Your Thoughts On Using Undiscovered Music In Your Services
Featuring PraiseCharts Posted on December 10, 2008
Question: What is the benefit from using undiscovered and independent songwriter material in the Church? Recently, we received this question from an unknown artist. They write:
Here is a question for you: What makes someone use a new, undiscovered song? I have more and more admiration for the worship leaders who have taken a chance on using my music. I know of so many who use the same old songs over and over again and will not use a new song until it has gotten radio exposure. Why are people so hesitant to use new music?
It seems evident that we are moving into a new era of music with the dawn of the internet. It is about so much more than just music – it involves all kinds of “intellectual property.” People don’t just read books by popular authors now – they subscribe to blogs written by unknown amateurs – and they genuinely find value there. I am rather amused by comments from the “professional authors and musicians” who scoff at the amateur status of content found on the internet.
However, what was initially a balance to the “professional-only” era (pre-internet), and became a deluge of truly amateur content from people looking for their 15 minutes of fame – I think that now we are coming into a more credible middle ground, where high quality “non-professional” content is readily available to everyone and anyone. The radio is not the fortress of new music any longer. Quite frankly, my wife and I are bored of our local Christian radio station because they play the same 30 songs over and over.
Furthermore, less and less artists are going to make millions from their music in the future. On the flip side, more and more artists are going to have their music heard by niche audiences, and they are going to write music out of the pure joy and love of doing what they are called and gifted to do.
If you are going to set out to become the next Chris Tomlin, I think you are shooting for the stars. If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, you might be disappointed when you arrive. What’s wrong with the moon anyways? Ten years ago, no one could leap higher than a tall building.
Ministry: www.sovgracemin.org Church: www.covlife.org Blog: www.worshipmatters.com
A number of questions are being asked here. I’m going to limit myself to answering two. What makes someone use a new, undiscovered song?
While it can encourage unknown songwriters to have churches singing their songs, there’s no reason to use a song simply because no one else has heard it. The church doesn’t have any inherent responsibility to support struggling songwriters. The fact is, a lot of songs are unknown because they just aren’t that good.
The way for an unknown songwriter to get others to sing their songs is to write increasingly better songs. Songs that really serve the church. Songs that are easy to sing and remember. Songs that are filled with life changing biblical truth.
When we as worship leaders choose songs based on whether or not they’re well known, we’re allowing an unknown majority to determine what we sing, rather than prayerfully considering what will best serve our congregation.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a song to teach my church. They include biblical faithfulness, lyrical and musical freshness, the history and experiences of my congregation, and musical accessibility. But as far as I know, “hit status” isn’t a requirement. There are songs that are widely sung that, for different reasons, I wouldn’t use on a Sunday morning.
On the other hand, I may choose to use a song that’s not the “best” song because someone on the team or in the church wrote it, and it really serves the particular season we’re in. We’ve found that people are often more receptive to a song when they know the person who wrote it.
But everyone will be served that Jesus will be glorified if unknown songwriters continue to improve the quality of their songs, and worship leaders increasingly choose songs for the right reasons.
Worship Team Training
In this day and age, the Church is exploding with undiscovered and untapped talent. Like never before, new musicians, singers and songwriters are on the rise. Technology and the Internet are at an all-time high. There are countless new music artists with the ability to record and produce from home or from remote locations. We are utterly inundated with new music and uploaded song material. But how do the good songs, singers and musicians receive attention? What makes you want to use a song in your church, from an undiscovered artist that you’ve never heard before?
In the same vein of countless book authors, bloggers and film makers, more and more people are listening to undiscovered or independent artists. It is interesting to find that the talent is comparable to mainstream. In fact, a curious observation made is how others find more validity in new artists. I believe this has to do with relativity and tangibility. Undiscovered singer/songwriters are finding a credible advantage with listeners. Music is readily available, songwriting is fresh and the lyrics live in the here and now. Additionally, people enjoy and support artists who love what they do for the love of art and not for chasing the dollar. More importantly, people follow artists who offer more than just their music. Relationships, community and a trustworthy message (or supporting cause) is what people find most tangible in an artist. It's all about connectivity.
My wife and I enjoy listening to the radio. There is nothing like hearing a brand new or familiar tune over the airwaves. However, we find ourselves listening more to our MP3 players and internet radio. In fact, we engage more often with our playlists than FM stations in the car. What is the upside? We can listen to our favorites, when, where and how we want. We do not have to wait through commercials. We do not have to hear the same song countless of times. Besides, there is not just one song that is king of the airwaves. Just as God is the Ultimate Artist of Creation, He breathes his creativity and originality into people. As we experience the art from these individuals, we can’t help but to see God’s beauty and ministry through their songs. Like staring at a pastoral landscape, we join the artist in their craft in order to connect, relate and give God praise.
"Why are people so hesitant to use new music?"
What is your response?
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