Monday, September 19, 2016

2 Easy Steps to a Long Music Career

I recently shared a warm beverage with a young man who is absolutely killing it by booking and marketing his band. He said his goals were to be doing this in twenty years. I said, “You know how you do that?” He asked how. I said, “You keep doing it for 20 years.”

Millennials like this young man are very talented, very driven, and extremely ready to get going with their career. They have been online since they were born, and have gathered information from around the world via computer their whole life. They are smart.

But sometimes they don’t understand that even though they have advanced knowledge, that doesn’t lead to having an instant career. You still have to put in the years of work like everyone else who has had a great career has done.

This applies in every type of work, but it really seems to hit home with music. I would say that half or more of the work that I get as a musician, producer, or whatever is from people who call me and ask me if I still do music. The fact that I do it is how I actually get music work.

Many folks I meet who would like to have a career in music haven’t even sung yet! They have never recorded, taken a class, or even made any effort to talk to anyone before me. They just know they like music and think it would be neat to have a career.

So there’s the first step to a career in music.

Start Doing It

“If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” – David Viscott

Seriously, start doing it right now. Send an email, get working with someone, get started on a music project, or get out there with your music. This young man I was talking about will have done 85 shows this year. He’s still hungry for more, and wants that the rest of his life.

In order to have a career you have to start one!

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

So, what if you have already been doing music, maybe for years? Ok, here’s the biggest secret I can reveal in the music business. Are you ready? This is absolutely the one thing that those who have had a long career in music have done that others who fell by the wayside did not. It’s the one thing that I see musicians, artists, songwriters, engineers, etc. do repeatedly that kills a promising music career.

Don’t Quit

“Most people who succeed in the face of seemingly impossible conditions are people who simply don’t know how to quit.” – Robert H. Schuller

I have worked with lots of people over my career that I have been musicians, singers, players, songwriters, engineers, or some other musical thing. The only thing that is different about me and what I do and those who don’t do it anymore is that they stop doing it. Mostly it’s because they found out how hard it is, how extremely difficult it is to make a living in music. Or maybe they just didn’t think it was the right life for them.

“I’m interested in that thing that happens where there’s a breaking point for some people and not for others. You go through such hardship, things that are almost impossibly difficult, and there’s no sign that it’s going to get any better, and that’s the point when people quit. But some don’t.”
–Robert Redford

Living as a musician and making that your life is very challenging. It’s not the first thing a banker wants to see on your application for a loan. Parents will look at you and wonder if there isn’t something else you could do to make money. Even my dad, who was a musician and was my number one fan wanted me to going to business in college. He worked at IBM for 33 years and just thought that was a smart move. (I luckily did quit this path because I was terrible at all business classes.)

So there you go, my main two pieces of advice for how to have a long music career. Start a music career. Don’t quit your music career. If you’re laughing and think it’s not that easy then go ahead and quit. I’ll see you in 20 years. And yes I’ll still be doing music.

“The truth will only be told over a career.” – Richard Linklater

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is a music producer, songwriter, leader of creatives, and has been for almost 40 years because he just won’t quit. If you’re ready to start, restart, or continue your Christian music career, check out Creative Soul. Our goal is to prepare and guide Christian artists and songwriters. Find out more at CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, August 14, 2016

When Someone Crushes Your Dream

“Don’t give up. There are too many nay-sayers out there who will try to discourage you. Don’t listen to them. The only one who can make you give up is yourself.” – Sidney Sheldon

Who has ever been glad later in their life that somebody blew up their dreams early on? The answer: Nobody.

There seems to be an overriding theory in the music industry that unless you are amazing and great (in their eyes) then there is no place for you. In fact, maybe it might be better if you just do music as a hobby, and quit muddying up the waters for everyone else. Go be a good spouse, parent, worker, and do your music in your own little world. God obviously didn’t call you to be a music professional.

Listen, if God isn’t calling you to be a music pro in the “music industry”, who the heck cares. Do what I did. If the industry says you don’t fit, build your own industry!

There’s one thing that is missing in this whole thing: a little word called ministry.

