The Incubator Mission Statement

Like the big stuffy corporations, we too have an official Mission Statement. But it goes beyond an exercise in formality. It is, after all, pretty hard to be too formal and stuffy when you have chickens running all over your website!. We work pretty hard at living out our mission. We won’t bore you with a bunch of management–ese, but we will try to give you a practical understanding of who we are, what we do, and why we do it. You can get as deep into this explanation as you want. Just read the few sentences below to get the general idea. Or, keep reading through this section to get an amplification of the intent behind each of the words and phrases highlighted below. In any case, be sure you’re having fun!

EggNoteIncubator is a relationship-based transformation experience for the emerging Christian artist. Through an innovative grouping of music industry vehicles, it facilitates a nurturing environment for the launch and expansion of an interdependent music ministry. The nearly three-decade success of Incubator is founded upon the promotion of personhood over product, and work ethic over stardom. The strategic design of the company is to produce stable and sustainable music ministries that function in the specialized marketplace of local churches throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Relationship-based

Incubator is committed to the biblical principle of building relationships over simply rendering commerce. We see the kingdom of God as being fundamentally about people. It is in the context of relationship that all meaningful change and transformation occurs. Our approach to helping an artist find their ministry focus and release it is rooted in the context of a trusting and accountable relationship. We further this principle by requiring our roster to apply themselves to the hard work of relationships in family, church, and community as well. Honoring the principle of relationships is embedded throughout the structure and philosophy of Incubator, from the beginnings of our Application Process to the very fabric of our artist’s operational ministry systems and fan and audience maintenance. (back up to Mission Statement)

Transformation Experience

The repeated ravings of graduates of Incubator are about how they have changed as a result of the Incubator experience. Although the company has many parts and aspects, they all work together to create an environment not just for positive change, but also for true transformation. Other companies offer promotional and professional services that can bring about some good changes for the emerging artist. Incubator goes further. We are interested in more than just change. We want to see transformation. Transformation requires four things:

  1. A safe and trusting environment that is relationship-based and encourages openness, a broadening of vision and an insight. Many artists have a hard time finding this kind of encouraging environment in the limitations of their hometown, family, and circles of influence.
  2. A commitment to growing in truth, knowledge, and wisdom in spiritual, emotional, musical and business arenas. All the great information and resources in the world are of no use without a learner’s heart. And meaningful growth must extend beyond mere business learning to the spiritual and emotional levels that govern business growth.
  3. The work of God and the Holy Spirit. Sorry, we can’t crank this one out ourselves! But we are always amazed to see His handiwork in the context of an environment that welcomes it.
  4. Time. True to the metaphor of the incubator, things don’t happen overnight. But with the items 1,2, and 3 above and adequate time, meaningful transformation occurs at both a deep level and in outward expressions that show themselves through a growing and vibrant music ministry.

Fundamentally we are changed as people through the relationships we maintain. Incubator wants more than to just ‘polish up’ aspects of an existing ministry. We want to ignite the creative process internally (on multiple levels) and help shape the resulting expressions of that deep process. When you change at a core level, your music, speech, and business acumen changes. And this level of transformation – when you invite God into the process of changing you continually – is the foundation Incubator seeks. This is what we consider ‘hatching good stuff’.  (back up to Mission Statement)

The Emerging Christian Artist

Incubator is specifically designed for what we identify as the early stage music ministry, or what we often refer to as the emerging Christian artist. The strata of artist’s activity out there ranges from those who have little more than an idea for a ministry through those who are struggling to make a traveling music ministry their full-time career. The motivations of that varied strata range from those who find themselves drawn to the local church marketplace through those desiring validation and entrance into the highly visible commercial music industry. We define the emerging artist as those from the beginning phases of that search and development process through those who are established in a sustainable full-time ministry. An emerging artist’s primary needs are to clearly identify their mission and prove the viability of a market for that mission… then to complete the mechanism for sustainability. Those seeking entrance into the highly visible music industry channels are quickly redirected out of our audition process. Incubator works exclusively with obscure artists who are initially content to remain obscure as they seek to identify and prove out their marketplace. The emerging artist is aware of the need to first identify their mission, prove (through actual business results) the demand (or market) for that mission, and develop a business mechanism to create and sustain that mission. (back up to Mission Statement)

