Ok, so we are back to the second part of our conversation between that good-looking and talented new artist, Steve Ford, and a few friends – Jason Germain from Downhere, Jaime Jamgochian, Matt Papa and Jason Gray. He is looking for advice from these wise sages on what he needs to do to prepare for the journey ahead. Let’s listen in…
Steve – How do you balance life and being on the road?
Jason Germain – Life IS on the road. You either choose to thrive there or slowly wither. So don’t wait for ‘real’ life while you’re on the road. It’s a long wait.
Jaime Jam – I am very thankful that most of my travel is from FRI-MON so I have the rest of the week to stay plugged into church life, community, friendships, mentors, etc. I think with any vocation you should constantly be pouring into others. Whether that is through small groups you host, mentoring someone, being a great friend, but also allowing people who you look up to and want to be more like to have the place to pour into our own life. Someone who will speak into your life and challenge you. I think it can be easy for people who travel all the time to forget to stay plugged in when they are on the road. Isolation can set in and that usually sets one up for failure.
Matt Papa – It’s hard and complicated. Honestly, there isn’t much balance. It’s messy. For me, I try to be involved as much as possible in our local church. This brings me accountability and relationship. I also always practice Sabbath. The principle of Sabbath actually saved my ministry about 2 years ago. I was SO burnt-out that I was about to QUIT! But God restored me through giving me a day off! I also try to take my family on the road with us a lot. This keeps me sane in a van full of smelly guys.
Jason Gray – Still working on that. A lot of it has to do with learning when to say no, which is unpopular. Some people say no too much; I mean if you’re going to be in this business, you should expect to work long and hard with little promise of reward – at least instant reward – so you have to know what you’re getting yourself into and be willing to make a lot of sacrifices, but you also have to know your limits. I’m not always good at this and it does damage to me, my relationships and my ministry. Seek the Lord, rely on him to help you know what you should and shouldn’t do.
Steve – How do I know when I should be on a label?
Jason Germain – Seek wisdom from artists and mentors, pastors that you trust. Labels bring wider exposure to what your already doing.
Jaime Jam – Not sure what to say here….I know 5 years ago the industry looked so much different. Labels were signing artists they believed in “talent,” even if they did not have a big “following”/fan base or touring 150 plus dates a year. These day’s what I hear is most labels want to know that what you are doing is working in your community, and that there is a reason for them to come along side to partner with you. At the end of the day the label wants to not only be able to help grow your music ministry but also make a profit off of it. That is something to wrestle with before you sign. Although this is ministry it is very much a business as well. There are still labels offering great record deals but I think we also have to look at the fact that this is a great time to be an independent artist as well. Make sure that what they are offering is not something you could do on your own independently.
Matt Papa – When you have your own thing going strong. Don’t seek out labels. The best label opportunities will seek you out.
Jason Gray – By the time you’re doing well enough on your own, where you may not feel like you need a label… that’s about the time that they’ll be interested in you. They want to help people who are already helping themselves, someone who’s already got the ball rolling. That means you’ve at least done some recording and you’re out on the road doing concerts and building a following. Being on a label is not the magic bullet for success, it’s a partnership that will help you get to where you’re already going.
Steve – What does the future hold for me?
Jason Germain – The future holds nothing for you. There is no pie in the sky. But the poetry and hope of the gospel is worth singing about, in whatever sphere of influence we have.
Jaime Jam – Someone once told me that no one is going to believe in your music ministry as much as you are. I would say work hard at what God has called you to do. Stay focused on the things that matter in life…which all comes back to relationship. I sense that everyone is trying to “figure” out what is going to happen next in the music industry. How to make things “work”. It is a scary time for a lot of people right now.
I think with anything in life the future is in Gods hands…ask Him what your part in it all is and stay true to that calling.
Matt Papa – I have no idea.
Jason Gray – Who can say? Gambling has never had an appeal to me because in essence my whole vocation feels like a gamble. And yet “never have I seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25)
I still struggle financially, I still play to a lot of small audiences, but I have lived a charmed life. The relationships I’ve made because of what I do have given my life a colorful cast of characters that has enriched me. I have great stories. I’ve seen much of the world. I’m tired and sometimes burned out, but when I think back on all I’ve experienced, the only words that come to mind are “thank you” – so if that’s any indication, that may be your future, too.
Steve – Anything else I should know?
Jason Germain – from Mr. Warren Buffet… Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.
Jaime Jam – Love God, Love people and at the end of the day be the best YOU that He has created you to be.
Matt Papa – I love Steve Ford.
Jason Gray – Nope