Archive for May 2nd, 2008

This is a bit of different topic than we usually talk about here, but I found this article by Charlie Peacock in CCM quite insightful about the current and future state of the Christian music industry.  Charlie Peacock is one of the Christian artists who doesn’t get enough recognition in my opinion, but his overall influence on the industry is hard to overstate.   He has worked with a diverse bunch of musicians including Al Green, CeCe Winans, and Switchfoot to name a few.  So, as the saying goes, when he talks, we should listen.

There are a lot of good quotes in the article, but here’s a few I really find hard-hitting:

The music business, Christian and otherwise, has been a wealth-creation mechanism for a small, elite group of executives, songwriters, producers and artists. Those days are over. Still, the old guard won’t go peaceably. They’ll fight for control to the end. When they finally exit, the new music business will be underway.

Christian music as a genre has always been a music you move on from. Young Christian baby-boomers and Gen-X once in love with the music abandoned it in adulthood and have not returned. As a result, legacy artist catalogs (ranging from Larry Norman to Amy Grant to dcTalk and beyond) do not and will not have the staying power of their mainstream counterparts such as The Beatles, The Eagles, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Celine Dion, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and U2. All these artists, and a hundred others, remain popular and economically viable today. Sadly, the pattern does not hold true for what was contemporary Christian music.

I can especially speak for the validity of the second paragraph.  I think I had close to 300 albums when I left for college, and the vast majority of them were “Christian”.  I look back on some of those groups like Audio Adrenaline, dc Talk, and the Newsboys with fond memories, but honestly I find a lot of it written for the 12-18 year-old demographic.

Working with college students, I find that many of them do not have the same type of devotion to Christian bands that students had even less than 10 years ago.  They have access to practically any song from an artist in any genre at any moment.  They no longer have to go to the shady record stores to get their music.  The ones that into more mainstream music no longer listen to the church-lady warnings about personal holiness.  I’m not saying whether this is good or bad, I’m stating what I see.  I think that in the future is going to get harder and harder for Christian publishing companies to survive.  Like Peacock says, the mainstream CCM industry will probably get distilled down to one big company.

Anyway, I found the article interesting, and I hope to hear people’s thoughts.  I think parallels can be drawn between the CCM industry and the church as a whole.  People are less willing to invest themselves in top-down, power-driven institutions, and I think the time is coming when these institutions will need to make some big changes to survive.

HT: Tall Skinny Kiwi

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