An Innovative Grouping of Music Industry Vehicles

Incubator facilitates its nurturing environment with a number of vehicles to assist its artists. Those vehicles include an artist management company, artist development division, booking support, songwriting division, media production facilities, music publishing, and ministry (record) labels. Each of these vehicles is designed and applied to the unique needs of the emerging artist (as opposed to the more traditional application of the vehicles in the music industry). Incubator is not afraid to redefine how a vehicle is used. We very often reinterpret the application of these vehicles in a way to provide the practical and absolutely unique solutions required of the emerging artist. Incubator’s unconventional redefining of vehicles can lead to misunderstandings from more traditional approaches to the music industry. But, Incubator is more concerned with designing and operating vehicles that actually meet practical needs for its artists than satisfying the conventional expectations of the music industry. In others words, we're very different... and we like it that way! (back up to Mission Statement)

Nurturing Environment

In order to facilitate transformation (see above), maintaining a safe and nurturing environment is a foundational piece of the Incubator. Although a number of vehicles are maintained to produce specific results, the beauty of the Incubator is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The innovative ways in which the vehicles are applied, the relationship-based approach, and proven philosophy and systems of operation create a one-of-a-kind environment that is independent of geographical location. Incubator operates a successful ‘virtual’ incubator that is able to separate the locations of client and company. Roster artist work from their hometown (via the Internet, phone, and mail) through a number of proprietary virtually designed systems of interaction. The result of this structure is place of safety on spiritual, emotional, creative, and business levels. This sense of safety and nurturing encourages the broadening of vision and insight and provides a stimulating environment for growth.  (back up to Mission Statement)

Launch and Expansion

Deep ministry flows not from what you do but from who you are. As an artist grows, the expression of their ministry, the initial release, and the expansion of their marketplace should be natural consequences. The logical result of an ‘incubating environment’ is the release and expression of the ministry visions harbored in it. Incubator is uniquely postured to provide the necessary support that a young music enterprise needs at both the birth stages and early expansion stages. Incubator is focused on the early stage nurturing and doesn’t dilute its effectiveness by trying to also provide support for fully established ministries. We have a special purpose and we are fiercely dedicated to that purpose. Once an artist has developed a stable and sustainable ministry they are released to pursue their ministries independently or in conjunction with affiliate companies as appropriate. (back up to Mission Statement)

Interdependent Music Ministry

Emerging artists are faced with the frustration of two difficult options for pursuing a music ministry. The first is trying to gain acceptance into the highly visible Christian music industry that is highly competitive and often evolves into a very dependent based approach to music ministry. On the other hand, is the ‘indie’ route, which puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the artist who is often overwhelmed with the complexity and demands of trying to understand and keep on top of everything to make a solely independent career work. Incubator’s approach is one of interdependence. A high emphasis is placed on the artist’s responsibility for independence, but with a healthy dose of professional support. Incubator artists find themselves in business ‘for themselves’, but not ‘by themselves’. The sensibility of the Incubator approach is reflected in an artist’s self-knowledge of their vital need for outside objectivity, professional connectivity, and practical accountability. (back up to Mission Statement)

The Nearly Three-Decade Success of Incubator

For the last25+ years, the field of artist development in Christian music has been littered with countless enterprises that have come and gone. Incubator stands out as a leader with staying power. Incubator is the Christian music industry's only incubator organization. The only company to operate exclusively with multi-year contracts with emerging artists, Incubator has faced and embraced the challenges of working with start up music ministries. In a field where it’s easiest to sell a package of ‘services’ to aspiring artists, Incubator has chosen to provide a relationship-based agreement that is based upon a commission percentage of gross revenues ( Incubator 4.0 artists are typically showing a positive cash flow within 6 months of signing with the company). Incubator’s Application Process is grueling and admittedly highly selective, helping to screen the candidates most likely to benefit from its specialized approach. Thousands of artists have benefited from Incubator’s brutal but caring honesty, and have been aided in finding their place in serving Christ with their musical talents. (back up to Mission Statement)

Personhood Over Product

A fundamental value and operational foundation for Incubator is the emphasis of personhood over product. The music industry operates with a product orientation -- manufacturing, marketing, distributing and merchandising the musical ‘products’ an artist makes (songs, downloads, albums, etc). Incubator operates with the primary focus on the development of the person. Company systems and approaches are designed to identify the unique mission and personality of an artist and connect that with an audience. Product expressions will be a natural outflow of a well-developed artist. Therefore, the unique focus and energies of Incubator are dedicated to creating an environment where the person can grow, the artist can flourish, and an audience can be identified and developed to support that ministry. Then the production of products that support that marketplace can be accurately projected and facilitated. All of Incubator’s support vehicles are strategically designed to integrate together to create an environment that nurtures the development of the individual. (back up to Mission Statement)

