Bren McLean


by on Aug.02, 2016, under Worship


Making a church album is a daunting task. Whether it’s a live recording or a studio album, there are so many traps you can fall into. In my 9 year’s at St Paul’s, I have been involved in 4 album projects and when people ask me for advice I usually say “DON’T DO IT!”.

But for the church that is committed to devoting the entire project to prayer, I have 10 questions that need to be asked before you press record:

1. Purpose – What is the purpose/vision of the recording?

Personal v Congregational, Local v Global

2. Songs – Do I have enough songs to choose from?

A typical album of 10 songs should have atleast 30 to choose from. A lot has already been written about songwriting and by sharper minds. My biggest encouragement is to collaborate on the song writing and don’t settle until a ‘good’ song is a ‘great’ song

3. Budget – How much money do I plan to spend and where will it come from?

Funds can come from a number of sources includes savings, donations, loans, crowd funding

4. Location – Where will I record?

Live v Studio v Home. Each has pros and cons that need to be carefully considered

5. Producer – Who will produce?

This is one of the most important questions. Will the album be produced in house, or do we need to engage external producer ? In my experience, the latter is usually better and costs from $1-4k per song

6. Project Management – What program will I use and who will champion it to help manage the overall project plan?

“Fail to plan and you plan to fail”. For the latest CityAlight live recording, we used an online program called Google sheets. This helped us to outline each step and who was doing what and when

7. Team Members – Who will be involved?

Only engage people who have a similar vision to you. You will be spending a lot of time together and there is no room for egos. Another factor is deciding who are volunteers and who need to be hired

8. Copyright – Do I understand copyright and the payment of royalties?

Make sure you have song agreements for each song. Friends can become enemies very quickly when money is involved. Get advice from organisations such as CCLI and APRA/AMCOS

9. Distribution – Where will the album be sold?

Retail (eg. Koorong), Digital (eg. iTunes, Spotify) via distributors such as Tunecore and CD Baby

10. Promotion/Marketing – How will the album be promoted?

Word of mouth, print, online (social media, YouTube)


An album project can unite the team and equip the church. But even well intentioned projects have the potential to divide the team, split the church and leave you in debt with boxes of unusable drink coasters!!!


  • Research – Do as much research as you can. Learn from others by speaking to those you admire and taking advantage of online resources.

EG. Recording Worship – Where do I Start; Hillsong 2011 – Behind the Scenes

  • Prayer – Bathe every aspect of the project in prayer. Everything we do is for His glory and in His strength
  • Have fun – Enjoy the experience of ‘making music to the Lord’

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