Apr 11, 2010
Working with thousands of independent Christian artists over the years, I run into the same questions over and over again. I find some are playing darts in a pitch black room and can’t even see the dartboard. My philosophy is, “the more you know, the more you grow.” It helps turn on the lights! I also run into artists who think they know more than they actually do, and make poor decisions thinking it will help them skip steps to success. What appears to be the path of least resistance many times is the path of most.
I see this question often, “How Do I get started in my music mission?”
Too many folks start with a small amount of talent, a huge amount of local encouragment (pastor, mom, friends), an American idol mindset, and no plan at all. Too many people do music to create a mission. Sometimes we confuse being gifted musically with a calling, and having a calling implying that music is the tool we are supposed to use.
I think it is important to explore the mission we are called to, separate from the music we create. After calling is confirmed and the mission is defined, then we need to see if music fits that mission. Too many artists make that assumption and are in constant turmoil trying to make the one imply the other.
I think great advice is to “know where you want to go with your music and mission”… Andy Stanley calls it the principle of the path. If you just set out with no vision of where you’re going, you’ll run out of gas just driving around. You’ll work hard, but get nowhere.
Also, realize this, no one will take your calling and mission as seriously as you will. Get ready for rejection, apathy, complaining, lack of vision, etc. You will need thick skin to be an artist. Nothing frustrates creatives more than people not getting their art, or not engaging. Get over it, otherwise, it will get over you.
Trust that God will bring the right people your way when you are ready. Pay close attention to people He brings into YOUR world. Don’t scour THE world looking for people to save you. It is a waste of time. Pray for good people to come to YOUR world. This is what I do every day in running Indieheaven. I pray the Lord draws Godly and sincere people my way. Once they come into my world, I do my best to engage them. Some respond, some do not. Some join my mission, some do not.
Through this, I have learned these 3 very important items:
1- You MUST WORK hard AT your mission/calling/vision
2- You MUST PRAY hard FOR your mission/calling/vision
3- You MUST BE CONTENT with the PORTION that God has for your mission/calling/vision
If you can do these 3 things, God will bring INCREASE to your mission/calling/vision in HIS time.
You need to be intentional in what you are doing. You cannot expect to invest capfuls of work and thimbles of faith and expect God to overflow you with blessings and success. It simply does not happen that way. Keep your expectations in line with your investment. You cannot invest a penny and think that God will return to you a dollar in a day. It does not happen that way. It is a slow burn. You do not become muscle bound by lifting weights in one day.
We tend to be impatient people, I know I am. I want to see results right away from my investments. When I say investment, I do not mean just finances. It can be investment of time, investment into relationships, investment even of prayer. It’s like I think God is my own personal vending machine, dispensing what I want from Him right away. Just need to push the button for my favorite drink. Wrong, wrong, wrong way of thinking. That is an “entitlement attitude”.
I encourage you to first find out why you want to have a music mission. What is pushing your buttons? Is it fame? Is it fortune? Is it simply because you want to rock out for Jesus? All of these are not good reasons for anything we want to do.
Make service to others the reason for your mission, and do it with passion and excellence, and people will be drawn to you. Trust God for His provision. Remember, PROfessional VISION equals PROVISION.
I do hope you realize the desires of your heart. Here’s a great scripture for us to base our missions on. It is Psalm 51:16-17, from The Message Bible.
16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
I recently had an indie artist ask me how to market and promote themselves and their music. Here is my answer to them.
Firstly, create great content. People are drawn to excellence, and are rarely attracted by mediocrity. In everything you do, from your music, to your communication, branding, and anything else that can be consumed and judged, pursue excellence. Make sure to get opinions from people who are not family or friends.
The best way to market and promote what you are doing is to gather people and engage them as you enrich their lives through service. Use the tools available to you to social network, although do not spend too much time wasting time on social networks. If you are intentional, you can work social networks without spending too much time playing games, or reading others content. Concentrate on your content and have something relevant to share with your friends, fans and followers. You need to develop your story. What is it about you that is interesting, that people would be drawn to?
See, its more than just music these days, as anyone can record and make a song. There needs to be a story behind the song. What is your platform, other than being a Christ follower? (that is a given) What are you passionate about? Base your ministry around that platform. Or, if you feel led to the mainstream world, create the best music you can, and get it out there. Let people decide if they like it or not. You will know if they like it if they engage you or not. That is a good litmus test.
It is not easy starting something from scratch, it starts with 1, goes to 2, 3, 4 and so on. What stops most new artists from success is they give up to easily. Its like they use their music as bait to catch a whale, and they cast it out as far as they can. They reel it in a few times, don’t catch anything, and then they stop. However, if they looked at their feet, they would see many smaller fish.. minnows.. those minnows are people. The whales represent the industry. The whales these days are behind you, on the beach!
I encourage you to not try and catch whales. let the whales come to YOU, but that wont happen unitl you catch a ton of minnows. Its just the way it is. So, look for minnows, gather them in, and then give them something to help them grow.
Thats what I have done for years. Use me as an example of how to grow something from nothing, and see results that have lasted for years. Is it hard work? You bet.. Is it easy? Nope. But it is gratifying to know that you and the Lord have built something together that bears fruit.”
I hope you are encouraged by what I shared! Remember to seek constant and never ending improvement.
let’s be independent… together!
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