People ask me all the time, where is the talent line where you tell people they aren’t good enough to go out and minister in music. My answer is simple. There is no line.

“The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 'Thus far and no farther.'“ - Ludwig van Beethoven

First of all, no one can tell you what God’s calling is for your life. Only you can know if God has called you to minister for Him. How you decide to do it may be based on how people react to what you are doing. You will know that you should do something if people like what you are doing. Likewise, you will be able to tell if you are not reaching people with something you are doing.

Second, your level of talent is not only a bad determining factor in how successful you will be in music ministry, it’s completely subjective. One industry person may not like your voice, but a lady may hear you on Facebook and break into tears, and your song may change her eternity! Where does talent fall in that equation? Put that in your pipe and smoke it music industry!

So, when someone tells you that you shouldn’t be doing this, for whatever reason they think is valid, remember this post. Remember that they can’t know what God has called you for, and that your talent isn’t the only thing that defines your ministry.

Don’t ever let your dreams be limited by man. Let God determine and inspire your aspirations, your goals, and your dreams.

“Expect while reaching for the stars, people to whirl by with their dark clouds and storm upon you.” ― Anthony Liccione

Have a great week,

EC

You wouldn’t be reading this blog if Eric Copeland listened to others and didn’t decide to start his own consulting production, and marketing company specifically for Christian music ministries. Ready to get started with your Christian music ministry? Click here!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why We Must Market Our Music

There ought to be an artistic depot where the artist need only hand in his artwork in order to receive what he asks for. As things are, one must be half a business man, and how can one understand - good heavens! - that's what I really call troublesome. - Ludwig van Beethoven

It’s very simple to make music.

Even if you spend a good budget on a professional music product, with amazing photos and graphics, the “making the music part” is kind of easy. And to be honest, it’s super fun!!

But the hard part comes after you make your dream recording. You’ve got this awesome representation of your music and ministry, but how in the world do you let the world know about it? How do you get the music out to the masses?

“And then….depression set in.” – Bill Murray, Stripes

This is the one place many artists fall down, and truly where artists who you see doing well are excelling. Sure, you’d think its easy for a major label artist to be seen and heard because they have a label behind them! But the real reason they succeed is that the label puts gobs of money and huge effort in the marketing of the music, not just in the making of a product.

The Marketing Campaign

“Transforming a brand into a socially responsible leader doesn’t happen overnight by simply writing new marketing and advertising strategies. It takes effort to identify a vision that your customers will find credible and aligned with their values.” – Simon Mainwaring

Long before any album is released at a major label, there is a marketing plan being put in place. They have a radio plan, a publicity plan, a touring plan, a distribution plan, and certainly a strong online/social media plan.

Now, for indies, radio and publicity are more difficult since there is less of a national audience waiting for a product, and many times the artist is completely new and unknown. But we now have the tools to make a strong distribution and marketing effort if we will sink a little time into it.

It’s important to put together a plan to market your music and build an audience, and that is actually much easier (and cheaper) than you may think.

Some of the reason why we should market our music is we have these great tools they didn’t even have in the heyday of the music business.

1. Web Site

This may seem pretty much common sense, but building a web site, a blog, then putting together Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to point to them is key to any current marketing of music. This doesn’t have to be expensive actually. You can actually use WordPress or Bandzoogle to do this, and update it yourself. Getting someone to help with this should be simple if you are not savvy at this.

2. Social Media

“For the music business, social networking is brilliant. Just when you think it’s doom and gloom and you have to spend millions of pounds on marketing and this and that, you have this amazing thing now called fan power. The whole world is linked through a laptop. It’s amazing. And it’s free. I love it. It’s absolutely brilliant.” – Simon Cowell

Facebook makes it easy and kinda fun to boost your posts to get to more people. It’s a great way to reach people you know, and find new people who may like your music. As of the writing of this post, this is a good, solid way to spend promotional dollars. Posting a song to your Facebook Page, whether it’s from a blog post, YouTube, or SoundCloud can get real traction. And boosting the posts can be more effective and certainly more interactive than old school radio used to be.

