by Steve Eulberg
I can’t remember the first time I heard the phrase “Mailbox Money” but it has become a surprisingly encouraging experience.
Many years ago (in the mid 1990s), when I was a pastor and shepherding my youth for a week at the Mid-Missouri Bible Camp in the Ozarks, I had taken some pieces of mail with me from C.C.L.I. (Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc.)
These were contracts offered to help worship music composers (like me) to receive income from the communities and congregations who would choose to use my music all over the United States and Canada.
I couldn’t imagine how this could work and part of me assumed that this might be some kind of scam, but it was long before I had any real connection to the internet, and besides, no one was using it very much anyway. Fax machines were the rage, and neither I, nor my small inner-city church, had one.
I patiently (and laboriously) read through every word and paragraph of every page of the contracts, mostly understanding the legalese (although Greek or Hebrew might have been easier!), and chose, in the end, to affix my signature.
I remember showing these contracts to my friends and colleagues who were there with me who were encouragingly impressed.
I was the musician for the week and they were pretty encouraging, but I was preparing to send these documents off in “faith” or what might more accurately be described as a pipe dream.
I mailed the signed and initialed documents in.
Later I received contracts for agreements that covered other countries (South Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia & New Zealand.)
Finally, I started to receive semi-annual reports…that INCLUDED CHECKS! The surprise of mailbox money was producing joy in my life!
So this week was the week that I received the semi-annual report and payment and once again I am touched by this gentle “surprise” in compensation.
But what truly gives me pause and a sense of awe, are the reports that people have used music that I have composed and published, in their worship services in: England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and all across the United States of America. And even more impressive is that the annual licenses they purchased to support the composers, and their careful reporting actually sent compensation to me, which means that I receive more mailbox money to help me to continue to create and share music.