Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why Quitting Isn’t an Option

"There's only one thing that can guarantee our failure, and that's if we quit. - Craig Breedlove

So, you've decided that since nothing is happening with your music, ministry, or talents that you should just hang it up. Go do something else. Maybe this music thing is just not for you.

No one is knocking at your door or the phone isn't ringing with requests for what you do. Nothing has really happened as you have tried to get out there. Sales are low, or nonexistent.

So, you've come to the logical conclusion that God is trying to tell you to quit doing this.

Really? Is that how you think God works? Is that how He worked in the Bible?

Abraham knew he was old to have children, and that Sarah couldn't physically. But God didn't say, "You know, forget it you geezers. You really are too old for kids." Instead God said to Abraham, "Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Or when Paul was in the boat during the great storm and the men thought all was lost, God didn't send an angel to Paul saying "I'd hit the lifeboats!" He instead told Paul to hold on.

God does not suggest quitting. If anything, He tells us to endure, and for a quite interesting reason.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." - Hebrews 12:1

What I love about this verse is the first part. We are surrounded by people watching us and what we will do. If you have set an example to those around you that you are working to use the talents God has given you, and then give up, what kind of precedent are you setting? And not just for family or friends, but what about total strangers and acquaintances that are watching what a "Christian" does to see if they want to emulate that life?

When you think about it, Abraham and Paul were showing an example of faith by not giving up. We have to as well.

In the music world I live in, I get to work with many talented folks. But I would say they are successful for a reason that goes beyond their talent: They didn't quit. When it didn't make much money, they fought through the lean times. When it didn't bring fame, they woodshedded on it privately. When it didn't seem like there was any future in it, they kept at it anyway.

Many times people call me up and ask if I'm "still doing the music thing". I say yes, and sometimes that turns into paying work. I get paid to do this thing I love simply because I STILL do it.

I’ve also worked with many artists over the years, and some will work at it and stay with it, and some won’t. Early on clients will ask me why this artists is doing so well, and why some other artist isn’t (or has quit). There are a few answers to this. But mostly, the artists who found success simply stayed with it.

I'm interested in that thing that happens where there's a breaking point for some people and not for others. You go through such hardship, things that are almost impossibly difficult, and there's no sign that it's going to get any better, and that's the point when people quit. But some don't. - Robert Redford

There’s no real equation to it, and in fact it may be something personality driven and having very little to do with talent. In fact sometimes just keeping at it, continuing to learn and grow, can be the very difference between working hard AT it and finding success working IN it.

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach

Lastly, let me say this. If you have heard a little voice in your ear saying it’s time to quit, don’t come to me and say God is telling you to quit. God does not whisper and tell us to quit, but to endure and run the race.

Enjoy your beautiful craft in whatever way you do it, however it serves God, and whenever inspiration strikes. Here’s something you CAN quit: all this talk of giving up.

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is writing all this because he didn’t quit when Nashville and others in the music business told him he didn’t have what they were looking for. And so, he built his own music business, and it’s turned out to be the new and likely future model for artists and songwriters just like you. For more info check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014

If For No One Else

Very often, you will strain your everlovin’ mind to think who needs to see or hear your stuff. Who needs to benefit from your talent? Why did God put you here in the first place if not to bless others with what you can do?

Then there are others days, maybe like today, where you feel no one is listening and even if they did, what you do wouldn't affect them one bit.

Now, this will NOT be a blog post about how you always have an audience of One, and God smiles at every song, painting, or photo you produce. (He does by the way, but this will not be about that.)

This post is to tell you that you probably wrote that song, crafted that prose, or thought out that dance routine because it pleased you. Something about it moved YOU inside. You want to come back to it and enjoy it.

And that’s…okay.

Yes, I am giving you permission to enjoy what you do. I am telling you it’s perfectly OK to enjoy your own work to the point where it completely makes YOUR day.

“True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.” - John W. Gardner

Sometimes I’ll hear an old song I wrote for myself, or for a client, and it will remind me why I do this. I’ll enjoy it, revel in it a little bit, and yes even be proud of myself for being part of it. But I think that’s part of what keeps me going, and not just in music.

