Are Songs That Have Already Been Recorded “Damaged Goods?” No—and Here’s Why

I grew up during what many would consider one of the “heydays” of Southern Gospel music. Quartet music was quite popular still, but newer sounds like Jeff and Sheri Easter were coming on the scene at the same time. 

The Cathedrals were growing older and phasing out, meanwhile Ernie Haase’s Signature Sound was rising the ranks, having created a name and brand of his own. 

One hallmark of this era was the opportunity to hear a little different take on a song by different artists. 

For example, although Ernie was known for his performance of “Oh, What a Savior!” with the Cathedrals, it was not at all strange for his group to perform their version. 

In fact, it was a hit! 

Some of the most popular songs today—regardless of the genre—became popular because of how many artists recorded them, not in spite of that. 

And yet, in today’s music scene, an altogether different sentiment seems to have arisen.

Sitting in a panel discussion with label heads, songwriters, and publishers, we heard “from the horse’s mouth” that artists don’t see it this way anymore. 

Once a song has been commercially released and radio singled by an artist, it is considered “damaged goods” and not worthy of releasing at all—even on a record. 

This mindset has far-reaching negative consequences. It treats the song as though as it is “one time use,” despite the fact that—in reality—songs live on in hearts and minds for decades. 

Sometimes, forever!

Here are a couple problems with thinking of commercially released songs as damaged goods, and a strong opportunity if we’ll change our thinking. 

“Churning and Burning” Reduces the Quality of the Music 

Music business. 

Two words that I never really thought of as working in harmony, but also never thought of as explicitly contradictory. 

I don’t think I ever saw the music industry through rose-colored glasses. 

But, may I be honest? 

I didn’t personally realize how broken it was until after we started

Now—don’t mistake me for hopeless. 

Actually, quite the opposite. We found problems—but fixable problems. We’re as optimistic as ever that the music industry has a bright future.

But we also know it will take some work to get there. 

Here’s a good start: Let’s focus on raising the quality of the music itself. 

One of the things we discovered is that songs are being “churned and burned” like some sort of factory. 


Because companies need to make money. Nothing wrong with that. However, it often leads to creating music that is redundant and lacks creativity because “it’s what the people want to hear.” 

Sure, there’s both an art and a science to creating great music that resonates with your target audience. 

But creating music for the sake of tickling ears instead of changing hearts is a losing game. Such is the fruit of a “churn and burn” mindset. 

Songs don’t get better by creating music people allegedly want to hear and then moving on to the next one as quickly as possible. 

Songs get better by hearing them performed creatively and often. 

One of my favorite songs is Dive by Steven Curtis Chapman. When Steven and Ricky Skaggs did a mashup on it, I was not in any way offended to hear that application of a classic Contemporary Christian song. 

You kidding?! I was like a kid in a candy store! I get to hear one of my favorite CCM songs performed by one of my favorite Bluegrass artists? Too cool! 

This will become a thing of the past unless we change our tune.

Songs are not Being Given the Opportunity to Live a Long, Fruitful Life 

Andrew Fletcher said, “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”

Songs are transformational. And when we treat them as anything less, they fire back with the vengeance of obscurity. 

At, we’re just silly enough to believe that a song is something special (more on that specifically in a bit). 

Songs deserve to live a long life, not whither away and die in last place on a top 20 countdown or—worse—in virtual obscurity as the 6th song on an album nobody is listening to. 

But is this wishful thinking? Have the people spoken, and this is just how it is? 

I don’t think so. Now, that’s certainly the case with some things. For example, people just don’t listen to CDs anymore. They shuffle their music on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. 

They want to discover new stuff. Occasionally they’ll fall in love with an artist and listen to song #6 on the new album, but that is—admittedly—quite rare. 

However, let’s zoom out and look at the wider commercial music industry. Mashups and new recordings are quite common. 

When I think of Stevie Wonder’s classic, Higher Ground, I sometimes forget it was his song and hear The Red Hot Chili Peppers in my mind. 

That song was revitalized for an entirely new generation. And this same mindset used to be the normal thinking in Southern Gospel and Bluegrass, the primary audiences we serve. 

Let’s make the song great again. 

Let’s not treat each song as a potential lure to make a few bucks with a radio stint, and instead, write, perform, record, and rerecord with the intent of making the song live long and prosper.🖖🏻

Let’s stop sacrificing great on the altar of more

The Opportunity Switch: Treat a Song as Sacred, and it Will be a Lifelong Asset

That’s the funny thing about the music business. 

For all of the people involved, all the marketing that goes into pushing new artists, all of the talent discovery and management, at the end of the day—it all comes back to the song

No song, no music. 

Full stop. 

I’m afraid the industry has turned its back on the music. For one thing, it’s disrespecting the song itself by trying to squeeze every penny possible out of it and paying everyone off of that line item. 

Artists are mad because Spotify doesn’t pay like CDs did. That’s the reality, and despite the legislation that has been put in place (and that which is still being fought for), I don’t see that equation changing in a meaningful enough way to make a difference. 

The economics just aren’t there. 

What that means is that, in the music industry, new revenue streams are needed. The good news? They’re available.

You just have to know where to find them. (We’ll save that for another blog.) 

So… who, then, should be paid for the song

Our opinion—the people who wrote it!

This allows two incredible things to happen: 

  1. It gives songwriters the hope of a way to recoup their investment of time and money spent creating the song. 
  2. And it gives artists the opportunity to maximize the brand of the song for the longterm. 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers did pretty well off of Higher Ground—but so did Stevie Wonder.

In the long term, when you treat the song as something sacred, it pays off—for everyone! 

If we start creating music that matters again and treat it with the care and respect it deserves, it will faithfully reward our efforts for the long term. 

A song is not “damaged goods” because it’s already been released. 

It’s simply doing its job building equity, until the next artist comes along blessed with the interpretive creativity to steward its message in the public eye.

There’s a disconnect between the way songwriters and performers create music. We’ve spent our entire lives in the music industry and have seen firsthand how difficult it is to pitch that song you’re so proud of AND we’ve seen how hard it can be to find great songs for that upcoming project. So, was created to help change the way we write, create, and record music together forever.

It all starts with a great demo. Once we record your radio-ready demo, we’ll have a conversation with you about the next steps to achieve your goals as a songwriter.

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