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How To Become A Christian Recording Artist
A few friends have asked me to make a list of things they need to do in order to make a living in Christian music. So, below you will find my personal opinion on what you need to do to be successful. Let me warn you that these are just my thoughts and are not the only way to be successful. There are always exceptions to the rule. However, these things worked for me, so I’ll share what I know. I won’t do anything, I’m sorry if you get offended easily. Before we begin, let’s debunk a few myths.
Myth #1 If I had a record to support me, I could work full time
So, yes, so wrong. I have a better idea, take out all your credit cards, take out huge loans, borrow money from your family, and live off of it while you build a career in music. What? No takers? Why not? In fact, that’s exactly what you’re doing with tags. You are living on money that is not yours. When you’re going on tour to support your new CD, guess where the proceeds go? It will pay you back what you paid to live on. I’ll say it this once, STOP HITTING THE CONTRACT! I have done this for years. When I finally stopped and focused on making my music my business, the record deal found me. It would be silly to offer you a no-name band anyway. Go out and sell 10,000 copies of the self-produced demo and then we can talk about a record deal. Until then, keep quiet and play.
Myth #2 I can just play church / Christian events and survive
How do I put it? Christians are cheap! In most cases, Christians will not provide you with the financial support you need to survive. It will vary from region to region, but everyone thinks the ministry is free. Be careful how you present yourself to avoid being pigeonholed here. You can be a Christian artist or a Christian artist. When the music plays itself and the opportunity arises, share what’s in your heart. If you try to claim that you are only a Christian artist, you won’t be able to play enough to survive.
I can make more money playing cover songs in a bar for 3 hours and getting love offerings from 200 people. Shocked? Don’t be. It’s sad but true. Be open to playing where you need it and where your message is needed. If churches can’t support themselves financially, how can they support you? Research shows that 2% of churchgoers are tithes (a full 10%). These are not things I want to bet on my family’s well-being.
Top 5 list:
1) Be competent
I’ve heard Billy Joel say that the reason he’s been successful for so long is because he’s talented. Most musicians are not as skilled as they could be, so they flow faster. If singing is your thing, take lessons, improve, learn and practice! The same can be said about your device. If you’re just playing, OK isn’t good enough for a full-time job. A lot of mediocre musicians are performing for free, making it difficult for you to make a living. So, be better! Better. The reverse side of this is the acceptance of Truth. If your parents say you’re great, get a second opinion. When strangers come up to you when they hear you play and listen to your music, now you’re talking!
2) Be unique
There are many good actors. What sets you apart from the pack? Is this your style of song? Is your guitar playing? It has to be what makes you, you! Whether it’s using a loop, a different tuning, a specific look, or something else; Ask people to observe and see what they are going to do next. A great resource for creating unforgettable moments is the Tom Jackson Workshop. I’ve been homeschooled by Tom for 4 years now and go to it regularly. I make my set list according to his formula. Guess what, it works! You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to research and study wisely. Find yourself before you find others.
3) Make a great post
So you’ve trained hard, prepared a great show, and created memorable moments, now what? If you do these things well enough, others will want to remember them too. You need your own video. This is the first real key to Full Time. Good footage will get you gigs, bad footage won’t. Will you be recording in your home studio or going to a bigger studio? Good question. In my experience, most of us don’t have good home recording skills. Note that good equipment does not equal good recording. You can have all the bells and whistles, but if you don’t know how to use them, you’re wasting money.
I had great equipment at home, but I had no idea how to use it to its full potential. I sold them all and used that money to record with professionals. The results were amazing and allowed me to have a quality product that truly represented what I was hearing. I sent those CDs to venues and used them to make a book. There is no doubt that this has helped me in my full-time career. As for budget recording, if you have $1,000 as a recording budget, make fewer songs with better production. A great three-song demo is worth far more than an average 12-song LP. If yours is good quality, you’ll sell them for $5 each. Outstanding quality will attract industry attention. Any prayer like radio play only works if the quality is good!
4) Being a publicity hound
You should use every opportunity to promote yourself. Even the smallest opportunities lead to bigger and better plays. I started playing everywhere, parties, churches, youth groups, restaurants, charity events, business functions, bars, prisons. Have a good guide to give people. Places like Club Flyers can print thousands of postcards and posters for you at very low prices. Use these to give to everyone in the game. If there’s another band in your area playing the same style as you, go to the concert and hand out materials when people leave the venue. What?! Commando style? Yes, an attack on your future audience. Don’t be an ass. Use your head, be enthusiastic and invite people to your next gig. Go to your local radio station and offer to play at their upcoming event. They often host fun-loving charity events. You have to find it. If you can afford it, hire someone like Ariel Hyatt at Ariel Publicity. He does a really great job for about a thousand dollars in a 3 month ad campaign. In the world of advertising, it’s cheap. He has access to media, reviews, radio plays and is a wealth of knowledge to help you promote yourself. He played us live on Sirius Satellite Radio! One thing’s for sure, if you’re expecting a flood of opportunities, you’re not full-time material. I’m sorry.
5) Think outside the box
This phrase is overused, but it’s true. I have done several things that many people would never have thought of to survive. For example, I used to play at the Holiday Inn once a month at their restaurant/bar. I played over 40 covers in 3 hours. As I agreed, they paid me with Priority Points. These insider points are ridiculous money for a hotel. Giving 20-30,000 points is nothing for them. But you can stay for 2-3 days for free at any Holiday Inn. This is very valuable when you are on tour. Cost containment is the key to success. For hotels, this is free entertainment. For you, it’s free lodging.
A win-win situation for everyone. I also played a lot of coffeehouses in the US. One of the coffees I played with was a roaster, meaning they roast their own beans and make their own brand. I offered to bring samples of their coffee to all the houses I played at. If coffee is ordered at the venue, the roaster covers my accommodation and travel meals. Pretty sweet isn’t it? What is needed is the mother of invention.
If you really want to make your life successful, all of the above will help you. However, if you don’t want to risk all that, don’t worry. I don’t want to rain on your parade, I understand we all have responsibilities. But if God has a true calling on your life, nothing can stand in your way. It’s too easy to make excuses. I have done this for years. And I was miserable playing half-time and experiencing small successes. Every second I felt disobedient, not doing what God had put on my heart. If you don’t feel the same indescribable pain in your heart, the pain that affects everything in your life, work, marriage, relationships, etc.
A full-time job is not for you. And you know, it’s okay. If God calls you to part-time ministry, accept the truth. Make the most of it. You cannot force God’s will. But for those who know, it’s all or nothing. I greet you and ask God to give you the courage to answer the call and leave all reason behind. See you on the way!
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