Church drummers Pay

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I get paid sometimes when I play at my church. The pastor has offered to put me on paid staff many times, but I’d rather keep it as a volunteer thing. The only time they pay me is when they bring in other pro players and we perform as a group.


Senior Member
They pay the musicians in both churches I play. We have both rehearsals and services. One is an African-American Catholic Church where I’m the only white person (lots of loud, fun music) and the other is a mostly white Methodist church (acoustic stuff with a cajon). They don’t pay the choir though.


Silver Member
A local church pays $75 you have to be there early AF Sunday morning for rehearsal and then there's two services, there's a kit ready to go and the songs are pretty simple. Not bad for a few hours of work.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
As soon as you say “live TV”, is t this some kind of union issue at this point? I’m sure the American Federation of Musicians have some kind of guideline for this, or are church’s exempt from having to pay union scales? This would be something to research.


Gold Member
As soon as you say “live TV”, is t this some kind of union issue at this point? I’m sure the American Federation of Musicians have some kind of guideline for this, or are church’s exempt from having to pay union scales? This would be something to research.
cha-ching 💲


Senior Member
Consider this:
1) If you're a member of the congregation, how much of a discount are you willing to give to help your church? Is the joy of playing and contributing to the service(s) worth getting paid less (or none at all in some cases)? If the answer is that it's worth it, then you need to determine the value of your time based on that discount.


2) Regardless of being a member of the church or not, if you're looking at this as a hired gun scenario (even if it's a regular gig), then you need to determine what your hourly rate for rehearsals and performances is.

The earlier suggestion about a plumber isn't off-base. You're providing a service and deserve to be compensated. As an aside, my group is asked to do performances for free or at a substantial discount (sometimes insultingly low pay) and when someone says, "Well, we're a non-profit." I tell them, "I'd be one too if I played for what you offered." -ok, I've actually only said that out loud once but have thought it dozens of times.


Senior Member
I’ve played in church practically my whole life and have been paid since I was about 15 or so. My current church pays my on the 1st & 15th by direct deposit. Just about everyone I know who plays in church get paid on some level.


Senior Member
I had no idea churches paid. I figured all were dedicated parishioners. How naive am I.
It can be a really good "gig" - I know a lot of drummers that I just assumed were religious that turns out had to audition and got the gig and had absolutely nothing to do with the church.

Well "a lot" being 5-6 - but it's still more than I thought. No idea what the pay is.


Platinum Member
I wonder how this shook out. I did some church gigs ~7-8 years ago, and I think it paid $100-125 per service? I don't remember-- it wasn't terrible money, not great either. Room might have held 500, probably 150-200 attended. Not really worth it, since I had to sit through their whole service. I did a Unitarian easter service a while back that paid ~$150 and was a lot of fun.

Trip McNealy

Gold Member
Cool topic - I also had no idea some churches paid their musicians! In my part of NJ the churches [at least of the Roman Catholic faith] really don't have church bands, not even choirs, on the regular so I've been pretty naive to it.

I'd say if I was in a position to drum for services and I was asked my "rate", I'd probably ask for the same $$ amount I get playing a Fri or Sat night local cover band gig - I figure the audience size is about the same and caliber of musicianship required to get through. If the congregation was really large (600+) then maybe ask for a little more.


Senior Member
I play drums for a church that's televised and I'm in a position to renegotiate my pay. One Wednesday rehearsal and two services on Sunday (one of which is live on local TV and online).

Curious what you think would be a fair amount.
My best guess would be 75 dollars per hour for a good drummer and 200 an hour for a pro.



Platinum Member
There are several ways to view it. Whatever it's worth to you, or whatever you think is fair, or whatever you can milk them for. I've done church services for free for friends, and I've also been paid 4x my normal rate. I had a great church gig for a few years where I played drums AND ran sound (set it and forget it--yeah, I know, I know...), and got paid double duty.

So, is this your church home? Do you enjoy it? Do you see playing for the service as (partially) an act of service? Do you see it as just another gig? Is the gig a hassle to you? Do you despise showing up every week? These are all things to consider.


Platinum Member
Throughout the 1990's/early 2000's, I played at a church for 10 years. At its peak, I played 8 times every Sunday:

Early morning practice
3 morning services
P&W rehearsal in the afternoon for Wednesday service
College praise band rehearsal
Sunday night service
After-church rehearsal for just the musicians

Needless to say, I burned out.

Joined another church and their praise band. Played there another 10 years. Our church started running 3 morning services as well. I got paid in gear, not money, to teach lessons which wasn't a bad deal, and I was once given a $100 gift card after a super-massive Christmas program that I about killed myself over. I think we ran the program 5-6 times that year. Also during the 1990's and early 2000's, I was in probably at least a half dozen other Christian-based bands that traveled on weekends and I got to tour a little as well.

I quit my praise team this past February, and now I only play for money in 2-3 bands I play with now. I'm not bitter towards the whole church music thing, but I'm just tired of the P&W culture and how cliquish it's become.

To the OP: if you can get paid to play at church, I say go for it. Find out how much everyone else gets paid, and negotiate from there.


Platinum Member
Same here. It lost a lot of joy once worship leaders inflated their egos.
The vast majority of egos I've had to deal with over the years are other church musicians and singers, not necessarily the leader (well, maybe just one). So many do it to be seen. I've worked with some terrific people in the church, and many of them I love dearly; however, right now I just can't deal.

In my heart, I really want the desire to do it again, but I'm so tired in so many ways, I don't know if I'll ever go back which is really sad.