Monday, March 12, 2018

Free Revisited

Some time ago I wrote a blog post specifically to people involved in music called “What If We Gave It Away?” It was met with one part celebration, one part scorn and ridicule, and one part...huh?

Recently I have started giving away some of my excess CD products at a local thrift store. Not giving it to them to sell, but offering it in the front of the store, completely free. Besides freeing up some space in my garage, and a write off if I really want to since it is a charity thrift store, it just feels good that the music is getting to people’s hands...and hopefully ears.

What if there was a way to disseminate our art to thousands or hundreds of thousands. For free. What if we just gave away physical product to those who value a CD, or a small MP3 player with headphones, or a book we wrote or containing our art. Or T-Shirts? Or DVDs with our videos or short films?

Not Online, But in Person

In the previous post I suggested we give it away online. But perhaps I had it backwards. We keep all our art for sale online. We still sell CDs and merch at shows. Let people still support us there as they do now and buy it at whatever price we think is fair. 

But if they discover us by other means (a thrift store, a gift at a hospital, or in a retirement community, or at a table at a fair, college or trade show) it could lead to more of the long tail of sales and discovery we need as marketing.

What if we found a way to distribute thousands or tens of thousands, or even more to people for free and let them just absorb it. Fall in love with something they took because it was free. What does it hurt if someone across the country (or down the street) that doesn’t know you takes a free CD, or book home from someplace and discovers your art?

Last year we started a non-profit side called Creative Heart with A.C.T. International. We have offered it to artists to use to raise money, but that hasn’t seemed very popular so far. Maybe putting it on artists to raise money for their efforts is not the right model.

But what if we found people that would give monthly to see art distributed around the country and the world? Perhaps at some point we could even find the donations to make the art as well as distribute it. Creators could still be free to sell their art if they wanted to, online and in person. But the real goal of Creative Heart would be making our art available for free out in the real world where people live. 

The Future of a Radical Price

In his book “Free” which I am re-reading right now, author Chris Anderson talks about how brands as well known and venerable as Jell-O and Gillette got their start by actually giving away things for free to get national recognition. Jell-O came up with a free cookbook that salesman gave away to show what you could do with Jell-O. Gillette gave away disposable razors by the millions to encourage sales of disposable razor blades, it’s true product. Both are now 100 year old brands because of this method.

Perhaps as artists we need to find a way to give away product by the thousands or tens of thousands to let people realize the quality of our brands, then they can go search online and find ways to buy, download, or stream our work. Or perhaps encourage then to contact us and bring our creative talents to them?

I know when I write these blog posts many of you sit there reading going, “Yeah, I can see that!” Or, “Yeah, right. Easy for you to say Bub!” But I create my own art just like you do. As I look at the finite amount of years left on this earth, I want as many people in the world to hear, read, and watch the creations I am making. If perhaps someone enjoys the music, writings, or visual media I create, and it touches them as much as one of my favorite bands, authors, or filmmakers does for me, then I will feel I achieved what God put me here for.

Can I hear an amen?

It's Just Marketing Folks

We let radio play (actually we pay THEM to play) our music for free hoping people will hear it and want to buy it, or at least be blessed by it. We put our paintings in (or pay to be in) galleries for free hoping people will buy our art. We do all sorts of free things online or contests we pay for, or let Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Vimeo, and the like play our music hoping for some pieces of pennies. All so our music will be heard.

We have to think of this as a radical, guerrilla type of marketing. Go find the real people in our country, or other countries. The ones who still listen to CDs, read books, and love art. Let them see, hear, and fall in love with our creative projects, then build a demand for our music in a more authentic, grassroots way than just hoping someone finds us online and discovers our genius.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Would you be willing to give away hard product to local thrift stores, hospitals, retirement communities, or have your art given away for free at fairs, colleges, and trade shows? What if we had a system to give thousands or tens of thousands of pieces away? Would you want to be part of it?

I know I would.

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland is giving his music and books away where he can to get people listening and reading, and also selling and licensing it online. For more about his creations go to, or for more writings like this one go to

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Prepared Beforehand

“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above--spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” - EPHESIANS‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

This verse just got me one day: Prepared Beforehand. Did you read that? God literally set your path as a creative, as His workmanship to do good works. That HAS to be make you feel nothing but good. Even if you feel nothing has happened with your artwork, or your songs, or whatever creative things you have made. Read the verse again.

