Welcome to the second of a multi-part series on marketing for worship leaders.  I’m prayerfully excited about this dialogue with you in the hope that God will bring us together to help extend your reach in worship music and the arts.

In the last issue, we talked about one of the most frequently asked questions I hear: “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.  Last time, we talked about your mission. Now let’s talk about Fan Development.

There has been a massive power and opportunity shift within the music industry. I know you’ve seen it.  The CD is breathing its last gasps.  Billboard Magazine’s Sales Charts are topped by albums selling tens of thousands of albums in a week, not hundreds of thousands.  Music labels are in a tail spin, working hard to figure out how to survive.  And yet, music consumption has not decreased, it has most likely increased.  Unfortunately for those of us who like albums, the industry’s tendency to put out 10 mediocre songs along with 2 great ones finally came back to haunt them.  When the digital age provided consumers with a way around paying as much as $16.99 for a CD, they did. There is a whole generation of consumers who have never purchased a CD. CDs won’t completely die, but you can expect them to become more like vinyl is today.

At the same time, MySpace paved the way for Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to give artists the one thing they didn’t have before: direct contact with their consumers.  One of the my most profound disappointments in our industry is seeing the great artists of the Jesus Music movement come out the other end of the label and distribution systems having very little or even zero idea who bought all those records, tapes and CDs.  They have next to no direct connection to their own fanbase.

Where the label and distribution systems have lost power through declining sales and retail outlets, artists and artist managers have gained tremendous power to reach out and harvest their own fans. This has created exponential growth for any artist, especially a worship artist who has a church base to start from.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a label-hater. The labels and distribution systems can provide artists with great value.  Quality production, radio servicing and tour support are things most artists either can’t or don’t do well.

As artists, we need to stop thinking about how to sell our CDs. Instead we need to think about how to develop fans.  Isn’t that what you’ve wanted to do all along?  Don’t you want to write and play music that connects people to God? We are leading people in worship.  Leading requires relationship, so the real question becomes “How many ways can I have relationship with my audience?”

Imagine if you had 1000 fans that over the course of one year spent $100 with you or donated $100 to your ministry?  I bet you could work with a $100,000 annual budget!  Start thinking about all the things you can offer your fans, then think about which of them you can monetize.  A big part of your relationship in Fan Development will be free offerings that pour into your fans.  Devotionals, encouragement, teaching, leading at your church, leading in your city: all great.  You may decide that giving away your music is part of your Fan Development.  Instead of selling an average 10-12 song CD, maybe you give away your top 5 songs, but sell an enhanced CD and download stick with more songs or more content? Look at your lyrics.  What is really impacting your audience? Can that message be put on t-shirts, bracelets, art on a wall, temporary tattoos, anything else that allows fans to both remember and evangelize that message?  Would they benefit from time spent with you through a VIP buy in of some kind?

Think outside the CD case and let me know what you come up with.

First we talked about mission. Now we’ve talked about Fan Development.  Next time we’ll talk about why you should seriously considering being a non-profit organization rather than a business.  Email me your comments or questions to Scott@CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com.


Scott has led classes for us at NAMM and the Christian Musician Summit. 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.CreatorWorship.com).