Industry Insider Tips and Advice
DG.com: Any advice to new artists?
(Carl B): As you travel across the country how do you feel
other cities compare to what goes on in DC?
With close to 25 years of experience to share, Dave Thomas had the following advice for artists just starting out:
Dave Thomas: “Do what you enjoy. Try to stay true to who you are. Be original; don’t try to be like anyone else. Stay true to what God is trying to speak through you.”
In October of 2005, the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy hosted "A Look Inside The Detroit Gospel Music Business" at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Panelist, Pastor Marvin Winans, had the following advice:
Pastor Winans: Go to church! That's how you hone your craft.
In October of 2005, the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy hosted "A Look Inside The Detroit Gospel Music Business" at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Panelist and program director for Mix 92.3, Jamillah Muhammed, had the following advice for aspiring artists looking to get radio air play:
Jamillah Muhammed: Radio is crowded. Try to create your story outside of radio. Make radio pay attention to you!
In October of 2005, the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy hosted "A Look Inside The Detroit Gospel Music Business" at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Panelist and Stellar Award winning radio host of FM98's "Strong Inspirations," Dr. Deborah Smith-Pollard, had the following advice for aspiring artists looking to get radio air play:
Dr. Deborah Smith-Pollard: If your record is good, you don't have to pay me, and if it's not any good, you don't have enough money to pay me!
In other words, "payola" is not the way to make it in this industry.
During a 2004 interview with The Whitfield Music Group, Larry Whitfield had the following advice for aspiring gospel artists:
Larry Whitfield: We’re living in the last days. We took this saying for granted as children, but we can see the signs are so prevalent now. There is an urgency to share Christ with the lost so anyone who is a believer and has a music or preaching ministry should be getting the word out.
Larry went on to encourage up-and-coming artists to seek God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness. He truly believes that if gospel artists use their gifts and talents for God’s pleasure, all desires will be added.
During a 2005 interview with Vickie Winans, when asked about how competitive and hard it is to break into gospel music, Vickie had the following advice for aspiring gospel artists:
Vickie Winans: It’s hard, but let me tell you something, if you get the door open up to you, have the ability to keep the door open. First of all, be skillful, learn your craft do a good job. You've got to be anointed, you've got to be committed, and then when it’s all said and done, you have to keep great relationships. Don't develop no ego, mistreat people. Like you can go up, you can come down. That's what has kept me out there these 20 years. This is my 20th Anniversary. Keeping a positive attitude, developing friendships, loving the Lord, making sure that you're classy at all times, doing the right things, keeping relationships open, you'll always be on top.
During a 2004 interview with Martha Munizzi, while in town for Perfecting Church's Holy Convocation, Martha had the following advice for aspiring gospel artists:
Martha Munizzi: My advice is the scripture sticking on my heart, “be anxious for nothing” also “in all thy ways acknowledge God and he shall direct your path.”
It is Martha’s belief that if you are striving for success in your ministry or record sales, don’t be anxious. Don’t doubt God because God will bring it to pass in His season. God’s plan is not to hurt His people and His will causes us to prosper. Martha adds that we should acknowledge God and know He’s always moving in our lives. God is always putting things together so no matter how bad it looks, “the best is yet to come.”
During a 2004 interview with former Detroiter, Byron Cage, Byron had the following advice for aspiring gospel artists:
Byron Cage: You really have to know the Lord.
...I've had many, many, many, many, doors closed in my face because people didn't believe in my gifts and talents. But, God's anointing will supercede anything. You just have to walk accordingly and be faithful to a ministry.
Byron went on to say that he has always remained committed to his pastor and loyal to his church in whatever city he has lived. He doesn't believe in being a "church-hopper."
During a 2005 interview with native Detroiter, Dorinda Clark Cole, Dorinda shared the following tips for career longevity:
Dorinda Clark Cole: Of course, first of all, ...quiet time with God. You have to do that everyday because you know the Bible says we must worship Him in spirit and in truth and to have a relationship with Him you must have it, in order to keep and stay where you are. God can give you life and longevity and that’s what He has given me.
