Set New Goals
Last week we talked about a few relatively simple ways to measure your progress. While you’re working on that, I’d like to introduce an additional tip to aid you in your overall development as an artist and minister. Once you have a clear sense of just how far you’ve come, the next vital step in your forward progress is to set new goals.
To give you a concrete sense of what I mean, let’s refer to the same key areas we presented as primary places to measure your progress.
Area #1: Creative growth.
If you’ve taken the time to review your old songs, audio recordings and videos of your performances, hopefully you’ve been able to mark key ways in which you’ve developed creatively since you began this journey. The best way to ensure continued forward momentum is to narrow down a few specific ways in which you can improve over the next year.
Your list might include any of the following:
• To become more skilled in writing lyrics.
• To improve in my creation of melodies.
• To increase my vocal range.
• To develop and improve my vocal tone.
• To focus on my stage presence.
The possibilities may be endless,…
Continue Reading | Published: September 05, 2011 | 0 Comments
Measure Your Progress
One of the great casualties in the battle to accomplish your dream is proper perspective. For many of us, once we’ve committed to our vision, we can become so focused on the final destination that we lose all sense of how far we’ve come.
This week, I’d like you to do yourself a favor. Instead of checking off another item on your career aspirations “to do” list, please take some time to measure your progress. Even if you can’t pull sales figures for your music yet, or calculate a significant amount of income earned through your artistry this year, there are several ways to mark your development.
To get you started, here are three key forms of measurement:
Measurement #1: Mark your creative growth.
One of the easiest ways to assess your creative growth is to review your earlier work. Pull out your old tracks, watch videos of your old performances, and review your early lyrics. Compare those pieces to your most recent work. Do you see how far you’ve come?
While you may be tempted to be embarrassed by the earliest steps in your journey, resist that urge. It’s a wonderful thing to see the great…
Continue Reading | Published: August 29, 2011 | 0 Comments
Know Your “Whys”
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a conference for college educators in Music Business and Entertainment Industry Studies sponsored by a university in my city. During one of the sessions, the speaker began to go around the room asking attendees at random about their purpose for working in the field. Although I was not one of the people called upon to respond, my wheels began turning: “Why do I do this?”
I was relieved to find a definitive answer without having to dig for very long. I was even more relieved to find that my answer to that question was in line with my core ideals, my worldview, and my primary passions.
I use the word “relieved” because I genuinely was. I’m learning it is not a given that we have managed to both build and maintain our lives upon a foundation of purposefulness.
It’s funny how much of life can be lived virtually at random, even for those of us who consider ourselves to be committed Christians. Sure, most of us devoted to the faith share a biblical worldview, including the notion that we were created by God and for God and that all of what we…
Continue Reading | Published: August 22, 2011 | 0 Comments
3 Tips To Develop As A Songwriter
This week we’re turning our attention toward one of the most important and least addressed segments of our creative community—-songwriters.
As core Gospel songwriters, because so much of our music is meant to be performed within the context of local church services, there is a tendency to focus on singable hooks and vamps, often at the expense of theme and song structure. We can truly fill a song service with an inspired collection of hooks and vamps alone; however, it’s important for those who intend to make their living from songwriting and to leave a mark on this marketplace with more than a single hit, to challenge themselves to develop their craft.
With those things in mind, I wanted to give you three quick tips for plotting a more effective course of development for yourself as a songwriter.
Tip #1: Study the masters.
In almost every creative discipline, an early and ongoing part of developing both knowledge and skill is to study the significant works of the past. It’s the reason writers of books read classic literature, artists study art history, and music majors study classical composers.
Gospel songwriting should be no different. If you…
Continue Reading | Published: August 15, 2011 | 1 Comments
Welcome to Branding Part 4
Hopefully by now you’ve had time to do some real thinking, reflection, and even journaling about the four key questions I posed a few weeks ago as a foundation for building your brand. You’ll recall the questions were as follows:
• What are my core values (as a person, as an artist, as a minister)?
• What is my distinct message?
• What are the elements of my unique sound?
• Who is my target audience?
Now I’d like to challenge you just a bit further. Please take your answers to those four questions and reduce them to 1-2 sentence statements. For example, “My core values as a person are ___________________”. (Feel free to fill in the blank with your answer to that question.) Don’t worry about being fancy or using big words. Just use the notes you’ve jotted to form a few brief, clear statements.
When you’ve finished, write or type the sentences all together. You’ll want to keep this, so please make sure you’re using a clean sheet of paper, a new computer document, or a fresh notebook page.