This is one of those verses that really needs no blog post. No cheer leading from me needed. No other pithy quotes that should inspire you more.

Just read that verse a couple of times.

OK, one more quote, and this one hit me hard inspiring a whole new project coming up.
“Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
God prepared us to live as creative beings and deal with these things. Even if God isn’t your cup of tea, read the MLK quote and marvel over its significance to our creative lives.

OK, that’s all I got for you. If those two don’t inspire you today, you’re on your own. But I hope they do, and you write a great poem, book, song, or otherwise make awesome stuff this week!

Eric Copeland is composer, author, and does other creative things. It just depends on the moment. To see his creative things go to 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Magic Beans

We all have wished we could find that "one person", that company, A&R, or publisher who would hear our songs or see our art, and recognize our genius. Then, like the magic beans that grew into a beanstalk, we could sit safely on the side while all our dreams came true and the songs/music/art got out there, and money flowed in. However, there is one big flaw in this plan: It almost never works like that.

I took magic beans with me to Nashville a dozen times in my teens and 20s. Even 30s. Hoping that the person I was going to meet, be it a songwriter, a producer, a person at a label, or whoever, would see and hear in my music what I did: that it needed to be shared with the world. But each time, I met rejection, disinterest, or a hearty slap on the back. 

“I really can’t help you.”

“This really isn’t for us”

“Keep trying, kid!”

Beans planted. No beanstalk. No golden goose.


You probably know the story from here. I built my own beanstalk. I am the giant, but I’m a friendly giant. And everyone can have the golden goose, as long as they work as hard as I do.

Work, not Beans
“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” – Calvin Coolidge
It wasn’t the magic beans that made the story, it was Jack’s determination, talents, and attitude. That’s what also makes the difference for creatives trying to navigate through the music industry. It’s not a contest at IMMERSE or So You Think You Can Dance, it’s not a showcase or art show where the “right” person sees you. It’s a never quit mindset where you aren’t focused on today, or what someone says about you, but about what legacy you leave on this earth as an artist.

To establish a creative life that means something, that will leave a lasting impression on this earth long after you are gone, means going ahead and putting the magic beans in a nice chili one night. While that is cooking up, make a list of what needs to be done now, next week, next month, and next year to further your creative career

What are the steps, the work, you need to do to make your creative career go?

Use Evernote, or some program to keep on your phone and computers, and refer to that when you are bored or in your quiet time, instead of endlessly scrolling on Facebook or Instagram. Keeping your goals and action steps in front of you is paramount in getting them done. Doing this for a creative career can be the difference between someone who has talent and is never heard, to a career that is remembered and art that is cherished by others.

Finding Someone to Help You Get Work Done
"No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." - Alfred North Whitehead
Building your team to accomplish your action steps is the next most important thing. In almost any artistic career, the first thing to be doing is finding the right people in the genre you plan to attack. Research producers who can help you make music. Find the right programs you can study with for your particular craft. Who does work you like? Who looks easy to work with? Can you find contact information for them? Research the companies or online sites that can help you market your art once you make it. Can you contact them? Is it even time to contact them? Do you have quality works, the right branding for your stuff to even approach those people yet? (If not go back to Work, not Beans)

Sometimes you can start these relationship at events in your industry. Sometimes it’s a reach out on Facebook, or LinkedIn. Sometimes you know someone who can introduce you.

The main thing to remember is don’t count on magic beans to work. We have come full circle now. If I had relied only on an introduction and then waiting for that person to make my career go, I would have no career, and you wouldn’t be reading this now.

It’s not about beans. Beans are for Mexican food and gas. It’s about hard work. It always is. In any business. The entertainment business is no different.

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland is a composer, author, and other creative things that he does often times right before or after eating beans, since they are in his diet! If you’d like to get help with what you are trying to do creatively, check out all the creative things he does at or his personal site at

Monday, January 01, 2018

A Positive New Beginning

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Each year at this time we make resolutions, or think about making resolutions, and as I’ve written in the past its actually more important to be resolute. In truth, I prefer to think of this time of year as a chance for new positive beginnings.

After the holidays while it’s quiet, and everyone is hiding inside away from the cold, is a great time to begin anew getting your creative brand out there. It’s the optimal season for figuring out new ways to make positive moves into new things, or maybe old things.