After that, of course, I try to run a mile a day. “A mile a day keeps the doctor away,” and it really helps health wise and in singing, to keep my endurance, while I’m ministering the word of God. Not only that, but with singing it helps with breathing as well. I used to teach voice at my mom’s school. So that is one of the tips that I used to give out to my students, in addition to giving them breathing exercises. These exercises are some of the things that I do before I sing, I take really deep breaths to get the windpipes going. Those are the kinds of things that keep Dorinda going. And of course Ryan Baker, I got to give it to him, my choreographer, he keeps me going and works me out and kind of gets me going.
...and then I take vitamins too. That’s one of the things that I talk about to those trying to get started in the music ministry and industry. Vitamins will keep you from catching a lot of colds and they keep your resistance up. I used to catch a lot of colds and I didn’t realize that it was because I was not taking vitamins. So that was one of the things that really kind of keeps me up and I take my little vitality packs. I take them wherever I go and I take my vitamins every day. It’s so important!
During a 2005 stop in Detroit, native Detroiter CeCe Winans had the following advice for aspiring artists who may be ministering in the church now, but feel called to be professional artists:
CeCe Winans : That’s kind of a hard question, because it happens differently for everybody, for the most part. My first word of advice would be to seek the Lord. You know, people get tired of my answers, because my answers always say the same thing, but it’s the truth. You seek the Lord. Just because you might want to do it, but it may be that God has not called you to do it. So it may be a lot of times you may say, ‘I won’t do that.’ If it’s not the center of God’s plan for your life, then it’s not going to be good for you. And once you do that, and say, ‘yes, … I know God has called me beyond a shadow of a doubt to sing music-- to be an artist,’ when you know, that you know, that you know. And even when you know, you have to still fight doubt at times, because you’re going to have a hard time sometimes. God allows us to go through that so we can learn through it how to trust Him more. When you know you’ve been called, you have to know that God is going to open up every door that needs to be opened. And for me, I’ve learned to thank God for all the doors that have been opened and for all the doors that closed.
[Also] you know you can put your songs on a tape and send them out to different record labels. They’re always looking for new talent.
[Finally,] worship where you are. If it’s in your church choir, be faithful over that. You know the bible tells us, ‘if you’re faithful over a few things, then I’ll make you ruler over many.’ And, so a lot times we just—we want to do it in our own time, but you have to wait on God and do it in His time. If He’s called you to do it, rest in that. Know that it is going to come to pass.
In a 2004 interview with Bishop Andrew Merritt of Straight Gate Church in Detroit, Michigan, Bishop Merritt had the following advice for a new artist trying to make it in the gospel music business:
Bishop Andrew Merritt : Number one, in anything that you attempt to do you need to have a passion for it. If you don’t have a passion then you’re not going to do the things that are necessary to be successful. Your passion is what drives you. Your passion will drive you for excellence. Your passion will drive you to learn your craft, how to present your craft, and how to package it and all of that. Your passion will drive you.
In particular, when we start talking about gospel music and success in gospel music it’s whether or not you will be a middle of the road artist or a compromised artist who is trying to reach the other side. Number one, are you dedicated to God? Is this project dedicated to God? Are you willing to accept less than name recognition to do it for God? Are you marketing yourself? Are you in it for financial gain?
There is gain, but should you profit – yes you should, but is that your sole motive? Because if we don’t make money we can’t stay in business, if General Motors doesn’t make money they will go out of business. That can’t be your motivation. Your motivation is that if you are going to be in music ministry you have to make a decision “am I going to be a worldly person or be a Christian?” Am I going to sing Christian music or sing the world’s music? There are so many people inside of the church who have a worldly concept where I say you’d do better by going out and trying your hand in the world because the church is never going to accept it. That’s never going to work in the church.
In a 2004 interview with 2006 Stellar Award winners RiZen, of Saginaw, Michigan, the talented young ladies had the following advice for up-and-coming gospel artists:
RiZen's Aundrea Lewis: "Go and do what God has called you to do and have peace about it. Storms come and go, but God will ride you through every one. Never give up and stay grounded in your local church."
RiZen's Ashley Jones: "Follow your dreams as you follow God and God will lead you in the right direction. Be patient. Things will only happen in God's time. Keep God first and your vision will come to pass."
RiZen's Adriann Lewis: "It is important to be patient and have a strong relationship with your church and pastor. Our relationship to our church is what has helped RiZen become successful.">>Click Here to read full interview with RiZen
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