You can also use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and more to build and serve an audience with your music. Here’s posts on Facebook, Twitter, and have ones upcoming on Instagram and LinkedIn.

3. Online Video

I have whole posts on this here and here, but will just say that I am seeing people have more success marketing with YouTube and Facebook than almost anything else. Video versions of your songs bring viewers and create interest in your music. It also lets you have more to put on your website, post to Facebook, Twitter, etc. So it actually feeds the other marketing tools almost automatically.

“Distribution has really changed. You can make a record with a laptop in the morning and have it up on YouTube in the afternoon and be a star overnight. The talent on YouTube is incredible, and it can spread like wildfire.” – Bonnie Raitt

4. Mailing List

So this seems like a no-brainer, but this is something that may be more effective than any of the marketing tools above. People may not check Facebook, their Twitter feed, or YouTube, but they will check their email daily.

Having a strong mailing list is the number one difference between artists that are touring, having sales, and other successes, and those who are not.

Services like MailChimp offer free services up to 2000 email addresses.

We really have no excuse not to market with all the tools (many of them free) that are available to us. It’s really about putting the time in to do the work, and that is just our choice of what we want to do with our time and what is important.

But there’s one more biggie for why we need to market our music…

5. The Ministry
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” – Mark 16:15

Oh yeah, the ministry part.

One of the amazing things about doing Christian music in the first place, and why I think it’s the most rewarding type of music to work in, is that our music can have eternalresults. It’s one of the things we talk a lot about around here, but we think it’s also the most important.

Marketing is our very own way to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Himself. If ever there was a reason to market our music…it’s that we have marching orders to get out there and take it to all creation.

So we best get started eh?

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is the president and head creative at Creative Soul, a consulting, production, and marketing company for Christian artists and songwriters. If you are ready to get your music out to the world, start right here.

“The evolution of social media into a robust mechanism for social transformation is already visible. Despite many adamant critics who insist that tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are little more than faddish distractions useful only to exchange trivial information, these critics are being proven wrong time and again.” – Simon Mainwaring

Other blog posts on this topic:

Social Media Marketing – The Facebook Page

Social Media Marketing – Video

Social Media Marketing – 3 Things to Know About Twitter

What to Post on Social Media

Youtube: The Best Tool You’re Probably Not Using Enough

What Really Works in Christian Music Marketing?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why I HATE Contests

"Competitions are for horses, not artists." - Bela Bartok

It seems like such a good idea doesn’t it?

A chance to see where you stand in relation to other artists and songwriters! For only a small fee! Sure, the odds are low, but what if you won? Wouldn’t that be just the thing to take your music or songwriting to the next level?

Surely God has put this contest in front of you for a reason! He wouldn’t have had you find that website, receive that email, or hear about the contest if He didn’t have a grand design in mind (well He actually might, but not the way you think when you enter! More on that below.)

Plus, you reason, even if you don’t win, think of all the valuable feedback you’ll receive! It’s a no-lose scenario!

While these all seem like great reasons to jump into the next American Idol, The Voice, or other singing or songwriting competition, here are the reasons I wish you wouldn’t.

1. It’s a Lottery

Competitions aren’t always based on talent. So you’re paying the fee to put this thing on with not much chance of winning. Some part of you knows this when you enter, but you don’t care.

But what if I won!?

Yes, then we start having the dreams, the fantasies about what could happen, and where this could go. Just like when you pay that dollar for the lottery, and dream about how you’d pay off all your bills and what you’d do with the money. But in this scenario, everyone whoever doubted your talent and drive would be wrong, and everyone who ever loved and supported you would be so happy (and oh yeah you could really do good work for God too.)

2. It Must Be God’s Will

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11

You know you probably won’t win when you enter, but if it’s a Christian competition, or something just seems to magically happen that allows you to enter, you feel like it must be God’s will that you get involved. Then you get in, and something happens where you just know it’s God’s will that you were involved.

Then maybe you do well, or move to a second round, or the finals and think, yes, this is God’s will.

Then you don’t win.

Everything stops making sense. Then comes the letdown, the sense of failure on this stage, the thought that maybe even God’s will is for you to do something else, that you’re not good enough.

