Getting Your Songs Heard
Posted on August 20, 2009 by Paul | 4 Comments | Jump to Comments Box Below
Getting Your Songs Heard
by Paul Baloche
I have said before that you don’t have to be a worship leader to write worship songs, just a worshiper. But being a worship leader does have its advantages. It gives you a laboratory to try out your new songs, and a platform to have your songs heard. So if you’re not a worship leader, you need to have at least some sort of connection with a church music department, or someone you can show your new songs to who might be able to get them used and heard.
Here is a key: Write for your local church instead of for imagined big projects. Serve your local congregation. You know them and they know you. If your songs work for them they may work at large. The Bible says “Put off selfish ambition and striving.” I can’t emphasize this enough. I’ve met so many aspiring writers who have had their joy stolen and who are constantly frustrated because they have put God in a box. Instead of faithfully serving their local body and letting God promote in His timing, they are anxiously trying to “make it happen.” This is not always a comfortable process but it is the process that I’ve witnessed in most of the worship songwriters that I know. Brenton Brown, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Glenn Packiam, Jared Anderson, Jon Egan, Tommy Walker, etc…I could go on and on listing the writers who have had the same experience as I had, which was; serving in a local body, writing lots of songs with the local church in mind and occasionally introducing the strongest ones to my church community. As you are faithful where you are at, God has a way of creating opportunities for your songs to spill over into other churches.
I asked my friend Craig Dunnagan, who is the Vice President of Music Publishing and Church Resources at Integrity Music and who essentially started worshiptogether.com over ten years ago, to list the best ways for our songs to be heard when starting out.
#1. Share your songs within your current sphere of influence.
Opportunities start with relationships. If you’re part of a denomination, share the songs that are really “working” in your congregation with your state music committee. If they love them, they’ll likely share them with others and the song will take on a life outside your home church. Create a fellowship of local worship leaders where you can share ideas and songs. Come with simple demos and chord charts or sheet music. If fellow worship leaders like your song, they’ll try it in their churches. If it works there, where there’s no personal incentive for the congregation to like it, then that song can work well in other churches.
#2. Record and distribute a recording of your original songs.
I tend to pay more attention to a well-packaged recording from a local church than from an individual’s demo. If the pastors and congregation believe in your ministry and songs enough to fund a recording, that speaks of endorsement from them and faithfulness from you. We’ve even asked for a letter of recommendation from the pastor or a staff minister. Once you have a respectable recording, send it to outlets such as Grassroots Music Distribution, WorshipMusic.com or Song Discovery. All of these gladly receive and review independent recordings and, in some cases, make the songs or products available to their constituents.
#3. Attend Worship Conferences and Music Conferences.
These are the best places to meet and develop relationships with nationally known worship leaders and songwriters. There may be song-sharing opportunities or contests where songs are submitted, judged and awarded
#4. Engage in limited itinerant ministry.
If God has given you excellent songs for the church, then share them in other congregations. This is assuming you have “presentational” skills that do the songs justice. When you’re ready to do this, don’t leave your home church. Stay anchored where your gifts were nurtured and encouraged in the first place. Stay near the well where your source of life and inspiration comes from. However, with the blessing of your leadership, pursue and accept invitations from other churches. This increases the opportunity for someone influential to hear about your songs and share your name or music with those who can give you a broader platform. There are multitudes of ways your songs can be heard and sung. However, the above four are by far the best first steps that, from my experience, lead to songs gaining a wider platform.
Craig also had a bit of advice regarding motivation and attitude. He says, ”Some sincere Christians worry about their motivation in writing songs. But don’t be afraid to exercise your gift for fear you’re doing it for the wrong reason, or you may become like the man Jesus told about who buried his talent and was punished for it. Our motives may vary from day to day— 80/20, 90/10, 50/50. That’s not all bad. Pray for purity and servant hood, and go ahead and write.”
Excellent insight from one of the first people I send my new songs to. His feedback and wise counsel have been a great help to my ministry for years. I pray that many of you will heed his advice and get to writing, writing, and writing more songs for the local church to sing.
Remember Philippians 2:13 “It is God who works in you, to will and to do what pleases Him.”
This is an excerpt from the book “God Songs” written by Paul Baloche and Jimmy and Carol Owens. Available at www.leadworship.com