By David A. Vaughn
How Can You Promote A Christian Artist
To some outside the Christian music industry, the word "Promotion" is a four-letter word. To those inside, promotion is a means by which ministries can shout God's message from the housetops.
Many times I have been asked the question; "How can you promote a Christian artist? Is it not the Lord the one who promotes?" To truthfully answer the first part of the question, I would have to respond?"I don?t know?" so I have to rely on the second part of the question to fulfill the first. That being, "The Lord does it."
As a person who happens to be one of many the Lord is deciding to use in the promotion field, I find myself being cautious in the way I promote ministries. I believe, by using Aaron's failures in the wilderness we can learn a valuable lesson. I would quickly say, if promotion is used improperly, out pops a gold idol, and everyone involved is in serious trouble. I must make sure that what I do with an artist is in the molding of God and not Baal. Note: that Aaron was not in trouble for using gold, he was in trouble for what he made with it.
Music, in itself, no matter what the form is not sinful, but some have used it as an idol or to worship idols. Because of the way Aaron used the gold, the Lord wanted to destroy everyone who was involved in idol making and start all over with Moses. However, Moses interceded and changed the mind of the Lord (Ex. 32:11-14). Perhaps the reason why the Lord does not destroy the Christian Music Industry today is because someone like Moses must be hard at work interceding.
According to 1 Chron. 25:3, today is the time of "Prophesying with harps." Satan's children have used the airwaves to beam false prophecies long enough. It is time for God 's children to prophesy of a better life, a better master, and a better day.
For a while, Christian Music was a game, a new toy for the industry to play with. It was a chance to play with sound systems, lights, tour buses, trade papers and other fun performance toys. God has always had a bigger vision for His tools. Christian Music has the potential of being a powerful weapon that can go into the enemy's camp where many traditional ministries have never been able to go. Music can open many closed doors. We can inflict drastic blows and regain ground the enemy has stolen with the weapon of music.
I for one am going to utilize this weapon as the Lord direct and make the airwaves safe for human consumption. If it takes promoting a Christian Artist on top forty stations, so be it. If the world wants a "Prince" I will give them the Prince of Peace. If they want a new dance, then that can be arranged also.
The time has come to go into the entire world (not just the church) and proclaim the gospel. This is exactly what the Lord intends to do. Perhaps you and I will be on the scene when He does it.
Jesus Was Promoted
Jesus has what I consider the best promotional package that was ever offered.
As He went about healing all that were sick and oppressed of the devil, He would instruct them not to tell anyone. However, not one of them who were healed was obedient to His command. His fame soon went before Him and after only three years of touring the local churches, He became the number one attraction.
His great public appearance was an outdoor performance. The stage was cut out of rough timber and two other acts went before Him. But, as He began to address the crowd dark clouds engulfed the sky. Was it going to be a rain out? Nope, Berry was there praying just like he did at Woodstock. The day went on and as night approached, a closing word that demanded action was spoken. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
The encore came, blood and water flowed. The marketing representatives were ready too. They were busy selling chances on His robe and passed out various souvenirs to remember this great gathering of believers.
Why have I pictured this Holy event the way I have? So we can see the importance of misdirected promotion/marketing and not take it lightly.
Actually, promotion for Jesus started when Moses wrote his first press release of God creating the heavens and earth. What a great job he did, but of course, he had a little help from the top.
If you have ever looked in the want ads of a newspaper for a promotion person, you had to look under the heading entitled, "Public Relations." I like that because it defines what a real promotion person is all about. As an ambassador of Christ, a promotion person's job is to represent Jesus to the world in an intelligent and diplomatic way. You could also say that promotion is relating to the public what you know to be, will be or has already taken place. For example; all that were healed by Jesus spoke of what had happened in their lives. For this reason, promotion became the most useful way of communicating what God is doing through your ministry. God wants a relationship between your ministry and the unaware public.
There are hundreds of radio stations and bookstores that need to know how God is working through your ministry. You may find that you can't inform them by yourself. Whoever God gives you to help in this endeavor, will be your public relation or promotion person.
As your ministry grows, the great commission will become a vision of reality. You will have to go beyond the USA and will begin to spy out other lands. You will soon learn that being number one in Billboard doesn't fulfill the calling. It doesn't even come close.
The USA is not the world, neither is the church. What about Australia, England, Germany, Russia, China, Africa, South and Central America?and the list go on.
Don't be content with being known in the Christian circles only. What are you trying to accomplish through your promotion anyway? Are you trying to become Christian's Television's favorite traditional singer? Are you hoping to finance your Children?s college fund? Or are you using promotion so that you can be effective and do the works of Jesus in every nation, tribe, tongue and dialect? A poet once said; "Let me be known and feared in the courts of hell, more than any church in America." Go reach the world and utilize promotion as it applies to the need in your ministry.