Losing feels worse than winning feels good." - Vin Scully

If you get nothing else from this post, get this! Losing a contest that you entered (even if you feel it was God’s will) does not mean that you are not good enough to make music or minister for Him. It’s a specific contest looking for a specific thing that is predicated on the specific likes and dislikes of those who put the contest on, and “judge” what is good or bad. It has nothing to do with why God made you, gave you your specific talents, and put you on this earth.

Now, could it be God’s will that you went through this experience to direct you away from some things you have put as idols in this? Sure! Part of the reason you are reading this blog right now could stem from some of the contests I was involved in when I was starting my music career. Eventually getting told “No” enough pushed me to create my own music business focused on consulting and producing Christian artists and songwriters.

"If anything, you know, I think losing makes me even more motivated." - Serena Williams

3. Feedback Isn’t Always Helpful

"Critics only make you stronger. You have to look at what they are saying as feedback. Sometimes the feedback helps, and other times, it's just noise that can be a distraction." - Robert Kiyosaki

This is likely a whole other post, but while constructive criticism can be helpful, especially in songwriting, other words meant to help can be brutal and sometimes devastating. Even well-meaning godly industry people are only human, and in a moment of wanting to move on from a conversation, or even just being tired, or had a long day, can say something that scars an artist or songwriter forever.

I’ve had actual industry people tell artists I know and work with that they should just give up and do this as a hobby. NO ONE has the right to say that even in love. NO ONE but GOD can know who can improve with hard work and dedication to a craft. I have seen songwriters start with very meager songs, and turn out to be very good writers with cuts on their own and many other projects. I have known artists who weren’t very good singers, that have amazing music ministries. We all know some songwriter or artists we don’t care for, but many others love.

So the final word on contests? Well, I don’t like them very much.

If you have entered and won, then good for you. Has it changed your life? Maybe. But even lottery winners never envision the ways it will change their life for good, and bad.

If you have entered a singing or songwriting competition and lost, I’d like to hear from you in the comments below. I’d like to hear your story. How did it make you feel initially, and what have you learned from it?

Have a great week, and don’t forget to leave us comments below!

EC
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Eric Copeland lost a lot of competitions, had doors shut, and was told “No” many times, but God had a plan for him to work with many Christian music artists and songwriters and help them grow. For more info check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Music for Nothing?

For some reason, musicians the world over (maybe even more than other artistic people like authors or painters) have become obsessed with their music being “worth” something. That if they aren’t earning enough to pay their bills, and make a nice life, then music just isn’t even worth doing.

It’s probably due to the crazy 20th century and how the phonograph, album, and CD made billions of dollars for musicians and record companies for just over 100 years. But now that the internet has brought music to the world through cheap and free streaming, music folk are screaming that they aren’t getting paid enough.

I just read an article where Roger Daltrey of the Who said they weren't going to make a new album because it wouldn't make any money! 

“We've talked about it, but it's not going to be easy. There's no record industry anymore. Why would I make a record? I would have to pay to make a record. There's no royalties so I can't see that ever happening. There's no record business. How do you get the money to make the records? I don't know. I'm certainly not going to pay money to give my music away free. I can't afford to do that. I've got other things I could waste the money on.” – Roger Daltrey

Then maybe you should indeed waste your money on other things, Roger. I’m sure you have enough. Perhaps your music isn't important enough if you're only making it for financial gain.

To me that says, you don't want people to hear an artistic statement or even go to the trouble of making music if you don't get paid for it. That’s just sad.

That kind of thinking goes against not just art, but why God gave us our talents in the first place. He didn't say, “Here are talents to use for Me and share with the world…but only if YouTube and Spotify pay well!”

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I believe our talents are our voice, our gift to the world, and in ministry our evangelistic tools. Everyone deserves, maybe even needs, to hear them even if they only get to listen once or come across it in a Facebook feed.

Your music may never pay the bills, but it may save someone's eternal soul. What's the cost/benefit ratio there? Is it worth it if you bring happiness, fulfillment, joy, and possibly heaven to someone, even if you don’t get paid for it?

