Sunday, May 07, 2017

5 Excuses for Music “Meh”


1. expressing a lack of interest or enthusiasm.
“Meh. I’m not impressed so far”

1. uninspiring; unexceptional.
“the songs just came out … meh”

I hear all the time from folks who feel like they have been taken, or ended up with a bad project, or worked with the wrong person. They lament the fact that they made the wrong choice in producer, studio, or just in someone they trusted to help them well musically.

The music just sounds…meh.

Now there are many reasons people make these decisions and end up unhappy, and sometimes feeling downright scammed. So here are the things I hear most from people after they went down roads.

“But they offered me a record deal!”

I know of a company that for years sent “record deals” by email to any artist who contacted them. The company quickly got several thousand dollars from them with promises of putting in “tens of thousands of dollars” themselves, promising online marketing, and other grandiose things.

They then proceeded to leave the artist with a usually under-produced album, stick them on their site, and call it a day. The artists, never fully happy with the production, usually came to us saying they wish they had not gone down that path. But hey they were offered a “record deal”, and that doesn’t happen every day (well, except with that company I guess).

Record deals don’t happen because you send someone an email. After years of talking with A&R friends of mine at large labels like Word Records, I know that they only sign artists after a long period of building a relationship. Furthermore, if someone signs you to a real record deal, THEY will pay YOU, not the other way around. They usually offer some kind of advance against sales, and a way for you to make income as an artist.

Best advice: If it’s not a major label offering you a legit deal looked over by lawyers and working on for months by both sides, it’s likely going to be a headache.

This is not to say that an artist paying someone to produce their record is wrong, it’s simply another model. You can sign a production contract, and you as the client will pay for production. (And FYI, even if an artist is signed and the label makes them a record, the artist is STILL paying the label out of their sales and royalties.)

“But they had a big name, or had won Grammys!”

Make sure you know the exact role they had in that shiny Gold Record they have on their walls at the studio. Anyone involved in a project can buy one of those plaques, or get a certificate to frame. It doesn’t matter if they were an exec, or an assistant to the assistant to the engineer. Listen carefully to the previous recordings of artists they have produced recently, before you start paying them to make music for you.

“But they said I was an amazing, “anointed” talent!”

I bet they did. They probably also told you they only had “one spot left on their roster”.

I do know that people feel very differently about what they hear. One producer may like something, and one A&R guy doesn’t care for it. In many cases (for production companies or producers) the tendency is to take anything that comes in the door, mainly because smart studios don’t say no to work. This is not inherently wrong. I’ve been producing most who knock on my website door for decades since I come from the production studio model.

The scary thing and red flag is when some producer or “label” comes to you out the blue and says they think you are “anointed” and “special”, and then asks YOU to pay them. That is straight up scam time. We don’t do that, and most of the engineers, players, and other producers we know in Nashville definitely don’t do that. We wait for people to find us, contact us, or inquire about our services.

Unless we see you live and in person, meet you through an acquaintance, or are otherwise moved by something we see, we will not contact you looking for business. It’s just wrong.

“But the price was so low!”

Of course it is. In almost anything in life, you get what you pay for. A Hyundai isn’t a Mercedes. And many times these companies know if they can get a few grand, from a lot of people, they can make out quite well.

Or, you have someone with limited experience doing things for nothing or for free. The dude in his basement with Pro Tools, the fledgling studio in your hometown, or the retired musician who does this as a hobby. They could all be super nice people, but the price usually will dictate the quality you will get. (Although this can work in reverse with the “Grammy winning team” who says they are worth $5,000 per single. Hint: It really doesn’t cost $5,000 per song!)

“But I didn’t know anyone else or any better!”

And this is the one that I hear most often. As the police say, Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat (Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses not” and “ignorance of law excuses no one” respectively.)

We don’t quite believe it’s your fault that you don’t know what to do with your music and ministry, so we work very hard with blogs like these and free advice, phone calls, workshops, etc. to make sure people know what they need to know to be prepared.

In fact, while we will continue our popular Artist and Songwriter Development Workshop held at Word Entertainment in Nashville, and our other critiques and consults we’ve been doing for years, we are more devoted than ever to making sure you make the right decisions for your music and ministry goals.

We have been singularly focused for more than two decades on helping the independent Christian Artist and Songwriter find success and do God’s work. That’s why we have always offered for you to email us, call us, and talk with us for free.

Be careful out there, and if you have any question about music and ministry, give us a call, an email, tweet, smoke signal, Morse Code…

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland has tirelessly worked for music ministries for over 20 years, and gets really mad when people are taken advantage of in pursuit of their music goals. His goal with anything Creative Soul produces is Heck yeah! Not meh. For more on what Creative Soul does, read through our site at and contact us with any questions.

1 comment:

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