Sunday, August 26, 2012

Is Live Music Ministry the Only Answer?

We've heard it whispered in circles. The rumors are that even the record labels are saying it to everyone unashamedly. You may have even experienced it yourself.

There are no sales.

The days of the CD supporting labels through sales in stores, or online (as if it ever did online) are over, especially for new and independent artists.

Be honest, how many have YOU sold online? 50? 100?

And radio is even worse. The days of having a chance to compete with label artists in Christian radio may also be at an end. With sales waning, the larger labels have worked even harder to sew up all the radio play. (Hint: They had it anyway.)

And any physical distribution there may still be left in the rapidly shrinking CD bins at Walmart, Target, and Barnes and Noble are the distinct domain of the bigger labels.

So what do we do?

Well, we do what we did 150 years ago, before the invention of the radio or the phonograph. We do what Southern Gospel groups have been doing the last 50 years with great success. We do what we really want to do anyway.

We go out, and we minister live in person to people who need the power of Jesus in their lives. You remember don't you, the REASON you were called to do this in the first place???

Now, I know this may seem strange: a music producer preaching to go out live instead of telling you that a music product is the answer. Don't get me wrong, you can't go out without a product, then you'll be sitting there after you sing with a line of folks wondering what they can take with them from your ministry!

But it is obvious that our efforts to help Christian artists, consult with them, produce them, and help them market themselves ends in the same place: You need a place to go minister with your awesome CD. 

There is Social Media. And we feel that a strong, well-maintained blog, with good Twitter and Facebook support, and a killer email list can help grow your audience. But even those tools best support a live focus! 

We believe in this so much, we have started a service for our artists we said we couldn't do, and for years shrugged our shoulders and told clients "We don't do booking." Well, now we do.

Why? Because we want to make good on our goal to help Christian music artists the best we can.

Have you been playing the game, trying for radio play, struggling for online sales, and racking your brain to figure out how to get your CD in stores, all to realize it's just not working?

Maybe you should put all that time, money, and energy into your live ministry.

Now it's not about just hiring a booking agent. Sometimes it's a matter of finding a friend, spouse, or parent to do it for you. They care, and will usually do a better job than some stranger you pay. Plus the bigger booking agencies don't get excited about making 20% of your $250 church concert so they likely won;t return your calls or emails anyway.

But the biggest truth about working on booking is that it isn't magic. It just takes researching where you want to minister and then emailing and calling. It takes something we talk alot about here that you may uncomfortable with: Work.

So what do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts below in the comments section.

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland is a producer, and president of Creative Soul Records, a service company that consults, producers, and promotes independent Christian artists around the world. For more on what they do, check out and


MadalynMcHugh said...

I couldn't agree more Eric. I think about a year down the road when we've done a "circuit" and are calling back the same churches and venues to minister again (or better yet, being called to come back) and you can rest assured they will not be lining up to buy the same CD as last year. You'll need something new. Which means already developing new ideas, mining for songs, writing songs, and so on. Thinking about the next project. You make a lot of really good points. BMc.

Unknown said...

That is exactly what we are going through right now. Being so new to this industry, I'm not really sure how or where to look. In our area, it is musically dead. We have a few church "Coffee Houses," but even they are hard to get into. I am home all day and do all the administrative duties for our band. (Great advantage) I just need to figure out where to look, and since we are more of an entertainment band as opposed to the Sunday morning worship its a challenge for me.

Brittany Pierre said...

All well said. But still very hard. No one wants to book you at their event or church unless you're a big name or at least have a label or management. Some spend the better part of 5 years just doing small coffee shops or whatever and give up. Discouraged.

Craig Berry said...

What about performing in secular venues?

cnorquay said...

The only reason I am making my album to have a great leave behind for my live performance. I don't think anyone will be successful selling CD's unless they are passionate ABOUT their live performance and work as hard at that as they did to make the album. When people have an experience that moves them, that is powerful and more bookings will result. So if you are frustrated... amp it up in your live performance... give it all you got... get some help, video record yourself and get honest, constructive feedback.
On another note.... hope you are all going out into the secular scene.... SHINE THE LIGHT!!! (plus I've found MOST people LOVE my music even if they don't attend church... it really speaks to them.... just do it!)

Eric Copeland said...

Good stuff Cherie! I agree that the CD is very powerful as a tool that supports live ministry. Or course I feel like it's that work of art that we do leave behind, but also a calling card, and a reminder of the ministry God gave us.

And yes, both Cherie and Craig, I think the world we live in now demands (as well as God expects) us to go out to everyone. Great Commission right?!