I created a resource a few years ago called "The 4 Pillars of Christian Music". Surprisingly, I've had a number of people come to me since then telling me how valuable it was for them to do an honest overview assessment of their music and marketing. So, in that same spirit, I'd like to update it a bit (back then, there was no Instagram or Snapchat, and mobile phones weren't as popular as they are now, for example) and add a twist to it for artists and songwriters recording music (that's you!) today.
Everything you do in marketing your music is built on 4 foundational pillars. Think of these as legs of a strong, sturdy table that will not quickly be broken. Here they are:
1. Your Faith
2. Your Creativity
3. Your Audience
4. Your Team
Each of them, without the other, in my opinion, does not make for a successful music ministry or career. We can become off balance if we don’t strengthen and build each one. And, each of them, no matter how big your impact or reach (whether you’re a singer in your local church or have a huge global following) determines your effectiveness or ultimate success in your music ministry.
In this blog post, I am going to walk you through a simple assessment of each of your pillars. Write down your answers. Then, review what you've written and write the 3 most important areas of action for each pillar to focus on moving forward.
This is the first step in the process if we were working together in a coaching relationship. Completing this step will give you a clear understanding of where you are in the process of marketing your music ministry.
THE 4 PILLARS ASSESSMENT
I'm going to ask you a series of questions related to each of the 4 pillars of your music ministry. Jot down your answers to each question. Some answers require just one word. But keep your answers to no more than 2-3 sentences per question. Each question should be answerable in 5 minutes or less.
After you’ve completed your assessment, write down your top 3 takeaways from each pillar.
Once completed it, place it somewhere where you can see it every day for the next month. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important to you in this stage of your music ministry.
Okay, lets get to the assessment. We’ll start with Pillar #1...
How would you rate your relationship with God on a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being pathetically poor, 10 being 100% solid.
Why is making Christian music important to you?
How often do you pray about your ministry & seek God’s direction for it?
How often do you read your bible in an average week?
How often do you go to church in an average month?
How often do you minister in your church in an average month?
How often do you minister outside of your church in an average month?
What is your calling or gifting in Christian music? Are you primarily a singer, songwriter, musician, worship leader, band member or some combination of these?
What denomination do you affiliate with?
What message(s) do you believe God is calling you to minister to others?
Where do you believe God is calling you to minister – to other believers, to the world or both?
What causes or social issues are you passionate about (child sponsorship, crisis pregnancy, missions, etc.)?
What do you believe God wants you to accomplish with your music?
Do you want to do music ministry full time or part time?
How much money do you need to make in order to do music ministry full time?
Have you thought about how much money you would like to give or tithe from you earn? If so, explain.
Do you have accountability partners or a board of advisors that you meet with on a regular basis? How often do you meet?
Do you have a spiritual mentor? If so, what is their name?
What other resources (books) do you use to build your faith?
Now that you’ve completed this series of questions on your faith pillar, pick 3 of the most important areas you’d like to work on for the next 30 days. Write them down under FAITH in your journal.
What genre of music are you writing/making/producing (Contemporary Christian, Gospel, Worship, Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Southern Gospel, Instrumental Piano, etc.)?
Describe the talents God has given you (singing/writing/playing an instrument/leading worship)?
What are you doing to improve on your God-given talent?
How often in a normal week do you practice your craft?
How much time do spend alone listening to God per week?
How often do you read fiction books for inspiration?
How often do you read non-fiction / self-improvement / Christian non-fiction books that spur your creativity and craft?
Does reading scripture inspire you? Please explain why or why not?
How often per month do you meet with others who are creatively gifted that encourage or support you? If you don’t meet with a group yet, but would like to, what are you going to do about it?
Is it important to you that your pastor or someone in leadership at your church review your creative works for spiritual integrity? If so, but you haven’t done so, who are you going to ask in the next week to do this?
Now that you’ve completed this series of questions on your creativity pillar, pick 3 of the most important areas you’d like to work on for the next 30 days. Write them down under CREATIVITY in your journal.
Who is your audience? Describe the demographic of the people that follow you and consume your content and music. How old are they? Percentage female vs. male? What is their denominational background? What part of the country/world do they live? How much money do they make?
What does my audience care about? What are their interests and concerns?