How many days have you seen some of your own work, and maybe played it again, or let it kind of wash over you. And whatever else was going on that day, time just seemed to stand still?

I had a day like that the other day. We were getting ready to go out, and I just sat down at the piano and started randomly playing a piano piece I wrote last year. When I was done, my wife just looked at me and smiled. I smiled back. I explained where it came from and she just smiled. And it was a nice moment in the day, hopefully for her, but certainly for me.

I think that in itself is a huge reason we have our talents. Just to enjoy them, and to let them be a lovely part of our lives if not other lives. For some, like me, the best part is the writing and producing. For others it’s sharing them to others, often times onstage. For some it's just playing every weekend on the praise team. For others it’s piling into a camper and touring the country. ALL of these are correct and OK.

If for no one else, enjoy what you do and let it have a place in your life. Wherever that is. It can be a big huge thing that you have to quit your job to do, or it can occupy a small space that makes a brighter spot in your day or week.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  - Pablo Picasso

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a composer, producer, author, and president of Creative Soul, a unique Christian artist development and production company in Nashville, TN. Find out more about Creative Soul at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Are You Going to Do About It?

I remember a few times through my life, facing physical challenges on the playground or later a professional challenge, and being presented with this very question. What was I going to do to prove what believed in?

This past week was the Easter weekend. On Sunday, you saw everyone online proclaim what we Christians hold as the very tenet of our faith: He is Risen!

So I ask you, Creative person reading this, what are you going to do about it?

How are you going to make an impact with the gifts God has given you? What are you going to do this week or this year to spread this news besides some lame meme or quick cliche statement on your wall?

Sure you serve at church, but many people do that, even those God hasn't given the special gifts He has bestowed on you. What will YOU do with them especially in the light of the amazing truth we just celebrated about our Savior?

“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They'll stay faithful as long as it's safe and doesn't involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” - Charles Stanley

Here’s where it gets tricky...
While the usual thought of any Christian who is a musician, singer, or songwriter is that they must use their talents in their church, this isn't always the only or best possibility for you. Perhaps you are actually more comfortable NOT serving musically at your church, or perhaps the church you attend doesn’t want to, or can’t use your particular talents.

At this point, it’s easy to say, “Well, my church doesn't want what I do, or it doesn't fit there so I guess my risen Lord is out of luck with me.” You label yourself beyond help. You assume since your church has no use for what you do creatively then that’s the ballgame.

Well, that’s just silly. And short-sighted.

“I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.” - Tony Robbins

We live in a new age where you don’t necessarily need the church (or the music business for that matter) to get out and do something with your talents. For the past decade I have seen more creative people begin to realize that they CAN get out and become the artist, musician, entrepreneur, or songwriter they know God has for them to be.

They DON’T have to wait for the music pastor to deem them worthy to join the team. They DON’T have to wait for the music business or publisher to recognize their genius and sign them up. They CAN get this going themselves and be a force for a resurrected Son of God without anyone’s approval.

Excited in your faith? Know God has called you to do something with your talents? Do something about it.

“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don't know anything about.” - Joel Osteen

Yeah, what he said.

Have a great week.

EC
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Eric Copeland is a producer, composer, and arranger who helps Christian artists, musicians, and songwriters take their talents to a new level for the glory of God. Sound like fun? It really is. For more information check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

If you know God has great things for you to do and would like to find out all the options available to you, Creative Soul offers a one of a kind workshop in Nashville for Christian artists and songwriters. Come find out how and why to get started. Find out all the details at http://creativesoulonline.com/consulting-for-christian-music-ministries/christian-artist-workshop-2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Talent is Overrated

I've talked about talent many times in my blogs for Christian creatives, and recently have begun reading a fascinating book called “Talent is Overrated” by author Geoffrey Colvin.

The reason this book speaks to me, and I think might be interesting to you, is that the author posits that talent is perhaps not born already to go as we may have thought. For years, we have thought that the reason there were “talented geniuses” in music, sports, or business is that they must have been born that way; that they were more predestined by God than others to get “the gift”.

