Sunday, January 10, 2016

What If We Gave It Away?

Dream with me for just a moment.

Just for the time reading this article, pretend you just won 1 billion dollars in the Mega Millions lottery, and money was no longer a concern.

Then think about the realizations you may have had about the talents God has given you, and how He has blessed you or brought you through this life. Think about the vision or calling you have received to take His Word out to the world.

If indeed we feel God has given us talent and opportunity to share His message to the world, shouldn't we do anything in our power to get that in people's hands, hearts, and ears?

“I'm only here on Earth to serve God. I never had a career. I don't care about commercialism. I have a ministry and I'll fight for the ministry.” – Larry Norman

Now, already I hear you grumbling. “But the ministry has to make money to survive.”

No, YOU have to make money to survive. Don't put that on the ministry. I know pastors who worked two jobs or more while they served a small congregation of believers for years if not a lifetime. I've seen many artists realize that the music was not going to pay for itself, and be happy in their non-music jobs so they can enjoy their music ministry all their life.

It's important for me to say at this point that I believe wholeheartedly in selling CDs, downloads, royalties, and making money from our music businesses. Um, that's kind of how I live now! But I am NOT talking about offering services we provide for free. I'm talking mainly about giving the music away, and probably specifically, online.

I wonder if we have gotten a little too tight with our online offerings. We strictly put clips up to “force” or “suggest” people to buy the full download, even though any savvy Internet user now knows they can easily listen to the whole song at Spotify or Apple Music anytime they want for free.

“For it is in giving that we receive.” – Francis of Assisi

Perhaps it's time to put our full songs up any and everywhere we can to let people hear and experience the music, especially if they aren't buying anyway. Our goal is to minister to the people who find out about our music right? Isn't our goal to reach their hearts more than glorifying us in some way through financial remuneration?

In concert, and with physical sales it’s a completely different beast. People want to bless us by contributing to our ministries and buying CDs. Now could you just give it all away at your concerts? Of course. And if you choose to give all your music away, then that is a great ministry too.

On the same thinking, you could use a company like Artists in Christian Testimony, International to act as your 501c3 non-profit status and write off all your expenses as you would a tithe. Did you know that? Then perhaps we wouldn’t feel quite so responsible to make back our recording and marketing budget, or make a profit.

I know most of you feel like you give it away anyway, but probably this bugs you a bit because of how hard you work on and invest in the music and the business of ministering. But “free” isn’t only a monetary decision, it can also be a sound strategy especially for the important ministry we are trying to do.

“Charging a price, any price, creates a mental barrier that most people won't bother crossing. Free, in contrast, speeds right past that decision, increasing the number of people who will try something. What Free grants, in exchange for forsaking direct revenues, is the potential of mass sampling.” – Chris Anderson, Free, The Future of a Radical Price

So, what if you gave it away? What if all your pursuits were to put the music in people’s hands and ears only? What if your music was paid for, or at least you could write it all off so that it wasn’t about a return on investment? What if it was all about people listening and that was all you had to worry about?

Wouldn’t that inspire you to make music from a different place? If worries about charts, record labels, or how much you’d make back (all of which are hard to make happen anyway) were gone, wouldn’t this get back to just how much you love making music and serving God?

Wouldn’t this ensure more folks see and hear your message and music? Isn’t that the whole goal?

I’m not asking or even suggesting we do this…just suggesting you think it through.

What if you gave it away?

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” – 2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland is president of Creative Soul Records, a different kind of Christian music company. if you would like any information or feedback, check out

Find out more about Artists in Christian Testimony, International here!


momndadhoner said...

Interestingly, (to me anyway!), I attended a worship leaders' conference in Spokane, WA last June, where I met Joel Houston of United Hillsong. I asked him specifically how to get the music out of my little church and on to the masses. He said....."give it away".
His extended thought was that if you put a cd in everyones' hand that you know or come in contact with, it will rise on it's own merit. The word (double entendre intended) will find its' way into the right hands and the music will be used of God. In other words, God will bring it to the top if it is supposed to be there. Just give it away.

Eric Copeland said...

Right we could take this idea all the way and give it away across the board, or for what people want to give for it. Again, I am not against selling product at all. I have been doing it for decades. But as I get older the idea for me is for people to hear it and be affected by it. J.S. Bach and many other composers weren't rich in their lifetimes, but their music endured and touched millions of lives in so many ways. If mine could do that, then it would mean I accomplished a lot more than just making a living for the years I am here on Earth.

Themba Hlatshwayo said...

Amen glory to Jesus Halelujah this right this amen to me wow! Thank you Jesus you just spoken and I take this. I'm at the final stage of my music mixing here in South Africa and I'm going to do just this - give it away. Thank you father. From Themba Hlatshwayo Pietermaritzburg South Africa

Cynthia Butler said...

Thank you for this blog Eric, the last thing I want getting in the way is money. Also I was not aware of ' Artist in Christian Testimony 501c3'. This information in its self is liberating.

Amy Denson said...

This is EXACTLY what I am doing and SO wish more would do. It grieves me no end to be on a website and in order to finish the teaching you have to pay x$ For Bible teaching! Keith Green paved the way for us in trusting God in this way. Thank you so much for this writing!!! It confirms what God has been speaking to my heart. Thank you dear brother.