Doing Music Full Time For God

Posted: August 4, 2013 in Helpful Tips, Music Business, News
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This week I received an email from a reader of our website that reflects really well the kind of sentiment we get all of the time.  She is a young singer/songwriter with a passion for God and a passion for music.  Here is a snippet of her email to us…

I feel like i am called to serve God and use the gifts he has given me in music and singing. This is scary because it involves such risk and faith! i want to be an artist who’s known for being real, honest and transparent about life and living and what it really means to seek godly living. I have 1000 questions I’m sure, but I suppose other than continuing to lead worship at my church, play small local shows, should I be working on making my own album and just trying to market it independently? I have an old EP that was really a rushed project that doesn’t truly showcase my voice or the true potential of my songs. What is the intelligent route here?  I am aware that I may never make much doing this but my heart screams to do this for God Full time and I am ready to do what it takes, but am In need of guidance. Whatever advice you have would be respected and treasured. – Eryn Crews

Thank you, Eryn, for being vulnerable enough with us to express how you really feel.  And, thank you for your question.  It is one we get most often from other readers.

So, I thought the best way to answer this common question, is with a post on the subject.

So, basically, how does one go about starting a music ministry career – one that will eventually be full time and fulfilling a calling in your life?  And secondly, what are the first steps?  Do I make an album?

My favorite part of this email is “My heart screams to do this for God full time and I’m ready to do whatever it takes.

I hear and feel your heart, Eryn.

OK, so, here is what I would say to you and anyone else in your position:

1. Know Your Calling, Purpose and Message

We have two free e-books that we offer to our readers.  You will get them when you sign up for our email list on the top right of our home page.  The first is ‘The 4 Pillars of Your Christian Music Success’.  I would highly recommend you read this and walk through the exercises.  This will help you to build the foundation you need in your career.  It will help make it sustainable.  It will fill you with energy.  You will discover your clear message and mission for why you do what you do.

2. Write Your Clear 3-6 Month Goals

The second free e-book comes about one week after you receive your first Pillars ebook via email.  This document will help you walk through how to set clear 3-6 month short term goals for your music ministry.  It’s a clear follow-up to the first ebook and worksheet you followed the previous week.  Take time to fully engage with your goals.  Discover what’s most important.  Decide what’s going to get done first, second, third and so on.  This will really help you in getting to your focus.  And, you will learn how to review these goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so you always stay on track.

3. Marketing 101

Let me teach you some basics of marketing that are very important to keep in mind when you’re just getting started with an aim to do music ministry full time.

– Make sure you communicate your why.  Your why is your MMP (Music Ministry Purpose). Believe will follow what they believe in.

– It is better to give than to receive.  Give as much away as you can – extra music and your message.  Share what God has given you to say with the world.  The more you give, the more that will be given to you.

– Know your audience.  Know who you are speaking to.  This is important for you as you write and record your music.  And, as you begin to craft the message of your ministry.  This may become clearer after you actually start singing and performing your music out.

– Don’t work so hard to sell your music.  Make your content, your message, your music like a magnet.  Part of that comes with writing and singing great music.  You can test your music and message with your audience on a smaller scale.  It’s better to test your audience when you’re singing to family, friends and your church first before stepping outside of your church and making mistakes on a bigger scale.

– Your website is your home and funnel everything else to it.  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube should all funnel to your website.  And, make sure your website is mobile-friendly.  You’d be surprised how many people are on the web using their iPhone, iPad or Smartphone.

– Think brand and image when just getting started.  Take some great head shots – outdoors in natural lighting – that’s the cheapest way to do this.  Have a local designer create some banners, headers, cover images for you.

4. Bloom Where You Are Planted (50 Mile Radius)

This is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you.  This will help save time and money as you grow in confidence. This strategy does 3 things for you.  First, it saves you travel time.  Second, it saves you (and the churches that book you) money.  And, third, it gives you the opportunity to develop your confidence in ministry.  It helps you to experiment with what you say and how you say it.  If you make a mistake in your marketing, you will only make it on a small scale.  And, it gives you the necessary foundation to help you to walk into who God is forming you to become in your music ministry.

Don’t move to Nashville.  Unless you are wanting to become a Christian, Country or Pop songwriter, I wouldn’t advise moving to Nashville.  And, that’s tough enough – becoming a songwriter in this town.  It’s better to bloom where God planted you.

If you feel you can’t reach enough people within a 50 mile radius, you could consider moving or broadening your radius to a 100 mile radius.  The key is to minimize your drive time and fuel traveling everywhere.

5. One Song At A Time

This is another time and money saver.  It’s overwhelming to take on a whole album of 10-12 songs.  It costs too much money to do it all at once – especially for someone just starting out.  Plus, it can take 3-6 months to completely record an entire album.  To me, this is time you could be spending marketing your message and your music.

It’s best to spend your time focusing on the message of one song at a time.  That song may have a particular message to offer to someone.  Why not focus on that song for a couple of weeks – promoting it.  Marketing it.  Engaging with your audience online and live on stage with it.

It does another thing for you.  If you record one song at a time, it gives you time to get a feeling for how your audience is responding to the song/recording.  They may give you valuable feedback with each new song you record.  Pay attention to your audience/fans.  They are your #1 asset in your career.

Also, if you focus on one song at a time, it gives you a chance to feel-out your producer’s strengths and weaknesses.  It also allows you to work with multiple producers over time.  When you’ve found a producer you like to work with, then go ahead and record more songs with them.

6. Go Digital First, Then Physical Later Print CDs 50-100 at a time (for live events)

Of course, you’re going to want to have some CDs made to sell at your live events.  People are still buying them – especially in the local church.  But you can be wise with this in the beginning.  When you’re just getting started, why would you want to print 1000 CDs.  Yes, it saves you money per CD to print 1000-2500-5000 at a time, but you’re weighing yourself down with unnecessary costs.  It’s better to print 120-500 at a time in the beginning.  There are numerous small print run duplicators who could do this for you.

It’s best to put your focus on releasing one song at a time online.  Again, you can easily do this with online applications for artists like Reverbnation or CDBaby.  Do this first.

Those are some initial answers to your questions, Eryn.  These are probably questions many of our readers have.  I hope and trust and believe that they’ve been helpful to you!

If you’d like to sign up for one-on-one consulting specific to your situation, please contact us.

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