“The natural-gift explanation also explains why extraordinary performers are so rare; God-given talents are presumably not handed out willy-nilly. This explanation has the additional advantage of helping most of us come to somewhat melancholy terms with our own performance. A God-given gift is a one-in-a-million thing. You have it or you don’t. If you don’t—and of course most of us don’t—then it follows that you should just forget now about ever coming close to greatness.” – Geoffrey Colvin

And this is what we do. We assume that God in His infinite wisdom chose our music minister, or Michael W. Smith, or Mozart for greatness or at least a much higher level of creativity than us. We figure we just didn't get God’s blessing.

Talent and creativity is often snuffed out early in our lives by well-meaning teachers and parents bent on making sure we “do what we are best at.” They mainly mean, “quit fooling around and do your math homework so you can go to college!”

“I think children have talent and insight, but it gets beaten out of them.” - Rita Dove

And it only gets worse as we get older.

“In business we constantly see managers redirect people’s careers based on slender evidence of what they've “got.” Most insidiously, in our own lives, we will try something new and, finding that it isn't easy for us, conclude that we have no talent for it, and so we never pursue it.” – Geoffrey Colvin

Sound familiar? Ever just decided you must not be meant to do something because it wasn't easy or someone told you that you weren't any good at it? I meet new clients and creative folks every day who come to us for a new start in music ministry who feel they were beaten down early and quit. But God keeps working on them, and they try again.

In the book, Colvin looks into two examples everyone loves to run to when talking about “God-given talent”: Mozart and Tiger Woods. This is especially interesting to me since I am a huge fan of both. Mozart is my favorite composer, and I only watch golf if Tiger is in the hunt.

I have played pieces that Mozart wrote as a child (in fact, they are about all I can play by reading. Deepest regrets to my piano-teaching mother who gave it her best shot.) They are very sweet and beautiful pieces. But as Colvin posits and I can verify through my recent music history studies, these pieces were probably cleaned up and edited pretty good by a very musically talented father. In his early teens, Mozart studied with J.C. Bach (one of Johann Sebastian’s boys) and while nice, his compositions of this time certainly hearkened to his teacher’s style.

“Mozart’s first work regarded today as a masterpiece, with its status confirmed by the number of recordings available, is his Piano Concerto No. 9, composed when he was twenty-one. That’s certainly an early age, but we must remember that by then Wolfgang had been through eighteen years of extremely hard, expert training.” – Geoffrey Colvin

Tiger is actually a similar story. His dad was a scratch golfer with a single digit handicap before Tiger was born. From the time Tiger was a baby, he was around golf and getting a club put in his hand. Did he have natural talent? Or was it instilled and ingrained in him by a golf-focused father who recognized his son as smart and athletic? Even Tiger took a while to get to national prominence.

“Let’s call it age nineteen, when he was a member of the U.S. team in Walker Cup play (though he did not win his match). At that point he had been practicing golf with tremendous intensity, first under his father and after age four under professional teachers, for seventeen years.” – Geoffrey Colvin

So you see, yes Mozart and Tiger are great examples of talent, but it did not come without hard work.

“My God given talent is my ability to stick with training longer than anybody else.” - Herschel Walker

So this week, examine if you may have dropped your creative goals because you felt you weren't talented enough for them. Maybe it’s time to get back to work!

“Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: Are you ready?” - Johnny Carson

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland has been deliberately practicing his creative goals for 50 years, including today. How about you? Are you ready? Check out Creative Soul, a creative Christian service company that can help you get back to it today. http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com


I’m really enjoying the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoffrey Colvin and recommend you do too. To read an excerpt and buy it now, check it out at iTunes or Amazon.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

You Were Created to Serve

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I think all of us who are creative and trying to use our talents feel that God gave them to us for a reason. We feel they need to be used and nurtured, as well as shown off to the world. But that’s where thing get wonky.

When we show off our artistry, we can get all sideways with things. Suddenly we get concerned with odd things like what people will think, whether we are amazing, and even how we’ll make money at it. These things start to really affect how and sometimes even if we will continue to pursue our art.

