Sweetwater Music Caters to the Christian Musician and the House of Worship Community!

IAbbie Stancato of Rockin' God's House want to immediately establish a fact. This is not a paid advertisement. I chose to interview Sweetwater. Why, because of all the companies I use for music equipment, Sweetwater is the only one who offers a catalog exclusively for the Christian worship scene. However, the content of the catalog is much more than just equipment. I spoke to Senior Vice-President of Marketing, Mike Ross. Mike was a Sweetwater customer prior to becoming part of the organization. In addition to his twenty-eight years of marketing experience, Mike is a songwriter, music minister, and worship leader.

He’s been involved with worship and praise teams since the mid-90s. Several years ago Sweetwater launched the Worship Sound Pro gear catalog. Mike says, “There are approximately 300,000 churches in the United States, and a good percentage of them are embracing the new music movement—those amplifying their praise services with modern instrumentation. I realized the majority of worship leaders and volunteer technology people were suffering from a lack of real information that was specific to what they really do. I felt like we needed to reach out and provide information, products, and guidance to that particular group of customers.”

“Worship has changed. The equipment I use for my church on Sunday is the same equipment I would use for a rock concert. The Worship Sound Pro catalog is based around a simple concept: is the product useful and applicable in the modern house of worship… If so, I’m going to narrow it down. So one thing I didn’t want was to post twenty-five microphones and describe it as ‘Here’s our offering of dynamic microphones for the stage.’ There are technical specs which are difficult for those who lack a core understanding of audio, and I wanted to make the decision of which one to buy a little easier. So instead we provide a good, better, and best format to help you get to the correct solution for your needs. The format takes some of the overwhelming decision making off the table. And Sweetwater has extraordinarily well trained Sales Engineers just a phone call away if you need more choices or help to talk you through your needs.”

“Another key difference that separates this catalog from others is that I have manufacturers who want to partner with me for the worship catalog. What I require of them is that they don’t just run pages and talk about their product. I require them to write educational information for the end user. One example is Shure Wireless (they offer blogs exclusively for Christian artists). The Shure Wireless staff will write a much more extensive ‘Everyman’s Version’ of how to understand wireless usage in a sanctuary or house of worship. As a result, that product page does much more than just point you to the products they sell; it helps you to understand and explain it. So you’ll find lots of partner pages in our catalog where it’s not just about the product, but the thinking behind it—the how to and the why. That’s a big deal.”

“Also, in every issue we offer between five and ten what I call ‘101 type’ articles to help worship teams. We offer them on mixing, wireless, electronic drums, etc… I get more requests from churches to reprint those ‘101 guides’ than anything else we publish!”

“The Worship Sound Pro catalog does so much more than just put gear in front of you; it embraces the things you are dealing with as a worship leader and a church.”

Do you educate your customer service and technical department on the needs and requirements of churches and worship teams?

 “Sweetwater’s Sales Engineers are trained on all the products we sell and represent. In fact, everyone we hire comes to Sweetwater with a solid hands-on understanding of audio technology and music. But regardless of how much they know coming in, they spend the first thirteen weeks of their career at Sweetwater attending, and eventually graduating from, Sweetwater University. It’s intense, but it’s what it takes to really know gear and help a customer. Then, twice a week, about fifty weeks a year, Sales Engineers attend 1½ hours of additional training. Several of our sales engineers choose to be specialists in the house of worship world. It’s what they love, and what they do in their spare time.”

Mike Ross has his own Christian website www.afterSunday.com. After Sunday is both a band and a brand to encourage your Christian walk for the other six days of the week. Finally, check out www.sweetwater.com/worship; there you’ll find not just the catalog online, but an independent website dedicated specifically to the needs and concerns of where you worship!