Addendum to the ‘Open Letter’

Firstly, please understand that I am not directly speaking to my own record label. The problem as I understand it resides between labels as a whole and radio as a whole. I have never heard anything of this sort from my own label. Their main concern has always been how to get music in the hands (or ears) of listeners. Which I think is a pretty good goal, especially since it is my music, a lot of the time.

Second, we have already had some great comments which I wanted to pass along. We have heard about the evils of chasing after money, both true and biblical. We have been encouraged with “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). Which is good because we ARE sons of God. Which means that by being peacemakers, the world recognizes our Father in us. Awesome. And lastly, we were petitioned to pray for each other. I think that is incredible. To have record label people praying for the radio stations and vice versa. Not praying that the other will change their ways, but praying for their good. So thanks to everyone reading. And commenting.


An Open Letter to the Radio and Record Industry

Dear Record Labels and Radio Stations,

I have been a fan of your work for a long time, and more recently became involved with it on a deeper level. But I’m not writing today about me. Today I’m writing about you, and more importantly, your relationship with each other, or the lack thereof. Unfortunately, you will probably never read this. It will only be read by people who listen to you on a consistent

I am writing because I am concerned with what is turning into quite a chasm in your relationship. I only know what I’m told and I confess to not being an expert in this. But from what I understand, the record industry wants radio to pay more for using the songs. And the radio industry in turn, doesn’t want to pay anything for using songs, but actually wants to be paid for playing them. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a moment to look at each side and propose a solution. So if you don’t like what you’re hearing, don’t worry, I’ll get to the other side momentarily.

First, let’s start with radio. You either make money by selling commercials or raise money by getting listeners to support your station. This money is what pays your bills, salaries, etc. These listeners, both the listeners your advertisers desire and the listeners who support your station, are attracted to your station because of the music you play. Therefore, in a very simple equation, the music makes your money. If you would like to exclude the music, that’s great. Be a talk radio station. Then the listeners listen only for you, and all money paid or given is due to you. But if they listen for the music, then you are using that music to finance your own operation. And that’s a great idea. But Jesus said, in Luke 10, “The worker deserves his wages.” I know the economy is tough. In normal businesses, they have to find ways to make do. Sometimes there are layoffs. So I guess you could view this that way. You could lay all the artists off. Then you don’t have to pay them. But then you don’t get their work either.
It’s only fair. The state of the economy is not asking you to work for nothing. I realize that fewer listeners are involved each year. I understand that can be discouraging. I know you’re trying to find ways to make radio continue to be financially viable, but I don’t think you can not pay for the music you obviously use to your benefit.

Second, record labels… You make money selling records, or at least by selling songs. The average consumer knows about said song because most of the time, they heard it on the radio. From what I’ve been told, the radio stations’ case is that they deserve to get paid because they are advertising for your product. And while that is not completely the case, it does stumble across a truth. You do benefit from radio playing your song. So, until you figure out how to market your music successfully without radio, you still need this partnership. And I know (inside information follows) that you haven’t figured that out yet. I know you’re trying. I know a radio hit does not guarantee sales anymore. But at the moment, it is still your most common avenue to introduce music to the general public. So they have a case when they say they are doing things that benefit you.

My point is that you two need each other. You are both in the midst of a rough economy trying to make things work on your balance sheet. But the answer is not hurting the other. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. Otherwise, I would be out selling that answer and not writing this blog. What I do know is that for decades the two of you have worked together to
introduce thousands, maybe millions, of artists to the world. Music has saturated our culture. And it’s because you worked together. I don’t see why you’re trying to fix something that’s not broken. The current situation has worked. Let the radio stations pay a reasonable amount to use the music. The problem is that you can’t agree on what is reasonable. Well,
don’t try to make your year’s budget on this issue. It doesn’t need to greatly increase or decrease. Consider it a partership, like it always has been. If you need to make more money to balance your budget, then do it in other ways. Have a bake sale.

Now, for those of you who are in the mainstream media (right, like that’s going to happen, but just in case it does), that is the end of my letter to you. I am very grateful for all you have done over the years. You have made and shared so much music with me. And now you’re allowing me to make and share music myself. So, thanks. I hope you can work it out.

