Editor’s Note: We’re happy to debut Scott A. Shuford's new column for Creator Worship in Worship Musician Magazine! Focusing on a balance between the business of music and ministry, Scott will take your questions and share successful strategies from his experiences working with Integrity Music, Worship Together, Vineyard Music, Rick Muchow (Saddleback Church,) and others in the areas of social media, public relations, advertising and promotion. Email questions on this topic for future consideration to Scott@CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com.
Welcome to the first of a multi-part series on marketing for worship leaders. I’m prayerfully excited to begin this dialogue with you in the hope that God will bring us together to help extend your reach in worship music and the arts.
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is “How do I make it in the music industry?” I’ve heard that question stated in many different ways, but the common thread is about making ends meet. For me, that is M + A = P which is the MAP™ I think I have for you. Can Ministry + Artistry = Profitability? Absolutely. How you get there will depend on your answers to several key questions. Let’s nail down the first question.
The first question to ask yourself is “What is your mission?” This is not as simple an answer as you might first think. What is your calling? What, exactly, has God called you to do? Who has he called you to minister to? Are you called to write music for the world to hear or are you called to minister within the church? For most of us, those are two completely separate things. Are you rock solid in your answer to this question?
I recently had a conversation with artist and worship leader Jadon Lavik. Our conversation together revealed to me that Jadon had answered this question, and more importantly, accepted his answer. I first met Jadon when he was a Saddleback Church music ministry intern. We’ve kept in touch over more than a few years. Soon after his internship, he was signed by BEC Recordings, hit the road opening for top Christian artists like Natalie Grant, and went on to put out a total of four albums. As I write this, he is just about to release his first new album in several years. He’s gone indie and is looking for his MAP.
His comments during our conversation signaled to me that Jadon has settled into his calling. As we talked about his experiences on the road and with the label, it was clear to me that he understands and accepts that in this season of his life, he is called to lead the church body into deeper relationship with Christ. Jadon is still a younger, new family kind of guy. With the platform he has, he can go several directions. He feels strongly that he is called to lead Soccer Moms and the rest of the body of Christ into deeper connection with God through singer-songwriter driven songs of worship and life. He’s not excluding any opportunity that might come up, but he is clear about his primary calling and audience.
This is a huge step for most artists to make: to understand the context within which their artistic gift is going to be the most useful within the body of Christ. I think it’s hard for us as creative, artistic people to not feel like we’re somehow cutting off our arms if we define our art, or God forbid limit it in some way. However, without firmly answering this question for yourself, you cannot pursue a path to stability and profitability. If you are called to be the next Switchfoot or P.O.D. then you are not on the same path as the next Chris Tomlin or Steven Curtis Chapman.
What is God’s calling on your music? Send me your answer to that question and briefly explain why you think what you think or know what you know.
Now that we will have settled the question of your mission, next time we’ll talk about the tectonic power shift that has affected the entire music industry and all music artists, including worship artists and ministers just like you.
Scott has led classes for worship leaders at NAMM and the Christian Musician Summits. He was recently featured in Adweek and is the CEO of FrontGate Media, the #1 pop-culture media group reaching the Christian audience (www.FrontGateMedia.com) and is the co-founder of Creator Worship: online radio for worship leaders (www.CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com).