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  • Money for Our music

    For those of us who write original songs to be used in church, it is so easy for us to get attached to the songs we write. After all, we put heart and a little soul into them--they become a part of us in a way. In the past it could have been considered an artform that was generally upheld and in some ways venerated by the church. Refer to "The Messiah" by Handel as a big example. Yet in these latter times, the "artform/craft" has seen changes due to technology. These have brought a mix of good and bad results: with the advent of "cheap" recording gear, almost anyone can write and record songs. So, we now have many people writing songs, more than ever in the past. This is a good thing. More variety, more mesages, more testimonies to God's grace and power! But, i have noticed a down side to this: with the inventing of iTunes, Amazon, Sound cloud and other similar intities, we have reduced our songs down to a disposible commodity to be sold for 99cents a pop! Then, to keep the flow going, we need to write songs as a production assembly line. Get out our latest album. Use the latest gizmos and effects in our recordings. Is there any answers to this? Should there be any answers to this? I have no idea, other than this: Don't get so attached to the songs that we write, write good qaulity stuff, just don't nitpick over details, dont spend 20 hours mixing the tracks down. Don't drive yourself crazy obsessing over word phrases--after all, the song will be "replaced" soon with somthing newer.

  • #2
    It is easy to release stuff and there is a glut of new music. But there are also a lot of voices calling for deeper songs, for better songs, for more transformational songs, for more theological songs. Having a lot of mediocre stuff because it will be replaced soon will make it harder to separate the really good stuff from the rest.

    You can obsess on the songwriting side, or on the production side. Decent production is not hard to come by. You can do it yourself, you can have it done. Its kind of a commodity. If you are a band or artist and need a product to leave with people its worth getting a good production done so you can offer a quality product. But great songs, I have found, are not really a commodity, they are hard to locate. When you have them, these are the ones worth investing time in. Rewriting, massaging, getting a good recording. Make them available in easy to use forms like multitracks, etc. Have your chord charts freely available. Make a youtube video to share them. Make it easy for people to use them. Source your church with them.

    The title of the thread is 'money for our music'. For the vast majority of writers, the target might realistically be set as playing shows and selling enough CDs to make it worthwhile, or finding artists who might be interested in recording your songs and, if your lucky, getting small royalties. By and large, for worship writers, the goal is really to resource the church, I think. Making any real money is going to be hard. But its worth the effort to make great art anyway! And definitely worth it to tell God's story in a fresh, new way, if you are blessed with the talent to do so.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mikeys97 View Post
      ... we have reduced our songs down to a disposible commodity to be sold for 99cents a pop! Then, to keep the flow going, we need to write songs as a production assembly line. Get out our latest album. Use the latest gizmos and effects in our recordings. Is there any answers to this? Should there be any answers to this? I have no idea, other than this: Don't get so attached to the songs that we write, write good qaulity stuff, just don't nitpick over details, dont spend 20 hours mixing the tracks down. Don't drive yourself crazy obsessing over word phrases--after all, the song will be "replaced" soon with somthing newer.
      To me, it all depends with how you, as the creator, feel about it. If that's all you want to do, we reap what we sow. If you want to crank out some songs and make some quick cash, go for it. If you want your work to mean something, then don't, because you will get an empty, hollow, experience. That's where people in the industry crash and burn- they forego their real dream to follow the money, and they get used and abused until they dry up and get thrown out- like about 30 pop stars you can think of without trying.

      If you want to get whatever is in your head into someone else's head, then do whatever you need- if it's 20 hours of mixing down, if it's fretting over details most people can't hear, then do it. Be true to what you want and the vision God has placed in your heart. Maybe you won't make it on iTunes or Amazon, or wherever, but you can look back in 20 years and be proud you wrote something that means something to you.

      There is a void of organic songs without a bunch of autotuned vocals, empty cliches, and synthetic rhythms. It's like we all thought TV dinners and microwave everything was great, but I don't know too many people that wouldn't want a home-cooked meal over a Hungry-man from the microwave.

