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Author Topic: I have an idea!
MacManKrisK

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Icon 3 posted October 20, 2005 20:53      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have an idea that I buried last year, but it has come back to me this year and I want to share it and get opinions on it. But first, I feel the need to preset some background. I will outline the background with asteriks, you can skip the background part and not miss the idea that way.

****************************************************
I started singing at church (that is, in front of the congregation, not from within the congregation) at about the age of 8. My dad played the guitar and did his best to lead the congregation in song, and mom was sick one week, so I had to go stand in front with dad, and I've been doing it ever since. I started playing piano at about age 13 or so and shortly thereafter started playing the piano at church. It wasn't long until I was leading the group of musicians instead of just playing along.

Now I shall digress for a moment to make mention of the fact that I am a Roman Catholic. Please, don't take your transgressions with the Church out on me, I have my own misgivings about the Church, and I have my own reasons for remaining Catholic which are beyond the scope of this post. Take note, however, that it is a reasonably well-known stereotype that Catholics do not sing in church, at least not loudly, and certainly not with any sense of vigor. I will confess that the stereotype is mostly true, much to my chagrin. I have a theory as to why this is so, and it is twofold. First, for the last 500 or so years (up until 1965) the only thing sung in church was in Latin, which meant that no one really knew what it meant, nor really cared to sing it, nor had any particular feeling about it. Second, and this is the one that I am trying to combat, Catholic music leaders/organists/etc. feel as if they must play EVERY note on the page without regard for singability of the song they are attempting to lead. Put more simply, they are not there to LEAD the congregation in song, but simply to PLAY the music that is on the page in the most beautiful and impressive way possible.

Okay, rant over. The way I play at church is much more simple. For those musically minded: I play a chord, sometimes arpeggiated, and the melody line, sometimes accompanied by one harmony, but never anything more complicated then that. I have been told many times over that the way I play makes it very easy to sing along with me. The proof is in the pudding, however, when you compare the number of people that sing at the Mass I play for, compared to the other weekend Masses. So, my theory is not that Catholics don't /want/ to sing, but that they just can't find the melody.

Enough background... on to my idea.
*************************************************

I know it's only October, but I need time to develop this, so.. think Christmas music. The one argument I have with retail Christmas music (that is the Christmas CD's you can buy in the store, through the Time Life Christmas Collection, Amazon.com, etc...) is that it is all very "done up," that is, it's heavially instrumentated, includes awkward interludes, complex harmonies, key changes, and in general is hard to sing along with.

I want to remedy this horrible gap in the retail Christmas music genre. Shouldn't Christmas songs be made to be sung along with? Some families don't have any musicians to play for them, and wouldn't it be nice if they could gather around the radio and all sing along together, as a family, at Christmas? The thought of that brings tears to my eyes...

I really want to do this, to produce a CD like this. I have the basic equipment that I'd need. My iBook has Audacity and an iMic, and a microphone. Not as professional as a full recording studio, but with patience and many retakes to get it just right, I could make an excellent quality recording.

But how do I market it? This is obviously not something a record company would want, nor would they want to have me as the singer/musician. Moreover, I don't want to deal with the evil record companies if I can at all avoid it. Could I set up an eBay store to sell them? How would I get people to my eBay store? Use CafePress? Again, how would I get customers there? I just don't know how I'd market it.

Should I even bother doing this?

--------------------
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get rich and you still die"


Posts: 2331 | From: Southwest Michigan, USA | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
CommanderShroom
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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 21:09      Profile for CommanderShroom     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First off while I am not a Christmas / Religious music fan I do hope you can accomplish what you want.


http://cdbaby.net/

They have a distribution option for indie artists. Might be worth looking into.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 21:11      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think it's a brilliant idea, MMKK. (And furthermore, as a former church pianist for a Lutheran church—which denomination's music is not so different from Catholics'—I understand your reasoning. The Lutheran Book of Worship actually does what you do: just the melody and the basic chords underneath the music for the liturgy. Congregational singing is a bit different, but it's based on four-part harmony, which practically everyone at every church for which I've worked has known, understood, and sung without much, if any, difficulty.)

On to your marketing scheme...

