Monday, March 12, 2012

How NOT to Get a Record Deal

It happens just about every day of my life. I check my phone messages and there is at least one message asking this question:

How do I get a Record Deal?

It never ceases to amaze me that folks still think the Record Deal is the only way to become famous in Christian music. Like there are Record Deal stores here in Nashville and you can just come by and ask where they are.

Wannabe Superstar Christian Artist: "Um, can you tell me where I can find the Record Deals?"

Me: "Yes, you'll find them over on Aisle 3, next to the Unicorns. If you get to the Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster section you've gone too far."

OK, so here's the first clue on how to get a Record Deal: Don't ask for one. That's a sure fire way we can know you don't really deserve one.

You see, the people that DO deserve to be invested in and developed are those folks who have already been out taking their music and ministry to the world. They have been on stage for years already, without waiting for anyone to give them permission, sign them to a contract, or tell them they are awesome and hand them a bowl of green MandMs.

People like Madalyn McHugh, Stephen Bautista, Jeannette Petkau, and Mike Westendorf are artists I'm talking about.

Madalyn McHugh is a recent high school graduate who has gone on to advanced music! This talented teen has not only released her first national single, album, and videos, but also has opened for Sidewalk Prophets and is in talks with Word Records. You'd never know it in her easy demeanor, but she is a driving force to be reckoned with and is aimed at full-time, worldwide ministry.

Stephen Bautista is at this very moment driving around with SIX kids and a wife in a motor home on the road in ministry. He is doing it folks! Living the dream as we like to say. But he is a terrific songwriter who has left "normal" life behind to lay it all on the line for ministry. And guess what? It's working! But prayers for him and his family are always welcome for a traveling ministry!

Jeannette Petkau just finished her newest album, and this ministry pro is revving up her Canadian ministry in style. With her newest release by Creative Soul Records, she is doing amazingly well on radio, and is growing a legion of online and offline followers. She has been doing ministry for a while, and has had some setbacks, but her commitment to keep going, and quality has paid off.

Mike Westendorf is a weatherman in Wisconsin, but has been building a music ministry for the last ten years. His newest releases have spawned radio play and new touring possibilities. Like the people above, there is just a fire in his belly to get out to the world and minister.

This fire, this refusing to quit even when the crowds aren't there, is what labels and audiences are hungry for. There's no deal these folks have to sign to be out there ministering...God has already given them a Deal. And they are out working for the Kingdom.

So before you email, call, or show up on the doorstep of a record label asking for a Record Deal because you are super talented and love the Lord, consider putting in some real work like these folks. Consider getting to work tonight on your songs, social media, tour dates, and walk with God. If He wants someone to invest in you, it will happen without you having to ask for it.

Or if  you stroll over to Aisle 3 and they're all out, there are people out there selling Record Deals. Just email an MP3 and you'll get a shiny Record Deal in the mail to sign. Tell us how that works out for ya.

Eric Copeland is a producer and consultant for Creative Soul in Nashville, TN. His company helps artists find the right path to ministry, gives them production options, and can also provide label-like services such as radio promotion, marketing, and digital distribution. They are currently all out of  Record Deals as they are apparently on permanent back order. (For more real world answers and next steps, try


John said...

Very good... Great words...

isingit2 said...

Great article - well said. I am doing it, working it, and the Lord is opening the doors. I quit my full-time job in January to get back to what I was created and called to do and God is amazing. Yes, it is hard work but I am loving it. If I can do it anyone can and it is all due to people like you Eric that share your pearls of wisdom with indies like me. God bless! `Judith Baker

Eric Copeland said...

Way to go Judith! Thanks for showing it can be done! EC

jill said...

I completely agree with what you have to say. I left my teaching job 4 years ago to pursue music and I love being an indie artist. It is such hard work but absolutely rewarding to have the opportunity to share about God. It is so encouraging hearing stories about how the music has impacted the listeners and God is doing more than I could have ever imagined. To the artists out faithful in the small things and God will grant you bigger things. Thanks Eric!

Jill Hagen

Mayra said...

Ha ha, that's funny! Great article...good to know. Mental note locked and set!

Wanda Rhoads said...

Last year I began to ask God to get me out of my full time job, and allow our music to be full time. January, I had to have surgery which ment a medical leave from work. April, my employer release me from my job. I have been working our band full time since my surgery. God has give my husband and I some wonderful music over the past year, and I get to promote it full tim now. I just need to know where all to look, my resources are beginning to run a little thin. But this is a ministry He has blessed us with.

Anonymous said...



Charmaine T. Davis, author said...

Thanks, Eric! Nobody is really saying this to writers, well, some of it, but when it comes down to it people in the writing industry seem to think you're illegitimate unless a traditional publisher has handed you contract, ie, the validation ticket.

I really needed to read this today. I'm up at four o'clock in the morning to write before my family gets up and wondering why I'm doing this. I took a little break and checked out my emaill and came across this post. Thank you, again! Blessings!

Eric Copeland said...

I have to agree with you Charmaine, the sooner artists and writers find out that there is NO ONE coming to save them from the "industry" the better off they will be. Take it from me, someone who makes a good living working in music and ministry, it takes developing a way to get music out to real people who need to hear it. If you do that on your own, you will find great success and happiness. (Sounds like a Chinese proverb!)

Charmaine T. Davis, author said...

Re-reading this blog post--still has power--thank you!