So you’re ready to record your first cd! What an exciting time! Maybe you’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, and finally the time is here. You have the opportunity and finances to pursue music ministry in a whole new way. There’s a few things to think about before you embark on this journey! And believe me it is a journey! You’ll travel down paths that you may not have anticipated, but if it’s your calling and passion, it will be an adventure!
- Be prepared! Sounds simplistic, doesn’t it… “Well, of course, I’m prepared,” you’re thinking. I mean, be really be prepared, especially for the recording session. Unless you have a $50,000 budget, you’re most likely not going to get to run over your material very much. You have to know your stuff inside and out well before hand. Try to prepare by recording yourself at home before your time in the studio. You may notice a few problems with pitch that you can work on, or possibly sloppy guitar playing. Work to get it the best you can before you’re in studio , because as the clock ticks your wallet will shrink.
- Think about your goals for your ministry. Are you going to promote on radio? If so, you need to have your tracks radio ready. You need to ask the right questions because your tracks may not be radio ready and that will hurt your chances of getting radio air-play. What sounds great on a CD may pale in comparison to what sounds great played on the radio.
- It will cost more than you think. There are all types of fees to consider, even if you get a recording package. You have to know what that package includes and what it doesn’t. Are you just getting a master cd and no duplicates to sell? Are you getting jewel cases and artwork for the CD? How about the leaflet and shrink wrapping of the jewel case? Be aware that there are royalties that you need to pay if you’re not producing original songs. There are mechanical copyright royalties that are paid per song to the songwriters. Those are paid through publishers of the song. You are responsible to find out where the payments go for the songs you record. If you’ve considered digital downloads online then you’ll need digital licensing for each song as well. Lastly if you plan to do a YouTube video with a cover (non-original) song you must have a synchronization license. There’s a pretty hefty price on synchronization licenses. If all your music is original than your good to go!
- Plan on an advertising budget. There’s radio, and depending on your budget it can be pretty costly. There are alternatives…you can contact radio stations yourself and send them a copy of your CD and they may give you a spin. It also depends on the genre of your music which stations you contact. There are many online stations that would love to play your music. You will need posters, business cards, a press kit, website, domain name, Facebook musician page. All of these are ways to help get your music some attention. It’s a great time to be an Independent (non-signed) musician because there’s a lot that you can do now. However, there are a lot of us and you need to just grow where you are planted. A lot of Christian singers such as myself are weekend warriors. We have a home church and sing on the weekends within our local area or sometimes out-of-town when the opportunity presents itself. Then there are those that are in full-time ministry on the road with a tour bus, booking agent and promoter.
- Be ready to invest a lot of time. No matter if you’re a weekend warrior, or working towards a full-time ministry on the road. It will take a lot of personal time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and having fans of your music doesn’t come easy. You will wear many hats as a booking agent, promoter, singer, songwriter, website designer etc. etc.etc.
As Christian musicians , I think we can be somewhat torn about the business part of ministry. I know it’s been a point of contention for me at times.. How to get my music out there without feeling like I’m tooting my own horn too loud. I think as creative types, overall, we’re not comfortable with the business side of ministry. You may need someone to come along side and help you with that. And of course that’s great!
I’m including some links to resources that may be helpful to you as an Independent Recording Artist; this blog just covers the tip of the iceberg so just keep researching.