You have SOOOO many target audiences that it'll be difficult to target one or two. Let me list them:

1) Accompaniment for kids' Christmas programs.
2) Accompaniment for Christmas caroling when it's too cold to bring a guitar (or no one knows how to play).
3) Useful for leading singing in Sunday School or Children's Church.
4) Orchestrated correctly, could provide beautiful-in-its-simplicity background music for opening presents, relaxing in front of a fire, or other such quiet pursuits.
5) Accompaniment for soloists for church Christmas services (Special Music or Offertories, in particular).

And variations on those themes.

You asked about distribution. Create about 100 CDs, then give them to everyone you know; including those of us on GC. We'll listen to them, then rave to our friends and clergy. We'll try them out in Sunday School or Children's Church (my students are always clamoring for Christmas music, even in September!), then take our results to our local music stores and book stores (Christian or otherwise). We'll ask to put up a display to sell the CDs. We'll give some to our local radio stations as prize giveaways. We'll direct people to your website where they can sample the music and order more CDs. We'll sell them on eBay and/or Amazon or maybe iTunes. We'll make sure they're in our www.Audioscrobbler.com playlists so people check them out. (And we can track how many people have listened to the songs!)

Sound like a workable plan?

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garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 21:29      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Do it all over the internet via Amazon.com and a few similar sites, as well as all the Catholic and other Christian book and music sites. Reciprocal link everywhere. Offer your product as a fund-raiser to Youth Groups and Scouts, etc. Advertize on cable for your local market.

There are many companies that can reproduce (produce) your CD's for you as well as handle order fulfillment much more efficiently and economically than you can yourself.

MMKK: PM me for more details or specifics. I deal with a lot of these people.

gg

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 21:35      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Many churches these days have web sites, usually including the contact details of the shaman, or someone on the comittee.

So, hesitant as I am to suggest this....

SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM...

Set up an ebay site to sell from, put up a couple of 'free samples' in MP3 format that potential buyers can listen to, and then go hunting for church websites...

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MacManKrisK

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Icon 11 posted October 20, 2005 21:48      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
OH MY GOSH! I never expected so many replies so soon! This is very encouraging for me. [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

Keep the ideas and encouragement coming, I need all I can get! Plus, what would you like to see on the playlist? Obviously, the two big words here are PUBLIC DOMAIN. I want to lean toward the Christian side of Christmas, too, and away from the commercial and froofy side, although I think Jingle Bells will make the cut simply because of it's long and rich tradition.

Now that I'm pretty decided upon doing this, I'm having trouble thinking of Christmas Carols... go figure...

--------------------
"Buy low, sell high
get rich and you still die"


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garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 22:16      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Check out the Mannheim Steamroller site (American Gramaphone) for additional ideas on both the selection of music and the marketing method. Chip Davis started exactly the way you're describing - grassroots marketing. If you haven't already, read his story.

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Posts: 3752 | From: Pluto, no matter what you call it, is still my home. | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 22:18      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
O Little Town of Bethlehem
O come O come Emmanuel
Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah"
O come all ye faithful
Joy to the World
Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella
Away in a Manger (both tunes)
Silent Night
What Child is This?
Sweet Little Jesus Child
Little Drummer Boy
Still, Still, Still (a la Mannheim Steamroller; their version is gorgeous!)
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
I saw three ships come sailing in
Jesus, our brother, kind and good (although might be LDS, so check about that)
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Coventry Carol

and a few more are bouncing around in my head. I can go through my hymnals on Sunday (too much to do before then)

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 22:45      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
All I can add at the moment to RHonnie's list is "Go Tell it on the Mountain".

OH, and "We three kings" THe real version. Not the rubber cigar version.

Ummm...

O Holy Night?
Carol of the Bells (for the truly talented)?
O Christmas Tree?
Here we come a'wassailing?
Good King Wenceslas?
We Wish you a Merry Christmas

/me racks brain

/me comes up with Nutcracker music
Can't sing along with that...
But you can dance...

If you put Sleigh Ride on your CD I will hunt you down and hurt you. Consider yourself warned.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
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MacManKrisK

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 22:54      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rhonwyyn's list (annotated):

O Little Town of Bethlehem (yes!)

O come O come Emmanuel (hrm, more advent, but perhaps)

Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" (hahahah no!, no way to simplify that)

O come all ye faithful (already thought of that one, incl. the latin)

Joy to the World (oh yes)

Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella (ick, I never liked this one)

Away in a Manger (both tunes) (well, both tunes on one CD would be a bit strange, but I think the common one is almost a necessity)

Silent Night (what Christmas album is complete without this?)