Now, read all of those sentences together aloud and really listen to yourself. …
Continue Reading | Published: August 08, 2011 | 1 Comments
A Quick Recess
For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the concept of branding and understanding the role it plays in the new music industry. While you’re spending some real, Holy-Spirit-led time thinking and praying about the four questions I introduced last week (see GI_TOTW for 7/25/11), I thought I’d give you a quick recess.
It’s funny how we lose the concept of recess once we leave grade school. Something that was once important enough to be scheduled into our days along with lunch, reading, writing, and story time is a relatively unknown experience in our adult lives.
Some of us may plan and actually find money for vacations, but even those trips mark only a few weeks out of a given year. And, if your vacations are anything like mine have been, we often return from them tired and unrefreshed.
I fear that we have not learned the art of rest.
I must admit that for most of my life rest has been a “four-letter word” in my vocabulary. For as long as I can remember I have hated to slow down and hated to sleep. In fact, if you ever have the chance to speak to my dear…
Continue Reading | Published: August 01, 2011 | 1 Comments
Welcome to Branding Part 3
We’ve lived with branding all of our lives. For at least the past century, products have been sold and bought as the result of increasingly sophisticated forms of advertising, designed to lure us—-the consumer—-away from one product to another similar product. Whether it was the cola wars (Pepsi vs. Coke), the burger wars (Burger King vs. McDonald’s), the coffee wars (Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Starbucks), the computer wars (Mac vs. PC), or the countless other rounds of competition between product lines, the goal has been to unseat some “number one” to become our new favorite product by way of branding.
We’re used to this. In fact, as consumers I would dare to say we look forward to it. If you have any doubt, ask yourself why the commercials during the Super Bowl each year have become a spectacle of their own, sometimes making the game a mere backdrop.
What’s new in this digital age is the notion that due to the overwhelming number of product choices we now have in every area of our lives, branding is more than a sales method. It is, quite simply, a necessity if we are ever to distinguish any one…
Continue Reading | Published: July 25, 2011 | 2 Comments
Welcome to Branding Part 2
Last week we laid a foundation for the concept of branding as the primary marketing tool in today’s music industry. In fact, we went so far as to say that in the digital age, while music may be your artistic format, your brand is your product.
For many of us that’s a radical, maybe even scary, thought. So before we jump deeper into that discussion, I’d like to use our time together this week to offer some clarification and to provide a more detailed perspective.
First, that bit of clarification: For those of us in Gospel I believe there is a huge difference between branding and self-promotion.
In the gospel music marketplace while branding is without question a powerful method to expand our reach as artists and musicians, we shouldn’t use branding as a tool to build platforms for our own celebrity. On the contrary, we should use the methodologies of branding to win new territory for the Kingdom of God.
The ultimate goals of gospel music are to spread the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be an expression of worship to God, and to bring hope and encouragement to Believers. Although…
Continue Reading | Published: July 18, 2011 | 1 Comments
Your Product Is Your Brand
If you’ve been reading music industry trade magazines or listening to business and entertainment news over the past few years, more than likely you’ve heard reports that the CD is dead. In fact music industry sales figures do show a steep decline in CD sales—-some estimate a more than 50% loss in CD sales over the past decade. If that’s true, what product should indie and aspiring artists be trying to create?
Simply put, for anyone pursuing a creative career in today’s music industry, your product is your brand.
You may recall the following definition from a previous entry in this blog: The American Marketing Association defines brand as “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers…” For our purposes, I prefer to think of a brand as a set of elements that identifies your artistry and demonstrates the reasons you are unique in the marketplace.
The most successful indies and aspiring artists in today’s gospel music marketplace will be those who are willing to move beyond thinking of themselves only in terms of the music and to consider the…
Continue Reading | Published: July 11, 2011 | 0 Comments
Empower Your Dream.
I love creative people, particularly artists, musicians, singers, and songwriters. It is a beautiful thing to be graced by God with the gift to draw from your thoughts and experiences, reshaping them into elements that express emotion, color, and truth through song. Great artists give life to our dreams.
I am inspired by that concept every day, which is why I’ve made it my goal in this little blog to give back to the creative minds who’ve blessed me by helping the next generation of artists to add substance to their dreams.
Today it’s time for a pep talk. If you’re someone with a dream for your gift, if you’ve longed for the chance to share your music or ministry with a broader audience, if you’ve ever turned to the pages of this blog looking for information that might be the missing page in your success story, you are my intended audience right now.
I’m going to spend the next few hundred words coaching you as hard as I possibly can. Think of this as the high-intensity cardio part of your mental workout for the day.
Consider these bits of truth:
• The loving God of the universe…
Continue Reading | Published: July 04, 2011 | 0 Comments