      So don't throw in the towel just because it looks grim. There's more to it than we can see, especially when God's involved.
      If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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      • #4
        To be honest, digital distribution did not create the "mediocre filler music" paradigm. Artists have been doing that for decades.

        To be honest, I find this new model refreshing, because it takes away the recording as the primary impetus to create music and puts it back on the stage where it belongs. For decades, record companies have put a stranglehold on who gets "signed" and puts out music, and artists that "recoup" get the big marketing dollars. Then they can belch out whatever crap they want, make sure there are one or two solid singles, tour for a year, and take three years off. Seriously, think about how often an major label album has 10 out of 12 solid cuts. It happens, sure, but not often.

        Now, artists have to hit the road - literally - and put their music in front of people. In smaller venues, generally. You know, be musicians.

        We do some amazing, powerful songs in our services that are maybe being done in a dozen churches, or in a hundred churches, because of digital distribution and things like Soundcloud. Songs we would have never found if we waited for them to show up on the next Songs4Worship album.

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        • #5
          I totally get the idea of "disposable commodity". In a way worship music as a genre kind of bothers me, but this is how the world monetizes songs. With the invention of the home recording gear it has democratized music. in other words, it has taken the creation of music by the few (record companies), and given it to the people. With the piracy of music so prevalent (yes even in the "Christian world) it has given us this 99 cents model. (thank you Apple). My point I guess is try not to look at the 99 cents per song as a bad thing. Look at it as a freedom for creators to express themselves. God throughout the ages has used technology to continue His cause and iTunes is one of those mediums; God won't stop there either.

          I think it has a lot to do with our motives as well. it is easy to mix motive with ambition. I write because I love to. I write because I want to use and the gifts to a talents that God has given me, and if the world assigns 99 cents to it then, "it is what it is". However, we as Christian songwriters know what the real worth is. As Forsest Gump might say, "The world does as the world is". Let the world be the world and let songwriters for God be songwriters.

          There has been melodies I have forgotten before I could write them down or half written songs that never made it to iTunes or tops on the Christian charts that are worth far more than 99 cents. If our motives are pure and we have laid our gift at the feet of Jesus it is called worship.

          Chris Draper
          Creative Director SING Music Publishing
          chris@singmusicpublishing.com
          SINGmusicpublishing.com
          Songwriters4god.blogspot.com
          Full Sail Student

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          • #6
            I'm sorry if I sound pessimistic here, but this has been a rather depressing subject for me for some time now. Like many I've enjoyed the benefits of the new music paradigm which allows almost anyone to record, publish, and sell their own material. Having been involved years ago in the old recording system I certainly can appreciate the streamlining of the system and the open access it provides to both music makers and music listeners. But it has come at the VERY heavy price of the general decline of professional musicianship and songwriting.

            The drummer in our praise and worship team, who is 23 years old, is currently involved in making a CD with his secular band to sell at their gigs. This is a necessity as many of the major gigs they play as warm up to bigger acts are not paid performances. Therefore the only money they will make will be from CD and t-shirt sales. This is fairly typical of how this new industry works for most bands. Their hope is to eventually get noticed of course with some larger distributor/promoter and eventually be headliners. But here's the problem. I was recently asked by his band to work with one of their guitar players to help him with his guitar technique and general music knowledge. In doing so I was stunned to find out he didn't even have a basic understanding of chord structure. His entire approach was based on power chords constructed basically of playing on two strings of his guitar using very heavy distortion to make it sound large. Under the old music paradigm he would never have been allowed to be involved in a recording session with that level of capability. In the current system this works because the band is a "niche" band playing a certain style of music. As long as they don't deviate from that style, his work is passable. Because this new way of recording involves each musician individually recording their tracks, his work can be massaged and edited to be passable, no matter how many takes it involves...because fixing it is nothing more than cutting, pasting, and potentially using some digital magic to fix the problems.