What Child is This? (good one!)

Sweet Little Jesus Child (huh? don't know this one)

Little Drummer Boy (ah, one I'd not thought of... is it copyrighted?)

Still, Still, Still (a la Mannheim Steamroller; their version is gorgeous!) (I'm not sure if this could be made simple)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing (duh! right, why didn't I think of this?)

I saw three ships come sailing in (a defanate "maybe" (I'm not a huge fan of this one))

Jesus, our brother, kind and good (never heard of this one)

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (ah, yes, in 6/8, one of the most complicated Christmas Carols there is, but it can be made singable for sure!)

Coventry Carol (again, I'm not a fan of this one)

A few I came up with while reading this list:

Good Christian Men Rejoice (which begs the question: to de-sexualize or to not de-sexualize?)

Angels From The Realms of Glory

We Three Kings

Angels We Have Heard on High (Gloria, a.k.a. Gloo-o-o-o-o-oo-o-o-o-o-oo-o-o-o-o-oo-ria In Excelsis Deo)

/me thwacks the side of his head...there's more in here, I know it!

EDIT: Oh, and the "orchistration" will be my piano and guitar. Thanks to the magic of multi-track recording this is doable and I can...*ahem* play with myself... [blush]

--------------------
"Buy low, sell high
get rich and you still die"


Posts: 2331 | From: Southwest Michigan, USA | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2005 23:22      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
O Come O Come Emmanuel is absolutely poignantly beautiful!!! Except when my sisters sing it in parallel fourths or fifths. Oy! [Razz]

Oh, and don't worry about two versions of Away in the Manger. You have enough material for at least two CDs, maybe three. [Big Grin]

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maximile

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Icon 1 posted October 21, 2005 01:56      Profile for maximile   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It sounds like an awesome idea. I request God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

I bet it'll take longer than you think, though, when you take into account all the distribution etc. Don't wait until Christmas Eve to start recording. [Wink]

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted October 21, 2005 03:12      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A lot of my favourites there but you missed Chistina Rosetti's

"In the Bleak Midwinter"

which always gets to me.

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Super Flippy

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Icon 1 posted October 21, 2005 08:11      Profile for Super Flippy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Here's a list of public domain Christmas songs.

I used to belong to a Songwriters Association, and they said that Christmas music is usually recorded during the late summer so it's ready in time for holiday shopping and Christmas show preparation.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 21, 2005 13:30      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
How about Christmas Song?
An aussie classic. (not for delicate eyes)

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MacManKrisK

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Icon 1 posted October 22, 2005 19:36      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
How about Christmas Song?
An aussie classic. (not for delicate eyes)

I don't think I'll use that one, Druid, but theres a Christmas song made famous by Mister Garrison that I've been thinking of using. (not for minors, that means you Tut, and Taco [Razz] )

Okay, in all seriousness, no, I don't see either of those quite fitting the bill here.

One of the hardest parts of doing this album is the fact that I can't play off of anyone else's sheet music as, even though the tunes arn't copyrighted, the scores are. So I have to write my own scores for each of these songs, which will take a considerable amount of time. :-/

I've decided to make this CD my final project for my music theory class, which accomplishes two goals: first, I can have a pretty unique final project (that I can distribute copies of to the class), and second, I'm already half-way through the semester so I'm going to have to work my butt off to get it done in time, which means that it'll be done in time for Christmas wether I want it to or not! Nothing like the threat of a failing grade to motivate me. [Big Grin]

--------------------
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get rich and you still die"


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YaYawoman

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Icon 1 posted October 22, 2005 20:21      Profile for YaYawoman     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi. YaYa here. Go for it! That sounds like a great idea. Don't forget O Holy Night. If someone already mentioned it in another post oops. If you need more encouragement or just a foot up the butt to get you moving let us know. I'm very good at foot-shoving. Haha. Keep your eye on the goal and sleep when you're dead.
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MacManKrisK

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Icon 3 posted October 27, 2005 21:49      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I just laid down a demo recording, only instrumental. This was done in my apartment. I had to unplug my refrigerator, shut down my Linux system, and be vewwy vewwy quiet. Basically I just want to show everyone what my "style" is like.