We all know the gnawings and cravings of our creative soul calling us to get back to the thing that drives us. The music, the writing, the art, the ideas, the unfinished works; these are the things we can run from when we know we need to make money, but we can’t get very far from them. They are the things that define us, that make us different, that when people experience them they are agog with wonder that we can do that.

This time of year is my favorite time to not make resolutions that I “have” to do these things, but to actually begin making changes in my daily routine and my life so that I “will” do these things. That may mean some serious changes that you’ve not been prepared to make in the past. Maybe you were afraid of the sacrifice. Maybe it was easier to stay the course and make sure you didn’t make waves. Maybe you weren’t willing to make changes to your career, your sleep patterns, or your schedule.
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.” – Jack Canfield
Instead of resolutions, what about just deciding on a new beginning. Taking positive steps toward being what God made you to be. Accepting the call, taking a leap, putting away the things that may have been hindrances all this time (even things that seemed like good ways to spend your time). These are the hardest to do.

Yes, I can teach, but is THAT why God put me here? Yes, I could start a business doing this or that, but is THAT why God put me here? Yes, I could work for others my whole life helping them achieve their goals and dreams, but is THAT my true purpose, or simply something God has blessed while He patiently waits for me to remember why He put me here.

In this reflective time, it’s easier said than done. Bills must be paid, food and shelter attained, and responsibilities met. But there comes a time in our life when we begin to look at the time we have left on this earth to achieve what He gave us to achieve. The recent passing of my creative mother (church organist for 43 years, piano teacher for decades, and in the past few years an avid painter) has made me see that we all have a limited amount of time to create here in this life.

The time is now to get to the creative projects, songs, films, paintings, routines, sculptures, books, poems, and whatever other artistic leanings we have. The projects we have left unfinished. The ideas we have left unattended. The goals we set for ourselves long ago that we let lapse as we worked to make a living, a family, or build a business.

This is the time of year to think positive again not just about the “dream”, but the call, the works, and maybe most important, the legacy. What will we leave behind for this world? What positive, lasting change can we make with the gifts God has given us?

I wish you good luck finding these answers, as I also seek them. Be positive, no matter how hard it seems. You can do it, and you’ll be glad you did.
“Every revolution seems impossible at the beginning, and after it happens, it was inevitable.” – Bill Ayers
I hope you have a great new year, filled with creating, achievement, and fulfillment.


Eric Copeland is a composer, author, pianist, short film maker, and graphic artist. Find out more about his creative things at, and

Monday, September 18, 2017

Such Little Time

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

We have a finite time on this earth to create. That has never been more clear to me than watching my mother lose her desire and then her ability to create in her battle with cancer. A pianist for 70 years, a church organist for over 40, and more recently a painter, she recently lost the will to play or create when the cancer began to ravage her body. More intense and devastating than we (and very likely she) imagined, this life long creative saw her only focus being on getting through each day, and then just surviving.

This  should make us all mindful of our short time not only on this earth, but the small window we have to create as the great Creator made us in His image. We have to get to work people!

I always find it funny when people who have the talent to do something just don’t. I find it frustrating when I find a new music artist and look back to see they stopped making records, or only have one or two recordings and no more. Now, I know that doesn’t mean they likely quit making music, but maybe just didn’t have a way or the help to get it out there.

All of us have many ideas for creative projects. I’ve been sitting on two albums myself, and finally just got my new piano record out recently. But I have many more projects in production or in line for creation. A new jazz record which I’m sure fans of that brand would love to hear (probably wondering why we haven’t released more things like I lamented about others above!) I have novels, more albums, stories, musicals, TV shows, and many other ideas in the hopper.

The Dreaded Work Problem

So why aren’t I getting to them? Probably the same reason you aren’t getting to yours, and they have nothing to do with being incapacitated, sickness, or even laziness.

We all have this thing “work” to do. That thing we have to do in order to keep a roof over our head, food on the table, and bills paid. Very few people I know can both create what they want and have it make their entire living. It’s actually very stressing to do. It can make being creative seem like a real slog and like actual work. And the last thing you want is creating to feel like work you want to get away from.

Now those who know me as a music producer, music arranger, and even composer may think my work for clients would be fulfilling enough. I must say I am lucky that I do get paid to do creative tasks all day. But still, there is an extra mile of joy when you release your own creations that came from your brain.

