How did AMTC get to this point?
Justifiably, donors may ask, “How did AMTC, a 35-year-old company, fall into such a financial shortfall?"
As you might guess, we could list many reasons. Four key ones might surprise you:
They say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Well, in our 35-year history, AMTC has been 'imitated' over 25 times by former associates who left to form their own conferences. Not to mention outsiders. At this point, most have faded away, but some are still in existence. To make matters worse, many charged high prices, used unscrupulous sales tactics and/or the events they produced were not well done. Therein, the business model we invented was copied and dirtied again and again… so talent conventions (in general) grew to have a bad reputation throughout the U.S.
- About 5 years ago, K-Love, the largest Christian radio network in the U.S., was AMTC's primary means of advertising. Many large cities, like Chicago, are K-Love markets.
About that time, a handful of people complained to K-Love about us. They came to AMTC searches without doing any homework. They thought we were an agency or casting service. In the information session, they heard “talent development” and “tuition.” Because of them, K-Love disallowed all future ads. We appealed to them. We invited their reps to see a search and SHINE itself (to understand our mission and how God was involved), but they declined.
- From that point forward, marketing got harder and more expensive. We tried direct outreaches to churches, but we were ignored. Yes, we have wonderful pastors who have come to and through SHINE, but the majority of church and faith-based doors stayed closed.
- At the same time internet attacks against AMTC increased, largely from Christians who did not know us/disagreed with the mission. Potential performers were scared away.
Enrollments steadily decreased. At the same time, AMTC's overhead and the prices for the media we purchased increased.
Our heart to serve never changed. In fact, it increased. In the last 3 years, we tried decreasing our tuition and this year, offering regional events that were shorter and easier to attend. We hoped this outreach would increase AMTC's enrollment, but it did not. Yes, we’ve found wonderful performers. Our success stories have never been greater, but our bank account has never been smaller.
NOTE: Please understand our ministry employees make modest salaries. At this point, I've stopped taking a salary. Adam She reduced his. No one serves in AMTC for wealth or perks, except for the biggest perk of all: working for God in a field you love that is ripe for harvest.
2nd NOTE: Have we made some wrong business decisions? Or could some aspects of AMTC's administration have been done better? Certainly. We can look back and see how we could have done some things differently. But I (Carey) can honestly say, no decisions in AMTC have been made with selfishness or avarice. All were made with a heart to serve God and the performers He entrusted to our care.