What cities/regions of the country/world do you minister music most often?
Do you have a method for collecting email addresses, names, cel phone, and are you keeping a record of that information? Where is it stored?
Do you have your audience's information broken down by region? If you travel across more than one region of the country, it’s important that you can notify your audience you are coming in advance.
How often do you communicate via email, text or social media? Describe how you do this?
Do you blog, make videos or provide free content your audience consumes on a regular basis? Why or why not? How do you do this?
Have you ever surveyed your followers and asked them what kind of music and products they would like you to make for them? Do you know why they follow you and what they're most interested in?
Do you have recordings or other content that you're selling or streaming now? In what format are you making them available to consume? Streaming, Downloads, CDs?
Do you know your numbers? How many do you sell or stream regularly?
Do you have merchandise or swag? What kinds of sway do you have? If you don't have anything else to sell at live shows, what would you ideally like to sell? What do you think your audience would pay for?
Do you have a way of tracking how many visitors you have to your website each month (Google Analytics)? If so, how many unique visitors visit your website every month?
How about social media? How many followers do you currently have on your various socials (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, etc)?
Do you have a Twitter account? How many followers do you have?
How many contacts do you have in your database?
Now that you’ve completed this series of questions on your audience pillar, pick 3 of the most important areas you’d like to work on for the next 30 days. Write them down in your journal under AUDIENCE.
Do you have family and friends who support you? Describe each one and what role they play in supporting your ministry.
List 5 people in your life that encourage your music ministry. List 5 people in your life that are a drain on your music ministry. Focus your time and energy on the 5 that encourage you.
Who are your champions (other than friends or family)? A champion is someone who would do just about anything to support you – they have demonstrated a belief in you and are people you’ve come to rely on to do the important work of booking you concerts or hosting events or promoting you to others free of charge. Name some here.
Who handles your finances, accounting, taxes and bookkeeping?
Who handles any legal questions?
Who acts as your manager, if anyone?
Have you recorded an album? Who is your producer/partner in that?
Are you signed with a record label or publisher? Who is your contact for that?
Are you with a performing rights society? ASCAP, BMI, SESAC?
Is your music available on Apple Music, iTunes or Spotify or any other music platforms? If so, how are you getting your content on there?
Have you manufactured your own CDs? If so, who is your manufacturer and what is the price you’re paying for your CDs?
Do you promote your music to radio and do you have someone calling radio stations?
Who handles your public relations (getting newspapers, magazines, bloggers, social media coverage, etc. to write about you)?
Who handles your social media marketing?
Who creates and manages your website?
Who books your shows and events?
Do you have promoters (who book your shows and sell your tickets) that you work with in parts of the country?
When you perform live, how are you compensated? How are you paid? Are you paid an honorarium plus expenses, love offering, ticket sales? How much do you earn per average performance?
Who creates and manufactures your merchandise?
Who runs your merch table when you play live?
Do you partner with a para-church organization such as Compassion, Food For The Hungry, Hands & Feet or Worldvision?
Do you have musicians in your band? Do they play with you every time or do you change musicians when you travel?
Have you registered your songs with the US Copyright Office? (NOTE: this isn't essential right at the start...I spent far too much money paying for copyrights in the beginning.)
Do you have your worship songs registered with CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International)?
Do you need someone to help you organize the business side of your ministry? With what aspects of your business do you most need help?
Now that you’ve completed this series of questions on your team pillar, pick 3 of the most important areas you’d like to work on for the next 30 days. Write them down in your journal under TEAM.
Congratulations! You’ve done something most people never do – give their music ministry a thorough assessment. And you’ve written out some initial action steps to take in the next month! That's a huge accomplishment!
I hope this provided you with a tremendous amount of clarity on what steps to take next in your music and marketing.
I'll be writing something music marketing related each month for BRAVE WORSHIP. If you are interested in learning more about the marketing coaching I offer, please visit this page and fill out the form.
All good marketing starts and ends with a good list...and that's what we'll focus on next month with my next post! Until then, I'd love to hear from you!
Host of the Courage Cast, Entrepreneur, owner of multiple online businesses, Christian music executive, convention promoter, podcast and a top sales leader in network marketing. He's passionate about helping artists and songwriters find ways to do what they love full time!