Artist to watch: John Tibbs


We asked you who you wanted us to spotlight as our next “Artist to Watch,” and @brandonschmidt nominated independent folk-rock worship artist John Tibbs. We were able to chat with him a bit about the music industry, his sophomore release, and touring with Audrey Assad.

You’re doing something that a lot of worship artists are doing today—leading worship in a local church setting while also writing, touring, and recording. How are those two different?

I am actually no longer leading at a local church full-time. In April, I exited the church and began to write and travel full-time. It was something I was so certain and very anxious about. Six months later, I am so glad I did it. To answer your question though, they are very different. I am sure every situation is different, but my situation caused me to stand in two different hemispheres filled with different vision and dreams. It was doable, but it was exhausting. I had to choose one or the other. Again, this was unique to my particular situation.

Do you see leading worship and artistic performance as competing with one another or complementing each other?

I’ve seen some people who can put on a great show, but are horrible at leading worship, and vice versa. I’ve also seen people do really well in both venues. I do believe there is a common thread. Worship is supposed to be communal—a group of people experiencing God, honoring God, crying to God. To do that well, it takes a very gifted person to be real with themselves, the church, and God all while engaging all three. I believe the same is true with a great show. Good entertainment, to me, is a good experience. People want to be a part of something larger. They want to bleed and sweat good art. I am always cautious about combining the arenas, but I do believe that they can coincide in the right setting.

You released your last album for free on NoiseTrade. Could you talk a bit about the decision to do that?

I love NoiseTrade and the people making it happen. It’s a killer opportunity for an artist. There were two things that went into me choosing NoiseTrade. The first one was pretty simple. I believe in the songs. I believe that if the right person would give it enough attention, they could get what I was talking about—it’s a journey of hope. And I think we all need hope. NoiseTrade set it up in a clean, easy-to-work system to allow all people to have access to it. It was really important to me that anyone with a computer can have free access to my music. The second thing, again, is that I believe in these songs. I had almost 50,000 people connected to me on Twitter and Facebook, but had zero emails. I knew as I transitioned to touring full-time that shows would be my breadwinner and the best way to get people to shows is emails. And as a bonus, I now sit at 100,000 follows and likes on Twitter and Facebook. It has given a major boost to my “career”—one that I am very thankful for. I am so honored and glad so many people have resonated with the melodies. Coming up on one year, it’s looking like we will hit the 15,000-download mark. I am very grateful to NoiseTrade and the opportunity they are providing for artists like me.

Kickstarter has been good to you. Do you see that platform as long-term solution or a springboard to a more traditional record deal? 

Yes, I raised $16,000 for an EP back in June. Good question—one that I honestly don’t have an answer for right now. I do know this . . . both Kickstarter and a record deal have their ups and downs. To me, it will come down to my particular situation and what outweighs the other.

Your new EP, Anchor, is due out very soon. Could you give us a sneak peek? What’s it going to sound like?

Yeah, Anchor hits the digital universe on September 17. I can’t wait for you to hear it. This is how I’ve been explaining it . . . take my last project and lay on some heavy drums and guitars. It’s what I like to call “rock and folk.”

You just released the single, “Run Wild (In My Soul).” That’s an unusual prayer. Could you talk a bit about where that came from?  

This song was written as I was leaving the world of a “guaranteed” salary and benefits for the world of independent artist. The song is about having a courage and a boldness. In all honesty, I was terrified at the prospect of making music full-time and providing for my wife, but we both knew it was what I had to do. It was so clear to us. It was like standing on the edge of a cliff and jumping into a lake. You know you have to do it, but it takes some guts. I needed some guts, or in this case, some Jesus. The song has a real chaotic passion feel to it. It came out of a very personal place in my heart. I hope you like it.


You’re touring the Southeast this fall with Audrey Assad. What can concert-goers expect from those shows?

We are actually touring from LA to New Jersey. Some more dates in the North and Midwest will be posted shortly (hopefully). But Audrey is such a sweet girl. She has a very genuine spirit to back up with great songwriting and a killer voice. I’m so thankful to be joining her and the crew for a few months. I’ll be playing a 40-minute set of originals, I’m really really excited to play these new songs coming up on Anchor. If you’re in the area, come on out. You really won’t want to miss it. Then I will be joining Audrey on electric and vocals. She’s essentially playing through her new record (which is beautiful by the way). It’s a prayer. I’m excited for the night. I got to spend a few days with her last week. We recorded and filmed a live record and video. It’s going to be a special night.

Visit to see the full list of tour dates, and reserve your copy of the Anchor EP.

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