I think the key is to find and make time, and even squirrel away dollars to let your personal creativity have it’s room in your life. Special times you make for creating. Other times you assign for working on the real tasks of getting that creation out there.

If We Don’t Create It Who Will?

It’s not going to magically happen. Someone who cares needs to do the work, and that someone is you. If you don’t, then no one will care enough, even if maybe you are paying them.

I know the pride my mom got from her paintings, and she was really starting to enjoy the classes, giving them to friends, showing them at local art shows, and just the pleasure of creating. But time and age take us all, and it also limits our window for creating.

I look at my life now with a smaller possible window than ever before to get out all the creative projects I want to in my life. I hope like me, you will see the importance of your artistic contribution to the world, and the urgency there has to be with the finite time God has given us on this earth to create works.

Join me. Let’s get to work!

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” –  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


Eric Copeland is a composer, author, and is literally thinking of new projects every day and has since he was a kid. His one focus is to get out all the creations the Great Creator gave him. His company Creative Soul can help you create your next works while he creates his. Are you ready to get to work before your creative time runs out? Contact us here and let’s talk!

Monday, August 07, 2017

You Can’t…Not

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” – Albert Einstein

Some people say they want to do something creative. It may be singing, songwriting, dancing, acting, or some other creative thing. They want to do it, but they don’t do it. This is where I find the true drop off between the people who are successful in creative careers, and those who are not.

The people who are successful cannot ‘not’ do it. They simply keep doing their craft day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. They have a history of doing creative work, and continuing or re-continuing creating. They may stop for a while, but always comes back. Always.

It’s like a cold that you just can’t get rid of. You could even purposely try to quit, thinking this is not the career for you. You can take another career, and pursue it with vigor, but still your creativity will not die and it will not stop.

You will write down ideas in Evernote, sing things into your phone, scribble in the margin of your pages. Your daydreams will get you in trouble, and your real dreams will have you on these creative adventures in places like studios, with casts of thousands working with you towards your creative goals.

Right now you are reading this and you are nodding, and you are maybe even in tears, because you know this is you.

I know because this is me too. Everything I have written to this point I do still. When I was at a corporate job, or I was in school, or I was in church, or even in some place where there was nothing creative going on around me like a hospital, or a funeral, or a wedding. Even in movies, plays, or sporting events, I was dreaming of what I wanted to do. I’m sitting here still dreaming of it.

I think a lot of people get hung up on the fact that they may not be able to make the living that they need to with their creative skills. And sometimes this is true. Especially in the music business these days it is very hard to make a living in the traditional way music artists have always made. But an artist’s life has never been easy.

To this I say, this is why God gave us day jobs, why He invented fundraising. Who said that your music, acting, dancing, painting, or anything that you inherently do has to support you? Believe me doing creative work to pay your bills is not the dream you may think it is.

“An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.” –  Vincent Van Gogh

Yes there could be altruistic reasons to create art. It can before ministry reasons , it can be for art, or other reasons. It could just be to make people feel better. But wonder if it’s just to add to the kingdom of God? What if it’s to add to the quality of YOUR life? Or to the life of your friends, family, workmates, or someone else is connected to you personally?

But none of this really matters. It doesn’t matter if it makes you money, it doesn’t matter if it pleases those around you, and it doesn’t matter if it makes you rich or famous.

If you are a true creative, you won’t be able to NOT be creative. Welcome to the club!

“Any musician who can stop may be a musician, but they’re no artist. If it’s in your blood, it can’t stop flowing.” – Paul Westerberg

So maybe just give in. Quit trying to run from it, deny it, or drown it. Stop thinking of quitting because you aren’t getting the notoriety or not making money you thought you would. And definitely don’t stop because someone told you to, or that you aren’t good enough.

Unless you can indeed stop. And in that case maybe this creative thing is not for you.

But I bet you can’t not keep creating…

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” – Abraham Maslow

Have a great week.


Eric Copeland is a composer, author, and is literally thinking of new projects every day and has since he was a kid. His one focus is to get out all the creations the Great Creator gave him. His company Creative Soul can help you create your next works while he creates his. Are you ready to get to work before your creative time runs out? Contact us here and let’s talk!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Which Talent to Focus On?