Work Ethic Over Stardom

Incubator is more concerned about an artist’s work ethic than the degree of fame and acclaim. Incubator artists are okay with being ‘unknowns’ and are more concerned about deeply connecting with their audiences, even if that means remaining obscure to the larger music ‘industry’. So much of the industry is a talent/marketing driven machine that is very much a gamble on many fronts. We prefer the security of predictable outcomes that result from hard work, focused energies, and wise ministry planning. In the industry, the more visible and ‘promoted’ you are, the more you sell. With Incubator, the harder you work, the better your results. It is not based on chance. It’s based on hard work. (back up to Mission Statement)

The Strategic Design of the Company

Incubator is a very intentional and strategic company. Twenty-five-plus years in the trenches has made us that way. From the interlocking elements of our company philosophy to the intention and design put into how each piece of our development work transitions to the next, the Incubator experience is a building of ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’. This refined set of strategies cannot eliminate the chaos and hard work of releasing and expanding a music ministry but it does bring a ‘method’ to the madness! (back up to Mission Statement)

EggStable and Sustainable

Incubator’s systems have been developed from over 100 years of combined management experience in both artist development and local church leadership. This base of experience and the resulting guiding philosophy are postured to produce music ministries that are stable and sustainable. Because of the unique psychology of the local church marketplace, building a stable and consistent traveling music ministry requires strategic planning. Building on solid relationship techniques creates an activity schedule that is predictable. And Incubator is adamant about building a ministry that is sustainable over many years, with a diminishing requirement of time to maintain. It’s easy to create a blitz of activity once or twice. But creating a long lasting ministry that continues to produce concert activity, financial stability, and a growing fan base takes an informed, intelligent and intentional approach to the building process. Many of Incubator’s systems (from ministry funding to booking) build on the concept of annuity that provides for a continuing and consistent level of results from a diminishing level of labor to maintain. (back up to Mission Statement)

quoteMusic Ministries

Although not mutually exclusive, the concepts of entertainment and ministry have caused no small amount of confusion for the emerging artist. Incubator’s approach creatively blends the two. Incubator artists are first focused on having a clearly articulated ministry purpose rooted in the scriptural traditions of relationship ministry. This is a ministry purpose that is, at its core, about reaching to the deep spiritual heart of the audience and seeking to affect a change at that level, not just the level of entertainment. This purpose is then expressed through songs, stage presentation, and audience connection activities that successfully extend the mission to the audience. Where the standard model for artist stage performance in Christian music is modeled on the mainstream paradigm, Incubator’s model is rooted in its unique “living room” paradigm that is proven and effective in the local church marketplace. It’s not about ignoring good performance technique, but using it for a higher purpose than entertainment alone. (back up to Mission Statement)

Specialized Marketplace of Local Churches

One of the most fundamental hallmarks to shape the unique position Incubator holds in the music industry is the absolute commitment to the legitimacy and priority of the ministry of the local church. Local churches around the world are the fundamental expression of God’s work in the earth. As flawed as local expressions of Christ’s church may be, they still are the primary institution God has chosen to work through on the earth. (Even the institution of family is designed to function best in the context of local expressions of Christ’s body.) Incubator places a huge focus on honoring this principle and shaping music ministries around the unique dynamics of the local church. Since most of the l performance opportunities available to the interdependent music ministry are connected to local churches (or some expression or outflow of the same), this results in the forming of a ‘marketplace’ for the purposes of understanding the business expansion of a music ministry. Therefore, understanding the unique psychology and peculiarities of the local church marketplace is crucial to the business success of a music ministry. Adding to this complexity is the reality that this marketplace is made up of countless denominational ‘subcultures’ and sensitivity and awareness can make the difference between informed success and blind failure. Some mistakenly label Incubator’s focus to the local church as ‘preaching to the choir’. Incubator sees the local church marketplace as a ready field for honest and transparent ministry that motivates church members to become an active force in their own personal world and communities, thereby fulfilling the scriptural model of 'perfecting the saints for the work of the ministry'. (back up to Mission Statement)