The CBI Group

Where to start

How do I record a demo? How do I get distribution? How do I get paid? How do I pay my artist? How do I write a marketing plan? What is soundscan? Questions, questions and more questions is what you all have about the music business everyday. When you park your eyeballs on this monthly article we will attempt to explain in detail as it relates to the different functions of the music industry. Feel free to email your questions here and we will answer them for you. O.K. lets start with the first question…

Where do I start to break my Gospel Record?

First you want to get your prayer on because this is going to be a hard, sleepless night, devil on my trail but God by my side, journey. You want to start off by identifying yourself as an artist.

Are you traditional Gospel (Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples, Dorothy Norwood), or Quartet (Williams Brothers, Canton Spirituals, and Keith Wonderboy Johnson)? Are you Contemporary Gospel (Kurt Karr, Fred Hammond, and Donald Lawrence) or Urban Contemporary (Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, and Michelle Williams)? Once you have identified yourself, then stick with this sound and work on it. Don't change!! You hear so many Gospel artist try to put every sound in Gospel music on their record, and it confuses the consumer. You can't create a loyal fan base this way.

 You should also go and buy the gospel round-up magazine. This has a listing of every contact in the Gospel industry.

Song Writing

Second, if you have never written a song before, you need to get with a producer that can help you put your song in proper form or forms. Make sure you work with a producer who knows Gospel music as it relates to the different forms songs can be written in. For example, you may have been given the gift of song and you work with an R&B or Hip-Hop producer who "SAYS" they know how to produce Gospel. Well if he or she takes your song and you are singing the idea to them and they try to put it in the R&B or Hip Hop form it could be all wrong. The song you have may be a Praise & Worship song and it needs to be written and produced in this form. I have two producers plus myself who still work with Independent labels writing and producing records within your budget.

After Production

After you have finished producing your record, have the completed artwork, and you have ordered your first 500 units, don't go straight to your radio station to get them to play it and don't go to retail to have them to put it in the stores. Build your story in your community and outside of your community, and then take over to the city.

Gospel music is the only art form that has a built-in audience. Start with your church. Go to the minister of music or directly to the pastor and ask if can you perform during Sunday services. After you perform, let the congregation know that your CD is for sale. Make an offer to the pastor. If  the pastor travels to preach, ask him if you or your group can be his musical guest and ask if he could announce that you have a CD available

Go to every church in your community and within your city and ask if you can perform at their church. Sell your CDs after the performances. After a few performances in your community, create a bio and a list of churches and activities you have performed for. Then take your music to gospel radio and give them this information along with you CD. Make sure you give gospel radio the single that received the best response during your performance. Take this same information to your local retail store plus let them know how many records you have sold. Continue this process until you are a household name in and around your city. Look and see what is the next market close to you that has a strong gospel radio station and repeat this same system set-up in your hometown.