The Gospel Music Industry Vs The Gospel Music Ministry

There are thousands of artists (Major and Independent) that are not only involved in the Industry of Gospel Music but also the Ministry of Gospel Music. I, like many of you, have one time or another, intertwined the two as one but they are different yet they can come together depending on the vision of the artist. The word “Industry” refers to the production of an economic good or service. (Wikipedia). It’s important to understand that the Gospel Music industry can involve ministry but ministry is not the focal point. The focal point is the marketing, distributing and selling of products for money. Without money, an industry would fall and that’s why so many artists and some major labels in the past have fallen because of the lack of financial resources due to various reasons. The Gospel Music Industry is comprised of major Corporations, small labels, mom and pop record stores,( which are vastly dying) promoters,media, marketers, publicists, radio personalities and churches.The industry is primarily ruled and influenced by major labels who have the necessary funding to reach the average Gospel Music buyer with their products and services. The labels products are their artists and the products they create(CD’s, DVD’s etc) and depending on the success of those products other residuals are created such as royalties, merchandise etc.

The Gospel Music Industry does not have to follow any moral or religious code nor do the artists they promote. They concentrate on making music that people want to hear. When major labels sign artists, they look at the talent and marketability of the artist. If lifestyles were a prerequisite to being signed by a label then there would be no labels because most of the artists that we know and love have lifestyles that wouldn’t measure up. There would be no industry. Just think, if you only bought products from corporations and artists with whom you knew were operating by biblical principals, how easy would it be for you to get what you wanted although it would be interesting to know how many corporate executes, who promote Gospel Music, actually know Jesus as their personal Savior. To the Gospel Music Industries credit, many songs, videos, songbooks and award shows have been beneficial to the everyday lives of Christians around the world. Gospel Music would not be where it is today if it weren’t for the Gospel Music Industry but let’s not spiritualize it folks. It is what it is. I’m in the industry and if I don’t make money, I can’t continue to make records and travel. Major planning and implementation makes major artists. Artists don’t do well just because their anointed. Their are people in our local churches who are anointed and if they had the right business model behind them they would be selling records too.

The Gospel Music Ministry is different. When one is in the ministry of Gospel Music, their primary focus is the salvation and uplifting of souls. Many artists, major or independent, when they step on stage their goal is to minister God’s music to the waiting audience or congregation. The ministry is not focused on money, although money is needed to survive, the ministering of music is essential to their mission in life. I would venture to say that most Gospel Artists make an attempt to minister Gods music every time they are offered an opportunity. However sometimes personal ambition and arrogance gets in the way. The Gospel Music Industry and Ministry can walk together if the artist desires it to be so. When you are sold out for God your integrity means more to you than money. You thrive off of ministry and you let the ministry drive your business and not vice versa. I hear some of you saying now, I would prefer ministry over industry well let me tell you that without an Industry you and I would not be exposed to the ministries of most of our wonderful Gospel Artists.

Networking at Music Industry Conferences, Trade Shows and Events

Just as in all industries, every year a number of trade shows take place where you can gain information on the music business, meet companies and people that will help you make your music career more successful.

Music business trade shows usually have a conference attached, where you can hear the latest requirements from A & R executives from both the independent and major record labels. The conference will also include seminars from leading industry figures talking about the latest trends in the music industry.

The seminars will give you invaluable business intelligence from within the music industry and will give you an edge when it comes to trying to sell your music. You will know who wants what and why, and you will have more success in the music industry because you are focused on the facts of what the industry wants from you, rather than hoping someone will ‘discover’ you.

Recent topics at PopKomm, the leading music conference in Berlin, Germany for example related to getting your music sold independently online, getting filmmakers to use your music in their films, and selling music through mobile phones direct to the consumer.

All these ways of making money from your music are now available to independent musicians like you, thanks to the power of the internet, and you don’t have to be a big multinational company any longer to do any of these things. Some of these ideas are explored in more detail in the chapter of this book covering independent distribution.

Use trade shows as ways to meet potential partner companies and people who can help you take your music to a wider audience. When you register with the trade show organisers you will get access to the names, addresses, email, website, and direct telephone numbers of all the companies, executives, and people that are attending the show.

Make sure you plan well in advance by researching each person thoroughly to ensure you are a good match – do not meet people who are not matched to your music, concentrate only on the relevant people in your genre to ensure the best use of your time. After you have researched the prospective people relevant to your music, you should email each person on your list, and follow up with a phone call. Be persistent, they will be keen to meet you but you have to pester them to get a firm meeting time as they are usually very busy people.

Ask them for a meeting at the conference, get a firm time to see them, make sure in your initial contact you screen them again by asking lots of questions about what they are looking for at the show, and see how your music would fit to their needs. Get them to commit to a time to meet you. You now have a chance to do real business with the people that can take your music to the next level, your future business partners with whom you will share your success!

Plan each meeting at the trade show by writing a list of 10 questions you want to ask so you feel confident about what you want to get out of the meeting.

Make sure you take a list of your meetings to the show, with everyone’s mobile numbers written down. Trade shows can be crowded places, and it’s easy to miss people when there are hundreds of people crowded in the lounges and stand areas, so 5 minutes before your meeting give each prospect a ring so you can make sure you don’t miss each other.

When you have the meeting keep it to no more than 15 minutes. This is a great marketing ploy, which shows that you are busy with other appointments, and you have no time to waste because you and your music are in demand.

Make sure that you make an action point review on what any next steps might be after the meeting, and one week after the trade show, follow up with an email or phone call to the person you met to progress your actions.

You will be surprised how quickly opportunities within the music industry become available when you follow this plan. Just like any business, it’s made up of people communicating with each other, and trade shows offer an ideal opportunity to get out from your rehearsal room, recording room, or just from behind your computer screen and meet the people involved

Simon Adams is a music industry professional, speaker and author, and specializes in coaching and assisting independent artists, bands and labels to market and promote their music using the most cost effective tools and techniques available.