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How to Become a Christian Recording Artist

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Some friends have asked me to compile a list of things to do in order to earn a living from Christian music. So below are my personal views on what you need to do to be successful. I will warn you that these are my opinions and not the only way to succeed. There are always exceptions to the rule. However, these things have worked for me and therefore I will share what I know. I’m not sugarcoating anything, so if you are easily offended, I already apologize. Before we begin, let me dispel a few myths.

Myth # 1 If I had a record label to support me, I could dedicate myself full time.

So, so, so bad. I have a better idea, max out all your credit cards, get a huge loan, borrow money from your family, and live off it while you build your career in music. That? No takers? Why not? In fact, that is exactly what you are doing with the tag. You live on money that is not yours. When you go on tour to support your new CD, guess where the proceeds go? It serves to return the money they gave you to live. I’m going to say this once, STOP LOOKING FOR A DEAL! I did it for years. When I finally stopped and concentrated on making my music my business, the record deal found me. What they’d offer you as a no-name / no-boost band will suck anyway. Get out there and sell 10,000 copies of your self-produced demo and then we can talk about record deals and if they make sense. Until then, shut up and play.

Myth # 2 I can play Christian churches / events and survive

How can I put this? Christians are cheap! For the most part, Christians will not provide you with the financial support you need to survive. This will vary by region, but generally people think ministry = free. Be careful how you present yourself so as not to get pigeonholed here. You can be both a Christian and a Christian artist. Let the music speak for itself, and when the opportunity presents itself, share what’s on your heart. If you try to present yourself as a Christian artist, you won’t be able to play long enough to survive.

The fact is, I can go play 3 hours of song covers in a bar and earn more money than accepting a love offering from 200 people. Shocked? Do not be. It’s sad but true. Be open to playing where you are needed, where your message is needed. If churches cannot support themselves financially, how can they support you? Research tells us that 2% of people who attend church actually tithe (the full 10%). That’s not the kind of odds that I want to bet on the well-being of my family.

On the top 5 list:

1) Be competent

I once heard Billy Joel say that the reason he has been successful for so long is that he is competent. Most musicians are not as competent as they can be and therefore they fade faster. If singing is your thing, take lessons, improve, study, practice! The same can be said for their respective instrument. If you are just playing fine, OK is not enough to play full time. There are a lot of mediocre musicians who do free gigs that make it harder for you to earn a living. So, be better! Better. The later half of this is accepting the Truth. If your parents tell you that you are great, seek a second opinion. If strangers approach you after hearing you play and flatter your music, now you’re talking!

2) Be unique

There are many good artists out there. What will separate you from the pack? Is it your vocal style? Your guitar playing? There must be something that turns you into yourself! Whether it’s using loops, a different tuning, a particular look or whatever; Keep people watching and wanting to see what you are going to do next. A great resource for creating memorable moments is Tom Jackson’s seminars. I have had the course at Tom’s home for 4 years and refer to it frequently. I build my set lists around their formulas. Guess what, it works! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just research and study wisely. Find yourself before others find you.

3) Have a great recording

So you’ve practiced a lot, put together a good show, and created moments to remember, now what? If you do these things well enough, others will want to remember too. You need a recording of yourself. This is the first true key for the full time. A good recording will give you concerts, a bad recording will not. Should you record in your home studio or go to a bigger one? Good question. My experience is that most of us don’t have the talent to create a good recording at home. Keep in mind that good equipment does not equal good recording. You can have all the bells and whistles, but if you don’t know how to use them, you’re wasting money.

He used to have a great computer at home, but he didn’t know shit about how to use it to its full potential. I sold everything and used that money to record with professionals. The results were fantastic and allowed me to have a quality product that was a true representation of how it sounded. I used that CD to send it to venues and book gigs. There is no doubt that it helped me to work full time. A quick word on recording budgets, if you have $ 1000 to record as your budget, make fewer songs with better production. A great 3-song demo is much more valuable than an average 12-song LP. You will sell many more for $ 5 each if they are of great quality. The great quality will also catch the eye of people in the industry. Any radio prayer, etc. it will only happen if the quality is excellent!

4) Be an advertising hound

You must take advantage of every opportunity to promote yourself. Even the smallest opportunities can lead to bigger and better opportunities to play. I started playing anywhere I could, parties, churches, youth groups, restaurants, charity events, commercial functions, bars, prisons, whatever and I’ve been there. Have a good brochure to give to people. Places like Club Flyers can print thousands of postcards and posters at very low cost. Use them to give to everyone at concerts. If there is another band playing in your area that has the same style as you, go to the concert and deliver your material when people leave the venue. That ?! Commando style? Yes, a total frontal assault on your possible audience. Do not be an idiot. Use your head, be enthusiastic and invite people to your next concert. Visit your local radio station and offer to play any event they may have. Many times they have a charity event that they would love to have fun with. You have to go find it. If you can afford it, hire someone like Ariel Hyatt at Ariel Publicity. She does an absolutely amazing job on a 3 month ad campaign for around a thousand dollars. In the world of advertising, that is very cheap. She can get press, reviews, radio shows and is a wealth of knowledge to help you promote yourself. Heck, he even got us to play live on Sirius Satellite Radio! One thing’s for sure, if you’re going to wait for opportunities to come, it’s not full-time stuff. Sorry.

5) think outside the box

This sentence is overused, but it is true. I have done several things that many would never have thought of in order to survive. For example, he played at a Holiday Inn once a month in his restaurant / bar. I played over 40 covers of songs for 3 hours. My agreement was to get paid in Priority Points. These internal points are fun money for hotels. Giving you between 20 and 30,000 points is nothing to them. However, 2-3 nights are free at any Holiday Inn for you. This is very valuable when you are on tour. Limiting expenses is the key to success. For the hotel, it’s free entertainment. For you, it is free accommodation.

A win-win situation. I also played in many cafes in the United States. One of the coffee shops that I played was also a toaster, that is, they roast their own beans and make their own brands. I offered to take samples of his coffee to every house I touch and drop them off. If the place places an order for coffee, the roaster covers my lodging and meals for the trip. Pretty sweet, right? Necessity is the mother of invention.

If you really want to make a living by acting, all of the above will help. However, if you’re not willing to risk it all, don’t bother. I don’t want to rain on your parade and I understand that we all have obligations. But if God has placed a true calling on your life, there is nothing that should stand in your way. It is very easy to find excuses. I did it for years. And he was miserable playing part-time and getting little hits. Every second that I wasn’t doing what God put in my heart, I felt disobedient. If you do not feel the same, that same indescribable pain that is in your heart, the pain that affects everything in your life, your work, marriage, relationships, etc.

Full time is not for you. And you know what, that’s fine. Accept the truth if God calls you to a part-time ministry. Do your best. You cannot force the will of God. But for those of you who know it’s all or nothing. I greet you and pray that God will give you the courage to answer the call and leave all reason behind. I’ll see you on the way!

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