            Now, let's contrast this to the "old school" method of studio recording. Get a copy of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album and listen to it. Realize that album, as were most of it's day, recorded initially by the whole band in the studio playing together. Some individual "fixing" was done along the way, but the initial cut was recorded as a group under the guidance of a professional producer with many years of experience. Notice also the range of styles being used in the music and compare it to what tends to be produced today in which there's very little range or flexibility in any group's styling. The difference here is "time in the trenches".

            We may bemoan the old system for it's undemocratic way of promotion, but it enforced a certain high level of musicianship both in song writing and performance. I remember as a young man being "crushed" many times by feedback from a producer telling me I wasn't ready to be in a recording studio or that my songs needed more work in order to be presentable. Although hurt by their feedback I took their advice and worked on it. As a result my range of skills as both a musician and songwriter increased until I was finally ready to be in a studio. What I see happening now is a loss of knowledge being passed along about professional music construction. Things like dynamics, counterpoint, metaphors, song "hooks" and "lifts", themes, styling consistent with the message....and on and on and on. Without this valuable feedback songs become what they are nowdays...by and large disposable commodities.

            I will admit there are some great ideas coming out in this new era, but those ideas can't become great and memorable songs without the help of some professional input and guidance...which is sorely missing now.
            Last edited by DunedinDragon; 09-09-2013, 05:51 AM.
            The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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            • #7
              In doing so I was stunned to find out he didn't even have a basic understanding of chord structure. His entire approach was based on power chords constructed basically of playing on two strings of his guitar using very heavy distortion to make it sound large.
              I hate to burst your bubble, but you just described fully half of the arena bands in the 80s.

              I've been to concerts for major acts where I've literally gone "who are these guys?" when I've heard them play live. (I'm looking at you, Lars Ulrich) I once took my daughter and her friends to a concert of a popular band, and from my vantage point I could see the guy backstage with the Les Paul who was actually playing the lead lines. Alec John Such, who was the bass player for Bon Jovi during their peak, reportedly only got the gig because he looked the part, and supposedly Hugh McDonald retracked all the bass parts on the band's early albums. (Which Dave Grohl clearly did on The Colour and the Shape

              My point is, musicianship has often taken a back seat to "image" in the recording industry.

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              • #8
                Oh, you didn't burst my bubble. It's been coming for a very long time, my point is that the new open recording industry has opened the floodgates. Every era has had it's examples of appearance over substance (I'm looking at you Monkees). But the years of hard, dedicated work necessary to achieve something significant in the music industry tends to no longer be a factor.
                The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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                • #9
                  I wholeheartedly agree, dunedin

                  Another great example is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

                  When they did the cash register loop for "Money", they had individual pieces of track taped together that had to be cut in the exact length to keep time. Even he recordings were done by hand with namely Roger Waters recording the different tracks and he and Alan Parsons put them together.

                  For the "On The Run" sequence, they built one synth track, sped it up, threw in the canned hi-hat, and for the rest, they had about 5 people hovering over the mixer- one person was adding the mad laugh effect, one person was panning left to right, another person was adding a phaser effect, it was very laborious. Engineers and the and worked together.

                  I read an article (I think in a musicians friend catalog) about a band who won a contest to record at Abbey Road by the same engineer that did Sgt. Pepper. The band actually did it old school without Pro Tools.

                  They were recording backing vocals together, and it took several takes to get it right. The engineer had to coach the band how to sing together. they had to do the same thing with the bass & drum/rhythm sections. The band's response was "The engineers just took the tracks one at a time and fixed it in Pro Tools."

                  There are good bands still, but it's hard to find.
                  If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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                  • #10
                    I read an article (I think in a musicians friend catalog) about a band who won a contest to record at Abbey Road by the same engineer that did Sgt. Pepper. The band actually did it old school without Pro Tools.
                    Ironically, George Martin's AIR Studios is considered not only one of the top studios in the world for analogue recording of classical music, but also one of the top studios in the world for the use of technology. Sir George (who's pushing 90) is supposedly pretty good using ProTools.

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                    • #11
                      What does any of this have to do with the title of the thread?

                      8-)



                      what? me worry?

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                      • #12
                        Money? What's that???

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