This is one instrumental verse of Silent Night, it should be very easy to sing along with. It is in the key of A, instead of Bb, because "heavenly peeeeeeeaaaaaceeee" isn't so gosh darn high (and thus hard to sing!).
Silent Night (~1MB)

This was recorded (horribly) using my iBook, iMic, and a cheap headset microphone. The sound quality isn't great and I need new guitar strings. I talked to my professor tonight about using the recording studio at the college and I will know by Monday if I can do that. If I am allowed to use it, I will have much better sounding recordings.

Edit: supergoo suggested (in IRC) that I increase the piano volume a bit. I did, and here is the result. Silent Night 2 (~1MB)

Which do ya'll like better??!!

--------------------
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get rich and you still die"


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garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 05:54      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh yeah! That'll sell.

Second version is the "easier" of the two.

Simply Singable "Kris K. Plays Your Christmas Favorites in the most singable style and range you'll ever hear. The whole family will love to join in."

Go MMKK, go!

BTW way, I employ a similar methodology to Greensleeves (What Child Is This) and alter the arrangement slightly for each verse (piano = crossovers, octave spacing, etc.) and have found it to be similarly easy to sing along with.

gg

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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MacManKrisK

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 14:04      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
GG! "Simply Singable" I love it! I'd been trying to come up with a concise way to state "easy to sing along with." Thanks! The name of the CD is "Heavenly Peace", so I guess it'll come out like

code:
Heavenly Peace:
Simply Singable Christmas carols the whole family will love!



--------------------
"Buy low, sell high
get rich and you still die"


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supergoo

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 16:33      Profile for supergoo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MacManKrisK:
although I think Jingle Bells will make the cut simply because of it's long and rich tradition.

Actually, the tune from Jingle Bells is a Christian song in Spanish, called "El Portal de Belén" or something like that.

My suggestion would be to include songs that most people know the words to, if this is going to be billed as a "singable" album. While my personal favorites are O come O come Emmanuel and Carol of the Bells, more people would know the words to songs like Silent night. And YES definitely include O Little town of Bethlehem.

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ewomack
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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 19:49      Profile for ewomack   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The origin of "Jingle Bells" is pretty controversial. A number of people claim authorship. Look here for one version of the story: Jingle Bell trivia. Plus, the english lyrics aren't particularly religious (it sounds like you're looking for religiously bent xmas music, not "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me").

There is a version of "Jingle Bells" in español that goes something like: "Ding ding dong ding ding dong vamos a contrar." So if the inglés version sells, maybe you could dollop up a versión de español?

I don't want to be a pooper, but I know I've seen something like this in various forms elsewhere. Many xmas CDs exist for kids to sing along to, and the vocals and harmonies are kept pretty simple. And then there's the oodles of Christmas karoke discs out there. They're also made for the relatively tone deaf. Regardless, I think you should still do it (I would never try to discourage anyone from a musical venture, having done many myself). So please take this more as a word of caution than as discouraging. But, if you're looking to market this, be sure to do it in a way that makes you stand out from other such products. Otherwise you might have trouble selling it. But even if you don't make a penny you still have the satisfaction of having done something fun and interesting.

Good luck! [Big Grin]

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Alan!
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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2005 12:02      Profile for Alan!     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
holy motherfucker.

everyone has hundreds of sides to their personalities and experiences. i'd like to admit to (once) being an organist for a roman-catholic organisation (aka church), but with all the personally identifable information i've left here over the years, i may become personally identifiable (!)

i think it is very interesting to see this, perhaps we can have a forum "100 things you don't know about me, and wouldn't expect to have co-habiting this forum with you"

w00t.

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Alan!

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GMx

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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2005 12:21      Profile for GMx     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
Many churches these days have web sites, usually including the contact details of the shaman, or someone on the comittee.

So, hesitant as I am to suggest this....

SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM...

Set up an ebay site to sell from, put up a couple of 'free samples' in MP3 format that potential buyers can listen to, and then go hunting for church websites...

Cafe Press lets you do this with your product. They put up streaming audio of the tracks ala iTunes.
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MacManKrisK

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Icon 1 posted November 11, 2005 05:24      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
While I was playing around, I made this specifically with Rhonwyyn in mind, 'cause I know she's a bit of an organ fanatic...

Note: this was played on my Yamaha PSR-295 with some..uhm.. creative settings and all of my fingers, but only a one-track (stereo) recording.

http://home.comcast.net/~macmankrisk/Joy_to_the_organ.mp3 (892K)

--------------------
"Buy low, sell high
get rich and you still die"


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