Career & Education

The pursuit of a singing career

Marsha J's story — Part 3

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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Starting a career in the music industry — where jobs range from the technical to the creative, from business and legal to therapy and coaching — can be daunting, but it can be as fulfilling, awe-inspiring, profitable, and purpose-driven as any other career choice. It requires the same level of commitment, training and investment as the pursuit of careers in law, medicine, customer care, and many others.

Gospel artiste Marsha J, who is launching her first album, Favor, this month, sat down with Career & Education (C&E) to discuss her path into the industry and all things related. She advises that, “Every singer needs a business model if he or she wants to become a recording artiste.”

Below is the final in our three-part conversation with the newly ordained minister.

C&E: As an individual, a gospel artist and an entrepreneur, what lights you up?

Marsha J: Having impact. It fills me up to see people emoting to my ministry. It is rewarding to see the people responding and allowing me to serve by taking them to a deeper level of worship. I remember once being asked by an individual to sing while they transition from this life. That was momentous. The individual died to the melody of my voice in their bed. I am so very humbled.

C&E: What lessons have you learned on your entrepreneurial journey?

Marsha J: The greatest lesson I have learned is to always be ready for an opportunity and learn how to identify them; be assertive, focus on your expected end and pursue it without fear. I have also learnt how to connect who I am — my values and motivation — to my business. My coach taught me that. By doing this, I not only attract the right types of clients, but I also know what works well for me and what doesn't. It is very important to ensure that you share the same or similar values with the companies or clients you work with.

C&E: You talk a lot about your coach and your team who you credit for taking you to where you currently are. Are you satisfied with the amount of support for female gospel artistes in general?

Marsha J: We talk about youth development and empowerment for women, however, I feel like that is limited to certain fields. Young musicians need support. We have talent, and music is a huge industry, but we lack support. Surprisingly, I believe it is even worst in ministry. And I am not being ungrateful by saying that. As a matter of fact, I am deeply thankful for the people at my church, my friends and the people who have been so loyal to me. I could never have done this without their continuous support. But in general terms, there is not enough support for musicians in general, and it's even worse for female musicians.

C&E: How would you advise someone reading this who has similar dreams of venturing into entreneurship?

Marsha J: To anyone reading this who dreams of going into the music business as an entrepreneur, I would say pray and ask God if this for you because not everyone with the talent is called to it. There are many good days and many days of discouragement but what will keep you going is knowing that you were called and chosen for this particular mantle. Also, learn to take advice and be quick to hear and slow to speak. Be yourself and be careful of opportunities that may change who you really are; not every opportunity is for you. However, learn how to recognise opportunities. Do not do this because you have a need; do it because you have a desired outcome. I learnt that in coaching.

C&E: How would you advise upcoming gospel artistes?

Marsha J: My career advice would be to first connect with God about your destiny. Then, get a coach (if Usain Bolt has one and he is the best, why shouldn't we?) This will 1. Determine if what you are doing is truly what you should be doing at this stage; and 2. Help you to acquire the steps needed to get to where you need to go. Just remember: Rome wasn't built in a day. Then do your research into the industry — ask a lot of questions , use social media, read books and e-books like How to make a living from music By David Stopps, and go to school, even if its 'YouTube university'.

In other words, there is 'the music', 'the music business' and 'the music industry'. Love the first, learn the second and be smart about the third. Having a great team is also key and remember to stay healthy and stay current. Also, take the initiative to participate in talent shows such as JCDC talent shows. These platforms offer amazing opportunities. If you have not yet been on one, you should! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you should fail at different points, fail forward (another good book). Be very observant in all things and practise kaizen - constant improvement. Support fellow ministers and also stay humble.

C&E: Tell me about your approach to ministry.

Marsha J: I choose to take a different approach; one that is more effective in the times we are living in. Marsha J Ministries places emphasis on one's spiritual awareness, not tradition. My focus is from religion to relationships — #R2R. I think sometimes we get too fixated on the institutions of worship and not enough work on building the relationships within. So I use the cross, which has a vertical and horizontal beam. In #R2R, the vertical beam symbolises our relationship with God, the most important relationship. The horizontal symbolises our relationship with each other. He says we are to love him and love each other and ourselves.

C&E: Do you incorporate new media/social media into your ministry?

Marsha J: I minister on all social media platforms (this includes YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, where my hande is @marshajministries) and my music is available on all digital platforms. I go live with music, messaging, devotionals and podcasting on Soundcloud, Podbean, Stitchers and also on Internet radio. Being a gospel artiste in today's society is exciting. I think it is also easier because you can create your own audience. You can connect directly with your followers, and you can grow your following without traditional media. Being a gospel artiste is productive and profitable simply because the core of it is ministry and as servants of Christ the commission of St Matthew 28 tells us to go and spread the good news and one way to do that is to use the gifts we have been given and scripture goes further to declare that our gifts will make room for us. I truly believe where God guides, He provides and where He leads, He feeds.

C&E: If you could start all over again, what would you do differently knowing the things you know now?

Marsha J: If I should start over again things I would do differently. I would choose music as my major in college, and embrace my gift earlier. I would not miss any opportunity because of fear. I would have got a career coach earlier, so I could better coordinate my thoughts to present a better argument to my parents so they too could see my music career possibilities.

C&E: Any last words?

Marsha J: I just want to say thanks to Stile Records, my label out of New York, GoInspired Jamaica Foundation, The MJM Band, JCDC, my parents and extended family, all MJM supporters everywhere, every organisation, promoter, media house, and church that have opened their doors to my ministry. Thank you!

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