For those in the Christian media, I have one more thought. You are part of a kingdom. You are created and purposed for the glory of Christ. The king is in charge here. When a king has economic problems, does he set his knights against his farmers? His blacksmiths against his cooks? No. Why? Because he needs all of them. Remember the person you are fighting is a child of God. And more importantly that you are connecting pieces in a puzzle, a tapestry, if you will, that will express the glory of God to the world. If you can work together. And I think you can. Because friends are friends forever. Thanks for reading.


Supporting Ministry In Turkey And Getting A Cool T-shirt


One of my friends is a worship pastor at my church. His name is Andy Melvin and he has a killer band and a great ministry. In fact, you should check out his last CD, The Human Engine Waits. But that’s not what this post is about.

Andy and his guys are raising funds to go do some cool ministry in the country of Turkey. One of the ways they are doing that is selling this cool T-shirt. You only have till Monday to get your order in, so I wanted to let you know. Because I don’t want you to be all sad, coming out to the fall tour and seeing my shirt and saying, wow, that’s awesome, where can I get one of those? So you can go to this website, and there you will find the email address to send your order to. No, it’s not paypal or cc online purchasing. It’s just old school awesome t-shirt buying.

Anyway, it is a great chance to support a great ministry. You’ve got two days left.


The End Of The Rope

Due to an old Boyz II Men fascination, I wanted to call this the “End of the Road”, and although that fits, I thought End of the Rope was better. You know, that day, that moment, when you feel like you’re hanging on to the last bit of the rope you have with the last bit of strength you possess. And you have no idea what will happen when you can’t hold on any longer, but you’re terrified of it. I think most of us have been there. And I think some of you, like me, live there. I keep wondering, “God, when is the break coming?” There is always something else to do. Always another load to be carried. Another challenge to be attempted. Another trial to be endured. Being a husband doesn’t take a pause for refreshment. There’s no halftime to parenting. Careers don’t take into account what you have left to give. Bills don’t take months off, even if your career does. I understand that God is shaping me, but it seems like some rest might shape me, too.

So for some reason, I remembered this song today. I heard it playing at a DNow we led in Batesville, MS, this spring. I had to go ask the sound guy what it was. It’s called “Worth It All” by Rita Springer. Now I’m a cynical guy. And when I’m in the midst of a tough time, and someone says something like, “It’s going to be worth it,” I just look at them and say, “Really? Is that the best you could come up with? Please go find someone who falls for your cliches, maybe you can help them.” It’s like when you’re going through a break-up and people come up and say, “This just means God has someone even better out there for you.” That may be true (it was for me), but it doesn’t change how I feel right then. It just makes me want to punch them. And sometimes that makes me feel better. But I have to admit, there is something about this song. It’s a worship song that somehow takes those old words and wrings the truth out of them. Somehow it takes an overused phrase and reminds me that it really will be worth it.

We weren’t created for 80 years. We were created for eternity. So why do I always think that I will find the finish line here? Why do I think I will be fulfilled here? That’s what heaven is for. Can I believe that God intimately knows every struggle I have and purposes them for my good? Do I think He has forgotten me? Do I think He doesn’t care? Doesn’t notice? Because that’s not the God I know. But the God I know may let me fall so that I will learn to run. Imagine holding your child’s bike up straight as they were learning to ride. Or your friend’s bike, if you’re a kid. But now imagine that as they get older, you continue to hold their bike; you keep them upright. Always. They get so good that finally they enter the Tour de France. But there, due to rules and such, you are not allowed to help them. And while they have grown up and their legs are strong, they have no balance. So they crash 5 yards from the starting line and are the hit of YouTube for that week. The question is: Did your protection of them help them or hinder them? Was that really love? I think God really loves me and cheers me on, even when I fall.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

Right now, there are many days where I don’t think I have the strength to take one more step in this race. I’m going to have to lay down. To quit. And I don’t even know how to do that. But this summer I was reading Martin Luther and he said that when we study the Bible we have to understand the terms. We have to know what the author meant by that word, not what it means in our culture. For me, one of those words was “faith”. I’ve read the beginning of Hebrews for years, and I always read the word “faith” as religion. The Christian faith. Jesus is the author and perfecter of the Christian faith, Christianity. But that’s not what the writer of Hebrews meant. He meant “faith”, like trust, dependence. I’ve been trying to learn dependence. To do a better job of leaning on Jesus. But I’m still the one doing it. This verse clearly says that the start and the finish of my dependence is Jesus. Not me. Even when I’m trying to hold on to the end of the rope, the start and the end of my holding on is Jesus. Jesus is the author of faith; He created it, He made it up, He started it. And He’s not just the author of faith in general, He is the author of MY faith. And He is the perfecter of my faith. It was never up to me to perfect my holding on, it was up to Him. (Trying to avoid a “Still Has A Hold” reference here.)

