes pay a little more for our stuff than
you do for the stuff offered by the conglomerate down the street, is what keeps
us in business. Recently, here in my town, a little ma and pop corner video/dvd
store was forced to shut down because of Blockbuster. I loved that little store.
They had movies I could never get anywhere else, and now they're gone. The same
happened to a wonderfully atmospheric local family owned and operated coffee shop.
Starbucks moved in and ate it up. I believe that like that little video store,
we offer you guys something you can't get anywhere else, and I want to continue
to do so. Without your loyal patronage, the bottom line is, we're finished. This
is the absolute reality of the situation. When you, the fan and supporter, buys
something from the web-store you are participating in something much more profound than a simple commercial transaction. I think the music we
produce really does mean something to people. At times it is life altering and
in this sense it is truly a "ministry." You know that this is true because you
probably wouldn't be a part of this little circle of loyal supporters and struggling
artists unless the music hadn't spoken to you in a unique, spiritually rich and
imaginative way. I can't do any of it without you. I'm not asking you to "send
money and support the ministry with your tax-deductible gifts." I'm asking you
to purchase generously from the web-store and in return you'll continue to receive
the very best music that our musical family has to offer. This is music that
costs real dollars to make (musicians, engineers, manufacturers, etc.), and
before we make even the slightest profit, those bills must get paid.
Someone recently drew my attention to a fans complaint about the cost of our CDs;
"I pay less for a Wallflowers CD, and they're a major band!" I really had to laugh
at the utter naïveté of this complaint. It is precisely because they are a major
band that a Wallflowers album costs less to purchase. The more CD's that are
manufactured, the lower the cost, and since our CD's are limited in quantity,
we naturally pay a higher price for manufacturing. Anyone going into a bookstore
knows that the new John Grisham paperback is going to be four or five dollars
less than say a paperback edition of Graham Green's "Power and the Glory" because
of the manufacturing ratio. Let me say that whenever it's possible to keep the
costs down for the fans, we have been more than willing to do so, and that is
why the decision was made to keep "Mr. Buechner's Dream" at a single CD price,
(despite it being a double CD), even though it cost us more to record and
manufacture than most anything else we've created so far. I wish we could make
this kind of sacrifice every time we put out a record, but unfortunately the
simple economics of the situation dictate otherwise. The fact is, our debts
have often been greater than our profits, and we are always playing "catch up."
I'm not being melodramatic when I say we've come several times to what appeared
to be the end of the road. God willing, and with your ongoing support, we will
continue to offer you new music, DVDs, box-sets, limited editions, etc. But
again, we need your help desperately. Most of our profits go right back into
doing new things. In other words, you are literally financing the next project.
Finally, let me say that the vast majority of you have been loyal and generous
fans, friends, and supporters for which this letter is fairly unnecessary. You
have gone beyond the call of duty, and words cannot express my personal
indebtedness to you. You have been gracious and understanding when we've hit
a few snags, and you are wise to the economics of our situation and have the
keen sense that this is indeed a "partnership" that goes far beyond a merely
commercial enterprise. God bless you all, and a thousand 'thank yous' for all
that you've helped us accomplish thus far. Because of you and God's faithfulness,
we will continue to do what we do, and do it better than ever. I'm convinced
it's going to be a fun and fulfilling year, and I want you to know that we've
got a few surprises for you along the way.
Bless you in advance for making it possible.
Yours Under the Mercy,
Terry Scott Taylor