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And something interesting musically. Work hard at your craft and let the "ministry" aspect follow.

I'm a grown adult (I guess!), and a big fan of the artists in the Square Peg Alliance. Andrew Peterson, Andy Gullahorn, Andy Osenga, Derek Webb, etc... I guess Webb is the "biggest" name in the group, but they all seem so grounded and down to earth.

Great thoughts Ben. You're so right about people not taking "Christian" music (and I use that tag loosely) serious. A good example is when I invited a friend of mine to a Andrew Peterson concert last year. He's a great artist and extremely creative but my buddy decided not to go because it was a "Christian concert" which in his mind = LAME.

The Christian music industry is definitely in need of some major changes. Your suggestions would be a great start.

Ditto, though you'd have a hard time convincing me to turn down 50,000 of ANYONE! Derek Webb is an excellent artist for adults.

I think we're seeing a change, albeit a slow and gradual one. CCM Magazine started including bands outside of the core group of Christian labels in their reviews and articles (The Fray, Lifehouse, U2, etc.), opening it up to a lot of great talent. As far as marketing ideas, check out what Nettwerk Management is up to. While they're not a "Christian" management company, they represent some big names in the Christian music industry (Jars of Clay, Wertz, Sixpence...) and are taking the industry from a completely different angle. Definitely worth checking them out.
With all that said, I don't know that we're going to see any major changes if any of the big labels are involved. They're still clinging to antiquated business models and they're just going to go down with the ship. There's a reason that Switchfoot left Columbia and started their own label recently, same reason Jars left Provident/SonyBMG and are now producing some of the most original music of their careers. These industry vets see that the end is near for the majors and are freeing themselves up to be both nimble and relevant in their decision making.

With that said, I'll add a few more recommendations:

To the industry as a whole:
- Forget radio, it's over except for a few choice R&B "artists". Along the same lines, forget retail, it's also a sinking ship. Immediate, online delivery is the way to go right now. Who knows what it'll be next week.
- Stop suing your customers and pour all of that money that's going to legal into R&D and figure out how to monetize the current music delivery model

To the Christian music industry:
- Stop worrying about the Jesus/God:Lyric ratio and make art that's relevant and honest. If it's good, people will buy it.

Wow... enough from me.

Obviously, you don't have any friends who are executives at NBC. I've heard at least half a dozen "Christian" bands used in NBC promo spots in the past month.

So is NBC clueless, or just your friends?

hey it could be my network...

also, i don't allow anonymous comments. But i'll let it slip this one time.

I am 45, and heavily into music, and "christian" music at that. There is VERY good stuff even from "main stream" Christian artists out there who are very good at what they do and very genuine about their lives and their craft. The problem is that my generation doesn't really follow music like my kids do (with the exception of a few of us) and many times it is just not that important in their lives...hence, some of the apparant disinterest. At least that is what I experience from my peers. Stephen Curtis Chapman is my favorite artist and is fantastic both vocally and musically. He as continued to remain relevant and his own personal life and cause speaks for itself. JMHO

you're not a youth pastor are you Jeff? =)

Not Keith,
That's most likely because they pay pennies on the dollar for the Christian song from a Christian label than they do for mainstream songs from major labels. It's the next-best thing to royalty free.

I was going to mention the Square Peg Alliance, but see it has already been brought up. :) Even with those guys, as talented as they are - rarely draw much interest. It does take a band or an artist with talent who don't want to sell out.
The market is what seems to punish good artists by making them go 'pop'... the labels just know this. The downside is collective musical immaturity. (which is probably the 'snootier' way to say it)

I stopped listening to "Christian" radio years ago when they were abusing prayer to raise money.

i agree with you for the most part. however, at 41, needtobreathe speaks to me.

i'm only saying that my adult network doesn't speak of christian bands that are not worship bands.

wow, that summarizes 10 years of Christian music angst that I have been unable to articulate. I long to see Christian artists accel in their art without a.) going 'secular' as soon as they have any success (and what the heck does that mean anyway?), or b.) completely resorting to that super processed, bubble gum, goodie two shoes (sp?) Christian music that make us all cry (for the wrong reasons).

Oh, and is it bad that as a Students Pastor I have a tough time recommending bands to our young people? I'm a musician and I feel like a cheese ball when it comes to some of the music out there.

Let me first say that I've subscribed to you blog for several months. I have so many RSS subscriptions though that it's difficult to keep up. It's been a while since I've singled out one of your posts. Because I'm in Nashville and work in the industry, this one caught my attention.

I feel as if you've pointed out what many might chalk up as nothing more than the "natural progression of life." Is it really so unusual that the members of your adult network prefer worship-oriented music? I think it's a bit of a leap to assume the reason must be because the industry or the bands aren't doing a good job of appealing to adults (you must admit the data you've cited here is anecdotal at best).

I'm 43, and my musical tastes today in no way reflect what they were 20 or 25 years ago. Sure, I love to go back and relive those musical moments from time to time, but it's not what I want to hear every day. Still, I love bands like FireFlight, Life House and Decyfer Down, right alongside artists like Francesca Batistelli, Brandon Heath and Brooke Frazer.

I see your points this way:

1. A gross and unfair generalization.

2. I'm hard-pressed to think of an artist or band these days that DOESN'T have a social justice gimmick. It's almost cliche anymore.

3. Sounds like part of the problem is you. What do you have against 50K teenagers?

4. Could you be a little more specific?

5. If I'm correctly reading between the lines, you're suggesting a musical homogenization where radio is involved. Having worked on the label side for four years in addition to 22 years in radio, I can assure you this happens, but not in the way you see it.

I've seen it many times in the case of the solo artist, but only when that artist doesn't, or isn't capable, of writing their own songs. They have a great voice and that's it (I'd argue whether they deserve the platform at all. Give me the singer-songwriter any day over the singer only). Because of this, every song on the record is carefully chosen to "fit the mold." Not only so that it eventually receives the blessing of the industry gate keepers, but to ensure the artist in question can convincingly and comfortably deliver it's message.

But I can honestly say I've not seen one instance of a BAND being driven by management, label or industry to fit a certain mold. The band gets signed for who they are and what they've shown themselves to be capable of (singing, songwriting, performing) or they don't get signed at all. Some connect with an audience and "make it," and some don't.

Lastly, I for one am proud of the music and the talent currently coming out of Nashville. Are bands creating music that appeals to adults? Your anecdotal evidence says no. But my listener demographics gathered and analyzed by an unbiased third party say otherwise.

Thanks for allowing me to comment. Maybe the next time you're in Nashville my colleagues and I can take you out to lunch. Who knows, we might even be able to get one of those unappealing bands to join us. :-)

Jeff Brown
Operations Director
88.7 WAY-FM / Nashville

This has been a really interesting discussion! I guess I kind of agree with both sides. No matter who you are or where you fall on this argument, the truth is music is very personal to everyone and even though some of us are turned off by "Christian bands with cheesy lyrics," there are others out there who are captivated by them. I have gone through the extremes in my own life where I have either bought everything that was being marketed to me despite how good it was (like in my high school years when I bought Christian glam metal crap), and when I have been a "music snob" and have sworn off CCM except for a few "worthy" artists. That's the amazing thing about music - one person's trash is another person's treasure.

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