So when you get to the end of the rope, remember that the One who is holding on to you made the rope. He knows how strong and weak you are. And He has a reward for you beyond anything you can imagine. And with no cliche, it will be worth it all.


Radio Tour: The Middle

Well, we made it through the first week. Mark Giles of Hit Radio Promo has been with me all week and that has been a great new friendship to build. He is a true servant. It has been an honor to partner with him this week. The rest of the week has not been as easy. Well, actually the visits themselves have been great. I finally visited KLOVE. I know, I know. They have been such a huge part of our ministry but I had never been to Sacramento. But I got to hang with Lisa and Eric on Monday morning and that was great. I played a few songs live, debuting the new single, Joy Unspeakable, and one other song from the new record, Did You Mean Me.  Getting to Sacramento was not as easy. I left after church on Sunday, made it to Phoenix fine, and then got stuck for many hours. I should probably apologize for the Twitter onslaught that occurred while I was in the airport. Some were funny, some not. But it helped pass the time. But I finally got to CA and had a great visit. Tuesday we started in Tulsa at KXOJ. Again, they have been a huge support for us and actually added the new song the first day it was out. So that was awesome. I always love hanging out with Craig. And Heather is awesome too. Then we rushed to the plane to head to Florida. We did the Tampa scene on Spirit FM with Jamie that afternoon and I totally botched one of the new songs. Live. On air. You must be so proud. Then we actually got to go to dinner with some of the Spirit crew so that was great. Then it was off to Orlando. We started Wednesday at Z88.3 in Orlando on air with Tyler and Ellis. Played Grace and Joy live. Then I got to spend some time with the staff and played a few songs including I Need No Other from NEED. I don’t know why we’re always capitalizing NEED but we are, so I guess it has become part of the brand. Then it was back to Sarasota to see the folks at The Joy FM. They were awesome. We were doing lunch and they had suggested ordering Greek salad instead of pizza. I had my doubts but it was wonderful. I got to hang out with their whole staff and shared a bit about getting married and the story behind Joy Unspeakable, which I don’t have to tell you because you probably saw the video already. Then I did some on air stuff with Bill. We did miss Carmen and Dave, but we’ll catch them next time. Then we headed to the airport to head to NYC and here’s where it started to get sketchy. We had all kind of delays, but I chose to grant grace to my Twitter followers and not abuse them again. So we finally got in to our hotel in NJ at about 2:30, I think. We landed just hoping that the car rental place would still be open. It was. We made it to the morning show with my friend Johnny Stone on Star 99.1. I was dragging but glad to be there. It was a good morning and then we headed downtown to Beliefnet. We left that interview with the sole purpose of getting a slice of real NY pizza. We achieved our goal. It was awesome. Then we headed to the airport with no idea what lay in store. We arrived, hoping to bump up to an earlier flight to catch up on some rest. The girl’s response was “I was hoping you were going to say, ‘I’d like to go tomorrow, and get two free passes.'” We told her that wasn’t an option for us. Apparently due to the weather that almost kept us out of NY the night before, they had cancelled about half their flights and all those people were trying to get on our flights. Anyway, we had seats and it was only delayed half an hour. So we get inside and settle in to the airport hang. Charged the laptop. Read some. Listened to some book on tape (well, book on playlist) and sermons. Listened to two of my favorite new records, Derek Webb’s Stockholm Syndrome and Nathan Lee’s West Tisbury. Then I walked up to check on the flight and it had been delayed another hour. Now we would land pretty much at the exact time we were supposed to take off on our connecting flight to Minneapolis. So we waited. At the appointed time, we went to our gate. And waited. Right as we were supposed to be taking off and there still wasn’t a person at the gate, we started to wonder. Then the screen changed to say departure time was pushed back another two hours and 15 minutes. Now we definitely miss the flight. As we were standing there, I thought I noticed that the flight number was wrong. Just by one number, like it used to say 267 and now it said 237 or something like that. I pondered. Then I walked to the main screen again and sure enough our flight had moved to another gate. I run down there, digging my phone out of my pocket. I make it just in time, hand them my boarding pass and call Mark to tell him. I get to my seat. When he finally gets on, he says they had already shut the door, but let him on. We were grateful for that. So we fly to Milwaukee. When we land, I can see the other gate like 20 yards to our right. So I run over there and somehow we make the connection. So we make it to Minneapolis. We were staying right near the airport so we went in and crashed. We got to sleep a little later the next day and then went to visit KTIS. They were incredible. I don’t know how I had missed visiting them before, but they are awesome people and really do radio well. I hope they play good music. I didn’t really get to check that out. But they’re wonderful people. I really enjoyed the visit with Dave and Pam, and then getting to hang out with their whole staff. We talked about foundations from 1 Corinthians 3. Then we had lunch. They ordered pizza from this amazing place. I wish I could think of the name of it, so I could give props where they are do. But it was awesome. And I really appreciate Chaz showing me around the place; it’s really amazing. So now it’s finally time to go home. I check to see if I can catch an earlier flight but I can’t. So surprise, surprise, I’m in the airport again. I wait for my flight to Dallas. It went fine. So now I’m literally 4 hours from my house, driving time. But I just have one more flight to catch and I’ll be home. I run to TGI Friday’s there in the airport for a Santa Fe salad, quite good. Then I notice it’s getting really close to boarding time so I run down to my gate. I get there and it’s empty, always a bad sign. I find out it’s been moved 10 gates down, so I run down there to find everyone sitting down, again a bad sign. It’s been delayed an hour. Then it was delayed another hour. So our flight finally takes off at 1AM! One! It’s already the next day. But we make it. And get to Austin at 2. I grab my luggage and am glad the airport shuttle is still running to long term parking. Sam had flown to Memphis and left me a message about where he left the keys. However, apparently Sam gets driver side and passenger side mixed up. So I spend another 15-20 minutes looking for the keys. I finally get to my house at 5 minutes till 3am. Glad to be home. And now we’re doing it again this week. We’ll start here in Austin, Wednesday morning on the River. See you then.