Prayer is promotion
One Sunday, my pastor was preaching out of I Cor. 12. As he concentrated on verse 5 the word "administrations" exploded off the page. I was reading an Open Bible edition. In clarifying the word administrations, it was translated "Promotions." This makes the passage read; "and there are differences of promotions but the same Lord." What a refreshment and confirmation it was to me to learn that promotion was not a dirty word but instead, a means by which the Lord administers the spiritual gifts. Therefore, promotion becomes extremely important to the Kingdom of God.
Promotion is not hype. There is no room for exaggeration, and to belittle or point the finger at another artist to get airplay is a road to sudden death.
The more I recognize the seriousness of promotion, the more I realize the need to spend more time talking to God than talking on the phone. If I don?t have a clear word from God, I don't have anything to say. The music directors and programmers I talk to are quick to recognize hype. They are looking for truthful information that will be helpful in programming their stations more efficiently.
I have also found that promotion when used in its proper form, will be a parallel to your prayer life. There are three types of prayer mentioned in scripture;
Petition, is when you first introduce a new record. It is your first proclamation that you have a word to be said. In the 60's a whole generation petitioned for peace. They did it by demonstrations and marches. Moses petitioned Pharaoh to let God's people go. Pharaoh was a little stubborn like some music directors, but he finally got the message.
If Christian music has a better message, a better spirit behind it, and is better for your mind, then it has a superior edge over secular music. So, a little petitioning is positively on my agenda.
After a record has been released for airplay. and the initial petition has been administered, next comes Supplication.
Supplication becomes a long drawn out process. What takes one month in the secular field now takes six months for the Christian market. This is due to fewer records released by Christian artists than others. Supplication is supplying a radio station and music stores with information about the artist's philosophy, vision, and goals. It also consists of supplying information on record tracking and concert agenda.
When supplicating, you are repeating the benefits of your music ministry with which God has blessed you. Airplay, sales and concert bookings are a few of the benefits. Supplication is also giving to radio stations the artists' talent in the form of jingles, interviews and endorsements. After all, we all have the same goals in mind and together, God can work unhindered. An artist, according to his or her ability is responsible to do that which they have set out to do. They must be willing to accept an equal amount of responsibility to the amount of authority God has given them.
Intercession comes last in promotion. Intercession is when you have done all you can do and the devil is still robbing the artist of their benefits
(airplay, sales, bookings). One must remember that the benefits are only by-products to carrying out the real heart of God. Person to person discipleship in an Isaiah 58 fast is still top priority. Therefore, when God's fast is being hindered for any reason, intercession or stepping in and being a spokesperson on behalf of an artist is justifiable and sound doctrine.
The parallel between promotion and prayer is one that cannot be separated. Every artist I represent has to spend time in prayer and fasting along with me to seek the will of the Father in the way I promote and represent them
As a person who believes in the blessing of Abraham, I must recognize that directly proportionate to the amount of stars Abraham counted was the possession of his enemy's gates. (Gen. 22:17)
I am looking forward to counting many stars in the horizon of Christian artists. Aren't You?
God?s New Thing
The writer of Ecclesiastics stated, "There is nothing new under the sun." It is apparent that he has been correct concerning the ways of man. Of course, there are new ways of doing old jobs. You can now fly from Rome to Jerusalem instead of hitching your horse to a chariot. But basically, every thing under the sun is still in the same stage of creativity as it was when God said, "Man is also flesh."
Evolutionists are also biting their tongues because they too cannot find anything that is advancing in an evolutionary process. Some day they will realize that man's fall was downward, not upward. So, what the world calls advancement are simply old ideas put into a different form.
Going to the moon is a great achievement but man could have done that 4,000 years ago in the land of Shi-Mar, by building a tower (Gen. 11:1-9). So, maybe there is nothing new under the sun but that's not what God has planned for the future.
The Lord has promised to do a "New Thing." The prophet Isaiah stated that this new thing should come in the form of showing forth praise. The prophet also stated that it is going to come by God's people only. The world will not have this new thing (Isa. 43:19-21).
Since the word "praise" was mentioned, I am led to believe that music will be involved. If you are in the music industry, and are one of God?s people, then you should be looking for this new thing in your ministry.
Because the world will not have the ability to do this new thing, God's musicians need to prepare themselves for its coming (as seen in Isaiah 43-45). If this new thing is to come in our generation, then possibly a new type of music will be in the making.
As I listen to contemporary Christian Music, I have noticed for the most part that it is taken from the world's Rock-N-Roll. You might say that Christian musicians are still using those bar/tavern tunes the way the former hymn writers did. That's not bad in itself but today's Christian musicians should not settle for a copy or imitation of the world's music. Satan is the only one that should be the imitator.