"If you can do anything else other than music, do that instead."  ― Well known music quote.

Those of us who do music consistently (and sometimes for an attempt at a living) do it because we can't NOT do it. We can't possibly shut it off, stop the music from coming out, or not want to share it with the world. 

For those of us like this, there is no way to wake up every day for the rest of our lives and just not do music.

What I'd say to Roger is, if you can quit doing music, then maybe you should go do other things. Who are you, indeed!

“There is hardly any money interest in art, and music will be there when money is gone.” – Duke Ellington

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland happens to make a living through music, but not necessarily his own. But he still makes what he feels he must and gets it out to the world. You can find out more at http://www.EricCopelandMusic.com

If you are a Christian artist ready to make music for a hurting world (despite what it may make you) check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com


Sunday, June 05, 2016

Social Media Marketing - 3 Things to Know About Twitter

So far in our Social Media series we have tackled Facebook and YouTube, how they are useful, and how they best work for music artists and songwriters. Now let’s look at the platform you either love or hate: Twitter.

Personally, I think Twitter is right up there with YouTube as the most effective marketing tool, especially when you are trying to find an audience whom you may not know personally. Sometimes it’s even easier to market to this audience since they are usually not family or friends.

“Twitter is a very simple and immediate broadcast platform. Facebook is very personal when it comes to friends and when it comes to fan pages, (but Twitter is) a little bit less but still somewhat personal way to communicate.” - Mark Cuban

Also, you can hit Twitter way harder on a daily basis than you can Facebook, as the Twitter feed goes by much faster and is less intrusive than Facebook.

So here are three basic things to know about Twitter for the artist or songwriter trying to get it working for them.

1.      It’s a Numbers Game

The way I think about Twitter is that there are two kinds of people on Twitter: the kind that read their stream, and the kind that don’t. The first kind look through their stream like we do our Facebook feed. They look for interesting things people say or post, more for entertainment value than because they personally know that person.

The problem is they aren’t looking at their feed 24 hours a day, and you can’t depend on them to see every post. And the folks that never check their stream or only look at it once in a while, are even harder to reach.

So it’s not out of bounds to post throughout the day to Twitter, like 4-6 times, maybe more. Mainly because someone might see a tweet they would have missed an hour ago.

I usually do 4-5 posts to Twitter a day. This ensures a good coverage of people will at least see one tweet I put out.

This random viewing of streams also means that we need LOTS of followers. The more the merrier.

2.      Getting Followers

The way to get followers is maddeningly simple. You follow people, and hope they follow you back. My usual practice is follow people but only up to the amount of followers I have. So if you have 100 followers, don’t follow more than 100 people. After about a week, use a tool like Crowdfire and unfollow those who didn’t follow you back. Then rinse and repeat. Every week.

Following this method, you’ll see a rapid rise in followers - but there is a caveat to this. In order to see people retweeting, liking, and following links on your tweets, you need to make sure they are people who would WANT to follow you in the first place. If you do Contemporary Worship, don’t follow someone who would hate that format. Or someone who you don’t know if they even would want to hear music in the first place. Read their description and see if you think they might you and your music, even IF they are followers of an artist just like you.

OK, so once you have followers, how do you reach them?

3.      How to Post to Twitter

Many people don’t get started on social media because the thought of logging in each day or hour to post to Facebook or Twitter seems ridiculous. Where would you have the time? What if I told you that I post to close to a dozen Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts every day and spend 15 minutes? Better yet, I do it the night before and don’t even have to do it through the day.

The way I do this is by using a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule to my various accounts each night before I go to bed. This is very easy and free for artists who only have one FB and Twitter account. Also these tools offer a weekly summary of who clicked on links, which posts got the most likes and shares, and much more.

The secret to posting to Facebook and Twitter every day all day is not to sit there posting all day!

Using Twitter may seem daunting, or perhaps you’ve used it but didn’t see the reward to the investment of time, but using these tips may help you. And Twitter is a unique way to quickly get people’s attention and get them engaged with your music brand.