“The jack-of-all-trades seldom is good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” – Napoleon Hill

Almost all of us creatives face the same problem: we are creative in more than one area. We like to write songs, or perform, or paint, or pen novels, or develop web sites, or produce music or video works, or [insert your creative thing here].

The problem comes when we equally love a few or ALL of our passions. Maybe you just feel like writing today, or just playing the piano/guitar, or painting something, or creating a video. They are all fun! And isn’t that the point of our talents anyway, to have fun using them?

But then our “right mind” says, you can’t waste your time being a jack of all trades, you need to pick one and become a master of it. You even hear this from teachers, or so-called “professionals” (like me).

So how do you choose which one to work the hardest on? Which needs to take a back seat? And which one needs to be completely stricken from the creative ledger!

You’re going to like the answer!

The short answer is you can still do all of them, but we need to break them down by how people react to them, how they bring in support to keep them going, and which ones might just be complimentary to what you are doing.

The Thing That People React To

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.” – Dwight L. Moody

There’s a reason we started doing what we do. It’s the artistic thing we naturally did that people seemed to be interested in. We may stray from it, but it always comes back in the reaction we get from people when we do it.

Sometimes I forget that I started all this music stuff because I loved composing. I’ve written music for both for vocals and instrumentals for 40 years exactly this year. It’s always been the thing that has been my bedrock, the talent that no matter who heard it people were extremely positive about (well other than a handful of publishers or contest judges that is). Just a few weeks ago I had to play something for a class I’m taking, so I played a piano piece I’ve been developing the last few years. After I played the teacher asked who wrote it, both the teacher and other student in the room seemed surprised that I was the composer. The next class the student even came up and asked me if I had it recorded or had other material he could have.

It never fails to be the one talent I have that gets a positive reaction and always has been.

As you apply this to yourself, think about that creative thing that people seem to marvel that you do. It’s probably pretty easy to know what it is. That talent is likely what you should always focus on, but there is a caveat to this…

The Thing that Can Make You a Living

“To work to make the lives of others better is the most rewarding work of all.” – John Walters

After writing songs for years and making recordings of them, it became clear that an emerging talent of mine in my 20s and 30s was recording other music artists and songwriters. Then adding in other talents I had in computers, graphic design, video shooting and editing, and knowledge of Internet and programming, I could help artists with just about everything a record label could.

In short, being a full-service music consulting, studio production, and marketing company has been what has supported me for the last 20 years. Yes, composing and my other music skills as a keyboard player and programmer have been part of this, but the talent that has fed me is my ability to work for others making their creative dreams come true.

You may find this true for you as well. I’ve known music artists who support themselves as teachers or church music directors. I’ve known painters who pay their bills by graphic design work. Many would say being a music teacher, worship leader, or graphic designer is a pretty creative life, and it provides a living for you and your family.

So, there may be a creative talent you have that must be top notch to provide income for all the other things you like to do. This takes time to build, and dedication to make you someone who others will pay for this service.

Complimentary Creative Skills

“I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.” – Liam Neeson, Taken

This is where all those other things come in. A Worship Arts Director does a lot more than just worship leading. They might need to use their songwriting, singing, playing, video, web, and other skills each and every day to make services come off without a hitch. A teacher may need writing, artistic, and other creative skills to lead a class effectively. Sometimes the real trick is having the knowledge about all these things just to make sure you bring in the right people to do them.

As a producer, I need all the skills I have learned to help music artists in every phase of their careers. I’ve been designing web sites for 20 years. I sometimes do graphic design for the CD art of some projects. Many lower cost video projects I edit and even shoot sometimes. It’s here where all these skills come out and are needed.

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack

I like to tell people, I’m a jack of all trades, but master of three. I have focused most on composing/writing because it’s just who I am, and producing because it provides my living. But because I have worked as a video editor, a web developer, a graphic designer, and a consultant for hundreds of clients corporate, commercial, and independent for 20 years, I have some mastery in all these.

So, while I urge you to pick something to master in for 20 years, you should feed all those other talents that come along. Be careful to keep your focus on the thing that people react to, and maybe that thing can even be what supports you. Remember that another talent you have may actually be the one that provides income, and that’s okay. And don’t be afraid to develop the complimentary talents you have as well.

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland does many things, as you just read. He works daily as a consultant, producer, composer, and many more things and works for folks helping them realize their creative dreams. If you’d like to know more go to

About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at