Christian musicians are the ones who should be setting the styles, introducing rhythms and topping the charts. They should be full of new ways to reach the world with sounds from their new songs. Worldly artists should be extremely jealous of Christian music.
So, why are Christian musicians copying the world? It is simple. They haven't matured in their belief that God wants to do a new thing. Perhaps, if we all work together and be of one mind, we could se clearly what Gods new thing is. God said of the tower builders that they could do anything they put their minds together to do (Gen. 11:6). Maybe, God is waiting on us!
There are other Christian musicians who are copying the world; and if you listen to their music they are at least ten years behind the times. I would say that God is definitely waiting on them.
After all, if you are one of Gods children you already have a new spirit, a new heart, and a new song, not counting the fact that you are a new creature and have a new life that is not bound by the limitations of this world.
With all this going in your favor, talent scouts should be begging for Christian artists. Christian concerts should be sold out and Christian Records should be out-setting secular records three to one.
I guess I still must be considered a young man because I definitely see a vision for a new thing in Christian music. How about you?
Promotion of Mordecai
In my study of Old Testament history, I have found that for centuries theologians have attacked the book of Esther and have wanted it removed from the Bible. It is true that Esther never mentions the name of God and makes no reference to prayer or worship. It also glories in the execution of its enemies but to strike it from the Bible?
If you have ever read the book of Esther, you will find an incredible story of the "American Dream." I am surprised that Hollywood hasn't made a movie from its content. Esteher was an orphan who became queen. Her testimony was one of rags to riches, an unknown who became a star. As the story of Esther was told in ten small chapters, Esther was raised by her Jewish uncle Mordecai. She also had a natural beauty that gave her favor in the sight of all that looked upon her. Thus Esther, after twelve months of being anointed and purified was promoted to the position of Queen over the entire province from India to Ethiopia.
One day Mordecai over herd two men plotting to destroy the King. He told what he heard to Ester and she relayed his message to the King. Mordecai's name was written the book of the chronicles for saving the King's life but he was not honored for his patriotism.
There is another character in the book of Esther named Haman. Haman was promoted also by the King to be ruler over all the princes and officers at the gates of the city. Now, Mordecai was one of those officers but he would not recognize Haman nor would he bow down and worship him as the other officers did. This enraged Haman, and he took revenge. He was so obsessed with his hatred toward Mordecai that he planned to destroy all the Jews.
When Mordecai was informed about Haman's plans, he requested Esther to go to the King and make supplication on behalf of the Jewish nation. Esther accepted Mordecai's request and called a fast for all Jews not to eat food for three days. She did likewise along with all her servants.
After the three days fast had ended, Esther dressed herself in her royal apparel and went before the King. He asked "what is thy petition and it shall be granted thee?even half the kingdom." Esther only asked for another chance to have the King's attention. Now Haman was also invited to this banquet and assumed he was going to be honored.
The night before the banquet, the King could not sleep and so instead he read. The book of the Chronicles was brought to him. The King began to read of how Mordecai saved his life. He summoned Haman and asked what he would do if he wanted to honor a special man.
Haman, thinking the King was talking about him, began to tell the King how he would want to be honored. After Haman had finished a long list, the King ordered him to do all these thing to Mordecai.
When the banquet began, Esther told the King of Haman's plans to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews, which would include herself. The King became furious and left the room. Haman began to plead with Esther for his life. When the King returned he thought Haman was making advances towards Esther, and had him hung on the very gallows Haman had made for Mordecai. Mordecai was promoted to next in charge to the King.
So, what does the story of Esther have to do with promotion? A lot of music that is written today for evangelism does not mention the name of Jesus openly. Nor do they sound like worship songs and some even glory in victory over the enemy. Somehow, the same test used by theologians trying to get Esther stricken from the Bible, has filtered into the minds of music directors to get certain music banned from their Christian stations. If you have ever promoted a Christian song, you would find several Hamans who would try to destroy all Christian music that does not conform to traditional gospel music.
If you are a musician you will like Esther, go though a period of time to be anointed and purified. Without this, you will be just another perty face and will not accomplish the divine deliverance God wants to do though you. You also, will have times of fasting along with our staff. You will have to go to your stage wardrobe and put on you royal apparels and present yourself before the King.
Make known your petition. Supply the King with the facts and intercede for the Mordecais of today. Their time for honor is at hand. Think about it!
The law of reaping and sowing not only applies to your finances, but to every thing you have. If you need money, sow money. If you need clothing, then sow clothes. If you need health, then pray for those who are sick. You may also add, if you need promotion, then promote others.