"99% [of my Twitter feed is] links, but 1% is me responding and 1% of a big number is a big number." - @GuyKawasaki

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is probably tweeting right now to one of the dozen or so brands he runs, including his Christian artist and songwriter development company Creative Soul. To find out more go to  http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Some other good resources for Twitter Tips


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Why It’s Time to Record

You have known for a while that it is time to get into (or back into) the studio. But we live in a new time in the music industry. No longer do the old rules of put it out and sales just happen, and maybe you are reticent to put the investment in.

Here are a few reasons why it may make sense for you to record now.

If you don’t have a recording, how will people hear your music and message?

So many people feel they have a voice, a talent, whatever. But that’s not really the point as Christian music ministries is it? It’s not just about showing off, or proving you’re great. It’s about using that gift to get the miraculous message of Christ to the world. 

Now maybe you are singing at church a lot more, even doing concerts or specials, but having a recorded product lets you be heard by the world without you being present. We now have so many ways to allow people to listen. It’s truly a golden age. But not if you don’t have a recording to show!

What will you have to show you are serious as a music artist or ministry?

It is one thing to say “I am a singer”. It is another thing to say “I am a singer, and here’s my album.” That’s a huge difference! Suddenly people look at you quite differently and take you much more seriously.

Having a recorded music product gives your music and ministry a next level sense of legitimacy. Without it, you are just “a nice person who can sing”. It shows that you are not just messing around, or like the tens of thousands of pretty good singers that try out every year for “American Idol” or “The Voice”. Having a music product is proof positive that you can both do this and ARE doing this.

How will you show your music and ministry quality to a church or event?

Event marketers, conference planners, even pastors looking to bring artists in, all of these need something to see and hear before they make a decision on bringing in an artist. How will they know if an artist is right without hearing them (and seeing them) first?

Events and churches are getting harder and harder to book yourself into, but you will have no chance to get in most without a product.

What legacy or mark will you leave on this world?

Sometimes it’s not about “music business” things at all. Sometimes it’s more about just making sure that the world knew you made music. As a composer and arranger, much of the reason I want to finish the musical and other creative things I make is so I can leave them behind as my legacy. 

Who knows how all this iTunes, Amazon, Spotify content will play out? Who knows what will happen to the world of music? 

But what I do know is that my children, future grandchildren, family, and anyone who ever stumbled upon or heard my music will have been blessed by what God gave me to do. I still wish I had recorded my father more. I would love to have quality recordings of the songs he sang and wrote.

That’s one of my biggest fears in fact, that I will not properly leave behind all the music in a way that the world will find it, hear it, or that my family can properly catalog it.

“I care about my legacy that I'm leaving, not only for my fans, but for my wife and my children and my grandchildren. I want them to look back and say, 'He did it right and he stood up for what is right.” - Josh Turner

Isn’t it just time to get this music ministry going?

You’ve fooled around long enough! You’ve waited for years...way longer than you should have.

At some point, you’ve got to put this talent into a final form. You’ve got to get this thing moving. Or maybe you need to get it restarted?

Do you need something to revitalize your music ministry and haven’t put out new music in a while?

This is what every artist who has ever been known as an artist has done. When the audience has lost interest in the old product, it’s time for a new product. It’s that way in music, movies, TV, books, or any artistic form.

Nothing revitalizes an artist’s following, career, or even their own creativity like a new work of art. It’s how this all works. It’s what we do. We put a product out, we market it, then we write or find the next songs, and we do the next one. It’s how we keep everything going.

Need more reasons to record you music?

Do you really need more? Or do you just need to get going?

You’ve been thinking about it for a long time. But something always holds you back. Sure you could cite money, or time, but it’s probably just a lack of finding the right people to trust with your sound. It’s making the decision to finally get going. It’s getting that fire in your belly to finally get to, or get back to, your music.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” - Tony Robbins

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a music producer, arranger, and songwriter. His company Creative Soul has been counseling music ministries, helping them record amazing albums, and assisting in marketing for over 20 years. Whether you just need to talk to someone about all this, or are ready to get recording, check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com