The Big Radio Tour

Well, we’re off. Doing the second official Todd Agnew radio tour. The only other time I’ve done this was for My Jesus. Apparently most artists take time out each record, if not for each song, to travel around and talk to radio stations. I guess bringing doughnuts is a commonly held theory on how to get a station to play your song. I don’t know if we’ll be doing that or not. So anyway, the label asked me if I would do it, since I’d been off the radio radar for a while. My summer camp schedule had already wrapped up, so I said Yes. A little work can’t hurt me. Traveling around and talking about myself is not a favorite hobby, but as they taught at my church a couple of months ago, all conversations can be turned to Christ. So we’ll see how it goes.

We started this morning with KLOVE. Oddly enough, I had never been to KLOVE so it was good to get out there. I hung out with Lisa Williams and Eric Allen this morning, and I think a good time was had by all. I played Grace, My Jesus, Joy Unspeakable (the new single, and the reason for all this fiasco), and our conversation led us down some paths that ended with debuting Did You Mean Me off the new record as well.

Right now, we’re on a plane heading to Tulsa where we will start at KXOJ tomorrow morning. They have been a huge support to us over the years so it will be good to hang with them. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll be in Tampa, FL. I’ll be on WBVM at 5pm if that’s home for you. Wednesday will start in Orlando with Z88 at 8am. Then we’ll head to Sarasota.

Thursday morning we’ll be hanging with my friends Johnny and Stacey at Star 99 in NYC. Oh wait, Stacey’s going to a wedding, so I will be hanging with my friend Johnny at Star 99 in NYC. I think it’s 7-9am. Two more interviews in NYC then off to Minneapolis. We’ll finish there on Friday and go home for the weekend. I have no idea what we’re doing next week.

But this week is full and hopefully we’ll cross some of your paths, hit some of your home radio stations.