I've even heard artists say or intimate that if no one is buying it, and there’s not money to be made here, then why pursue art at all?

If we can’t absolutely be the best at our chosen art form, what’s the freaking point?

But there’s a simple answer to these concerns.

“The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” - Albert Einstein

Like most of you, as a young songwriter and musician, I struggled to be as awesome as I thought I could be. I made my music and showed it off. I attempted to be seen and heard. I would dream, start projects, and often never finish them as I figured who would listen besides me anyway.

On the side, ever since my teens, I had helped friends and family make recordings after they found out I did that. Through the years, I figured out how to monetize that after apprenticing under another producer who worked with music ministries that needed recording. As the years went by, something miraculous happened: I realized that by serving others I could realize all the dreams I had about my creativity. It just hit me last week in a conversation with a client that this may in fact be the answer we’ve all been searching for.

The Serve is the Thing

We tend to think we are doing this to make CDs, show off our art, provide entertainment, or provide for our families, but where we should be focusing on is how we can best serve with our talents.

Once I shifted from personal brands like “Eric Copeland Music” to service brands like “Creative Soul”, suddenly my work had more meaning and worth than just for my personal uses. Once my focus was less on me and more on the people my music would serve, everything came into place. God started blessing what I was doing ten times more than when I was just doing it for my one-dimensional self-serving motives.

Now, I’m not saying that if you are doing your own music you aren't serving others, but when you focus less on the art itself and more on what the art can DO, then the world really opens up.

So often, recording artists make music without having any idea what will happen when they have CDs in their hands. There’s no focus on how to get in front of people, what to say to them, or even who those people need to be. Why? Because we haven’t figured out the audience we want to serve.

Now of course we’re serving God, but our service to Him is based in how we serve others for Him. That goes beyond just a stock answer of saying we want to serve God with the music or art we make.

How specifically can your art serve others? Is there a group or segment of the church that will really get served by you? Is there a unique way you will present your art that goes beyond the art to service? What stories from your personal experience do you have to tell? You have ideas, words, and real life experiences that others can relate to when they hear them through your testimony and songs.

This solves a variety of ills we have with what we are doing ministry-wise. It lets us be more than artists, songwriters, or speakers. Real serving with our gifts lets us make a difference that is above money, power, fame, or even talent.

"Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” - Thomas Kinkade

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is lead producer and president of Creative Soul, not so much a record label as a Christian music service company. We care for, speak to, counsel, produce, and assist Christian music ministries to make amazing music, then get out there and affect real change on the world. Can we help you? http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Value of the Valley

Creative highs and lows are what we call "An Occupational Hazard".

There's nothing like that awesome feeling where everyone gets what you are doing, and people are lining up to tell you how much you blessed them. You feel like you are making a difference in people's lives, and you see real results. You actually see God working right before your eyes.

But then, one day, the phone stops ringing. The church folk just seem a little distant. The songs just are not coming, and you wonder if you will ever write again. Life steps in with personal things you simply must deal with and you must put family issues on the front burner. Someone gives you a very negative review, one that hurts. You pray to God to give you strength, but truly feel like maybe He wants you to quit all this creative nonsense and go sell shoes.

"And then...depression set in"
- Bill Murray (Stripes)

Welcome to the valley, folks.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This Post is Awesome!

We have met with many artists, writers, and creatives through the years, and one of the first things they want to know is if they have the potential to be awesome. Now most also have a goal of ministering as part of their equation, but they also wonder how good they can be. Can they do this? Are they “good” when they sing, or write? Do they have the potential to be great?

Most people who encounter Creative Soul (including longtime readers of this and our other blogs) find out quickly and/or already know that we are not here to be star-makers. Our goal has always been to be of service to music ministries, and we kind of think it just so happens to be the very way people GET awesome.

You see, becoming awesome is not really as much about talent as you think (see more on this here). It’s much more of a state of mind. It’s how artists who matter, came to be a success in the first place. And that success is more about the way they do things than it is their enormous, shiny talent.

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 http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com