Monday, February 27, 2017

Funding Your Music Ministry

We’re moving towards something new this year. Something big, and so I have been carefully charting a course to get us there.

So far this year, I have presented the “The State of the Music Ministry Business”, a report from interviews with people in the Christian music industry as well as artists out there trying to make ministry work. Also, I explored “The Forgotten Why” of why we minister with our gifts.

Of course at some point, the thing everyone is trying to discover (in an age when any music you make is worthless as far as it’s intrinsic value to the consumer) is where do you find money to pursue your music?

The Label Way of Funding


It used to be if someone wanted to be a Christian recording artist in the late 20th century, and they wanted to get out and minister to a large audience, that person had to be signed to a large record company. The labels were the only ones who had all the networks. They had the radio networks, the distribution networks, the touring networks, and the marketing networks. They also had all the top producers and were about the only way to record a quality album. Moreover, they had the MONEY to make it all happen. And to some extent they still do.

But being discovered, even with Star Search in the 1980s, to American Idol, Youtube, and The Voice in recent years, has never been easy. Still only 1% or much less ever get signed, and even less than that have successful, lasting music ministry careers.

The Indie Way of Funding

The other answer, especially over the last 15 or so years, was for artists to fund their own expenses and do everything themselves. That means finding a reputable producer, spending or gathering the funds to pay all the expenses of making a new recording, finding all sorts of people from photographers to designers, and a way to make CDs.

Then it became about selling your music to recoup your money, and hopefully make a profit. This is exactly what record labels do. They make records they think are great and then hope to make money from that music.

Up until a few years ago, there were actually online ways to make money with music, even if downloads brought in less than CDs. The problem now of course is that streaming has decreased online sales to a trickle (mainly thanks to the labels…yep they have that network sewn up too!) So the only way to make any income off music is to go out and play. But planning a tour, or even knowing who to call also takes time, and also funds for travel, pay to play, and other things.

Which now brings up the penultimate question, how do you spend money making music if you can’t make the money back? I’ve written blog posts before that stated we shouldn’t be ministering with the constant goal of making money. But the reality is that it does take funds to make this whole thing work from contacting anyone to help you get started, to making music, to getting the music ministry out there.

We have really struggled with this through the years. Being a studio based operation it was always easy to charge for finite services like recording, or mixing. Even the production of a full music product can be done in a service format. There is a product at the end, and you could hold in hand something tangible that your money paid for.

But consulting, or marketing, or managing, these are things that are not very tangible. Anybody who has hired a publicist or a radio promoter (which neither promise anything other than they will try) know how intangible these services can be. So it’s hard to charge for the services, and it’s easy for people to say “Oh, you shouldn’t spend your money on that!” But then offer you no other way to move forward.

A Future Way of Funding?

I think the answer to finding these funds is similar to the way a lot of you have probably already tried, with some degree of success. You’ve seen it in people who do Kickstarter, IndieGogo, or other campaigns, raising support for a project or event from people they know and don’t know.

Support from benefactors is not only the future for artists no matter what your specific creative talent, but it has been the past as well. Fund raising has been at the root of classical music, church activities, and other artistic genres like jazz for centuries. Even with the record industry machine that developed in the 20th Century, fundraising, support, or whatever you want to call it has been behind the scenes helping art survive for a very long time.

Now if you’re thinking that fund raising is just one more thing you’re going to have to add to your arsenal of music and ministry duties, well you might be right. But your other options are hope to win the lottery, or pay for it yourself. And if you have read this far you likely have not had much luck with either of those options.

To this end we are trying some new things this year, first we are introducing a new company called Creative Heart Ministries. Think of this as a way for you to get started and dip your toe into the world of fund raising.

We have partnered with a company called Artists in Christian Testimony International, based in Brentwood, Tennessee. This is a company I have worked with throughout my career helping music ministries, as A.C.T. Int’l helps music ministries take donations that are tax-deductible.

You can find out more about what we are doing at our website CreativeHeartMinistries.org

Through this website you can find supporters to give tax-free donations towards beginning your ministry. We also have a scholarship fund that you can either join or donate to that will help people who need to speak with someone and work with someone they can trust, but don’t have the funds yet to get started.

As it is every year, it’s a struggle and a job to keep up with the best way to help music ministries move forward in the current world that we live in. So we are going to appeal to the better nature of the people who support us, offer them a tax free way to donate to ministries, and see if we can start something wholly new in the music ministry business.

We would welcome your thoughts in the comments below on how you think this might work, your concerns, and your ideas.

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is president and lead producer for Creative Soul, a Christian music ministry development company in Nashville, TN. Our goal is to build amazing ministries, and get them out and working in the world. Interested? Read more about us on this site. Or contact us now with questions!

We also invite you to check out our new non-profit side, where you can work with us via donations made in your name. Go to CreativeHeartMinistries.org

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