Paul spoke of esteeming others above yourself (Phil.2:3,4). This is sometimes difficult if you happen to be an artist. None the less, it is a Biblical principle that must be followed if you want to be promoted by God.
Carla Riehl once told me she was sitting next to Sandi Patti at a music seminar in Colorado. Carla was about to minister in song when Sandi turned towards her and spoke a timely word of encouragement. What a virtuous woman Sandi was to Carla that day! It made a lasting impression to all on Carlas team that God was first in Sandi's life. This good report gave me great respect for Sandi as a person because she esteemed Carla higher then herself.
This could be one of Sandi's keys to receiving such high recognition and promotion to the top. She is putting into practice this great truth.
In the early seventies, I was doing promotion for MCA Records. One of our top artists, who was riding high on the Billboard charts was conversing with me about his latest hit. After praising me for my help in his success, he dangerously blurted out that he had no need of my services. He stated that he was so well known that he needed nobody.
Shortly after that brief but hostile conversation, his popularity began to go down. He has yet to regain his stature.
What a difference in the two stories. The law of reciprocity applies. Sandi sowed esteem and reaped respect. The other sowed pride and reaped destruction.
A real lesson can be learned by these two examples. I have seen many artists fall by the wayside because of sowing haughty seeds (Prov. 16:8) but God will raise you up if you continue to sow good to others.
If you are experiencing popularity in your ministry, sow esteem to those who are not as popular. If you need more popularity, sow good reports about those whom you respect.
Although I was not a Christian when I worked in secular music, I used a similar proverb: "Be kind to everyone as you climb the ladder of success because when it's your turn to come down, you will have no enemies to trip you."
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in humbleness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."(Phil.2:3-5).
I guess these words say it all!
Promotion of David
Samuel said of David that he was a man after God's own heart. What do you suppose made David comparable to God's heart?
One of the reasons was that David had a restful trust in God to promote him to the position of King. He allowed God to promote him to his high place of authority without ever lifting a finger to proclaim his own name. You might say David used a New Testament principle of seating himself in last place. David could have "helped" God out many times and had various opportunities to destroy Saul, but he knew the importance of a restful trust in his God.
David was also diligent in prayer and served no matter how long God saw fit for him to tend sheep. If you are and artist, have a restful trust in God. If you are not in the top 10 within six months or six years, continue to recline where God has you.
I have learned through my life as a Christian that God will not advance you to a higher position until He sees you having a restful trust. You will know when you have it because your attitude will be willing to watch God do more with you behind the scenes then what most people can do in the public eye. You will also have a full trust that God is in control and you are in His perfect will. You will have a full understanding that God alone has given you your talent to be used by Him to promote you from the last seat to the front row.
Remember David with Goliath? God needed David's talent that day. Not bad for an unknown musician who only came for a "look-see."
Another thing I have noticed is, that you like David, need a history of all the times God has come to your defense. When you can testify in everyday situations how God has supplied His goodness you will be able to stand when the real crises comes. Believe me, a real crises goes beyond losing a car, house, or job. A real crisis comes when you enter the lime light of front row seating. If you are put on the front row before you have this restful trust, you will be swallowed up in disappointment and disillusion in you ministry. When all that God has promised you and all the vision you have for your ministry does not come to pass when you think it should, you will be tested and refined as gold.
Anyone who is on the front row will testify that they were never more criticized until they came into a place of public attention. If your heart is not like God's you will bend, compromise, and eventually break under the pressure.
If you work for God, do not pressure Him to work for you. If He works for you then you are the boss. God is not lazy but if you push Him, good luck because luck is all you will have. Real promotion will not be available.
For twelve years, I sat on the back row. At first I had no understanding why God would not release me to use my talent. After a while I began to see a history of the working of God in my life. His handiwork became present everyday. He caused me to have nothing but Him to boast of. When the time arrived for me to be somewhat released ( to function in my calling); the gates of hell started moving in my direction. Areas of my life that I considered "safety zones" became Fort Apaches. Testing of fatherhood and husbandry hit my life as never before. I was left with a severe case of rejection, a broken heart, and a wounded spirit. I thought to myself "could anything give me strength?" Yes! God, and God alone.
Everything could have been destroyed. All those years of preparation and growing could have been for naught. But, because I had a restful trust in God, it was spared. His mercy, when I fell short, His grace, when I sinned, His faithfulness to handle my state of desperation was all I had left. All I could do was learn the lesson of promotion. I rested and watched God work.
I have a strong feeling you can relate to what I have just said because I believe you have a heart like David.
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A great article! God has called us all to so many ministries. I'm glad you explained your ministry to me. As a Christian, it's good to esteem another's calling. And as a writer, it showed me a lot about promotion. -C.