Give Them More Than a Song
If you have ever recorded a worship song, it is an exhilarating experience, but also a lot of work. First there is the writing, wrestling with the words to make them work with the music and rhyme, and say what God has put on your heart to say. There is capturing the right melodies, and putting them together. If you are making a studio recording, there is the process of lining up a producer, players or your band, and the preparation of the tracks if used. Then there is the recording, sometimes over multiple sessions. You and the producer sifting through the mixes, finding the right ones. Adding the effects, mixing, mastering. Then there is the distribution. Preparing the masters. Uploading them for the CD or digital distribution process. Tagging the MP3.s, Creating cover art. Social media, etc, etc. For a quality recording, it can be months of effort.
Then, you release. If you are doing well you will get a few weeks worth of notice. Then, if you are like many artists or churches, your song may not get many opportunities to be used outside of your own ministry or church, and maybe a few close to it. A worship leader friend told me once that, there are probably 12-15 opportunities for new songs to be introduced in his church in a year, max. Out of those, 8-10 will go to a known 'big' artist. Leaving you, at most, 2 or 3 opportunities to get a song used in an average church. Most artists do the following two things - they release a CD, maybe a lyric video, and they post chord charts on their web site. Then they wait for their songs to be found, and maybe do some social media marketing for a little while.
If this sounds challenging, it is. There is an industry out there, and it depends on getting churches to sing it's songs. But this should not dissuade you from singing a new song, and giving your songs their best possible voice. A good song is like gold, with lasting value and great beauty. The resources you create will certainly bless your church. But,if you want to share them more widely, there are a few things you, as an artist, can do to help. Most of them are easy, yet few artists do them to any great extent. If you really want all those months of effort to benefit other churches, and to give your songs a chance to be used more widely, There is more you can do.
Do what the Industry Does
On the day a new 'big worship' release, here is what industry does:
- Their chord charts, and sometimes orchestrations are released on platforms like PraiseCharts and CCLI SongSelect
- Their multitrack stems are released on Multitracks.com and LoopCommunity.com
- They have a giveaway of a song plus a chord chart available
- The have interviews, reviews, and write-ups all ready to roll
- They submit resources to song curators like Worship Leader Magazine SongDiscovery
Some of this is marketing, and just helps to get your music out there. To distribute your music more widely, you can do giveaways on platforms like Noisetrade or Worshipsong. Some sites like PraiseCharts will give away your music to help. You can find sites that will do independent worship music reviews. If your music is strong,they will do some reviews for you.
Many of these steps are also intended to help churches make use of the new songs immediately. A large number of churches use CCLI SongSelect or PraiseCharts almost exclusively to get their resources. The chord charts on these platforms work in common software apps like Onsong, ProPresenter, Planning Center Online, etc. It goes without saying that, for the big artists, the chord charts and correct and consistent (or should be).
Having multitracks available for sites like Loop Community, Multitracks, Worshipsong Band, or Ableton means churches that use these technologies can use the songs immediately. Many churches will use these resources to be able to quickly incorporate a new song, because they usually allow elements of the recording to be incorporated, while the most common instrumentation and live vocals can be provided by the worship team. These platforms can also be great for rehearsal and training. Be aware, however, that there are no opportunities to give away resources on the major track app platforms. Churches will be forced to pay upwards of $30 for your multitracks on these sites. If you want to be able to give away these resources to get your tracks out there, do not sign up for exclusive terms that will prevent you from doing so.
Whether for chord charts, orchestration, or multitracks, most of these platforms are accessible, even to independent artists and church recording ministries. It takes some extra effort to create chord charts in the right format, to create Ableton projects, to create click tracks, identify section markers, and to prepare and/or upload your resources. For the songs you think other churches are most likely to adopt, the effort may well be worthwhile.
Take the Long View
Worship music can definitely take time to make its way to where it can be best used. In order for your music to continuing to spread and make impact beyond the couple of months after it is released, you need to take the long view. Keep socializing your music, looking for ways to point people who are interested to the resources you have made available. Sometimes a song giveaway opportunity may arise a year or two after you release. Submit your song anyway. If there are artists who might use your songs, enable them to do so. Give them a break on royalties or help them get resources in their hands, like CDs they can sell. Use your recording investment creatively. Ensure you register your music with CCLI and, if you expect radio airplay, BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc. Just having your music in these platforms will help it to appear serious, and therefore be taken seriously.
Ways We Can Help
Here at Worshipsong, one of our missions is to help connect users of worship songs with creators of worship songs. To that end, we offer a few specific ways we can help you with the above, and make the process much easier in many cases.
- Our song database gives you a way to upload or link all of the resources for your music in one place. You can give access to all your resources using a single link. As an example, here is Kristen Gilles, an artist who has shared her catalog on our site. From this link, you can hear all her music, get her chord charts, and find her available multitracks. Its not difficult at all(and it's free) for you to do the same on our site.
- We can act as the administrator for your music, ensuring it is registered with CCLI, etc. Contact us.
- Our free multitrack platform, Worshipsong Band, offers a great way to distribute a single resource including everything a church needs to employ your song, including chord charts, multitracks, and section markers. The many benefits of using this resource are discussed in this article. An added benefit is that our platform has many users that are looking for high quality alternative and indie worship resources just like yours. And its completely open and free to use. Worshipsong is the only platform where you can give away multitrack resources.
In order to help your music be usable by churches and have staying power, give out more than a song and a chord chart. Make your resources accessible on the most commonly used platforms. Make them easy to use. Then, when people are interested in your music, point them to all your resources, wherever they are. Keep doing so. Just because your song was written a year or two ago does not make it any less relevant today.