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#615562 - 05/14/08 12:16 AM Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market?  
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Ralph Blight Offline
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I have noticed a lot of people who write gospel and Contemporary Christians songs and lyrics here. I also write in that genre from time to time. I was heavily influenced growing up by such legendary artists as Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, and Larry Norman, to name a few. I personally felt that the quality of music coming from these artists was every bit as good as the quality of music coming from mainstream artists, and that the message was much more positive (in most cases).

Recently I had a discussion with a studio engineer who was recording vocals for me and he mentioned that his studio got a lot of Christian bands. He eventually told me that he thought that many bands choose to go the Contemporary Christian route because, in his words, they are clearly a notch below the level of talent necessary to create a buzz in that mainstream and they know that this is the only way they can make it.

I am wondering if anyone else has observed this ideology among mainstream musicians. I can't see how anyone could say that a band like 'Relient K' is a second rate band musically simply because they have lyrics that the mainstream would consider Christian! They are technically as good as any of their mainstream rivals.


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#615565 - 05/14/08 12:24 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ralph Blight]  
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Hi rblight:

I'm not an authority on Contemporary Christian or Gospel Groups but I would not ever state that they are below others in the "mainstream" of the music world. There are well known examples of artists in this family of genres who clearly excelled in the pop world. I would mention Ray Charles for starters. Gosh, he could sing just about anything and do it well.

I don't consider Gospel as my best genre... but I have a few songs that could hold their own if sung by somebody with significantly more talent than me. (That still does not qualify me as an authority... regretfully.)

I do agree with you, though.

Dave

#615574 - 05/14/08 12:35 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ralph Blight]  
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Interesting topic! I think generally Christian artists & bands have to be as good... or better than the mainstream to compete and stand out from the "crowd".

The reason is because the category is more defined (vertical, gospel, worship, message oriented, etc.) and is harder to "sell" than something more universal (love, story telling, personal feelings) which is done in other genres and secular media. Also, style is now no barrier to getting the gospel message out, so things are more "open" but also more competitive than ever before.

I know there are many Christians who also create great instrumental music, so it's hard to tell by the song titles (with no lyrics or vocals) what the background beliefs of these composers are. Much of my own music is also purely instrumental, so it might "speak" to peoples of all language and cultural backgrounds, though a number of my songs also contain a clear biblical (just plain bible) lyrical message. smile

Let's see what others have to say!

Michael


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#615581 - 05/14/08 12:57 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Michael Borges (D)]  
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Contemporary Christian music is every bit as good as any other genre and it has become a huge commercial industry both for music and book publishing.

The latest Casting Crowns cd stayed on the back page of the Rolling Stone album chart for weeks and if memory serves was as high as 3rd for several weeks. On top of that it has just about every sub-genre under that heading that you could name. Rap, Urban, Pop, Vocal Jazz, Latin, Rock, Metal, Alternative, Folk, R&B, and the list goes on and on.

Even on American Idol tonight David Cook did a song by SwitchFoot that just is outstanding.

Sure there are second rate Christian groups out there just as there are second rate groups recording in any genre but to say that all or most Contemporary Christian music is second rate is to show a profound ignorance (this word is used here to mean mis-informed I'm not calling anyone names!) of what is out there and of the huge market that this genre has become. And it is getting bigger every year.

#615669 - 05/14/08 06:48 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Thomas Gahagan]  
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I can tell you from a lot of experience that the genre with consistently the least talent at the bottom rungs is Country and the Gospel. BUT.. (and it's a VERY important BUT) at the very top levels, Contemporary Christian is outstanding. Gospel is, in the indie community sense, not quite as good. (By that I mean Church music with choirs and praise/worship leaders). But there's an interesting trend I am seeing where the talent in those areas are shifting to Urban Gospel where they are bringing in R&B and Rap production values into Gospel music. That category has exploded for us this year.

People make religious music for different reasons that most any other genre. Some folks just feel the need to sing about their faith and talent has nothing to do with it for them. I think that's not neccessarily a bad thing. If you're focused on the message, you may still get something out of a really poorly done gospel recording. You can't say that about Country music most of the time unless it's a friend or family member.

We've gotten really bad recordings/performances/writing from every genres across all 100 we've encountered this year. But I think the religious factor attracts an unusually high number of under performers to try and give it a go. But like any music, the people at the top of their game are amazing.

Brian


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#615674 - 05/14/08 07:38 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Thomas Gahagan]  
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Originally Posted by Thomas Gahagan

Sure there are second rate Christian groups out there just as there are second rate groups recording in any genre but to say that all or most Contemporary Christian music is second rate is to show a profound ignorance (this word is used here to mean mis-informed I'm not calling anyone names!) of what is out there and of the huge market that this genre has become. And it is getting bigger every year.


Well said Thomas...and though I tiptoe lightly into this converation because I can only base my comments off of my opinions, I'd like to point out that much of moder hit music is driven by "christians" who got their start influencing the Movement known as the "Jesus Music"...

Grammy award winning producer Michael Omartian was one such individual. His work with the band The Second Chapter of Acts, as well as The Imperials and "Christian music" in between was legendary. Add to that the band White Heart was founded by Dann Huff. I dare you to find a top selling album coming out of Nashville right now that doesn't have some degree of Dann Huff's influence on it...whether it be full on production and writing (SheDaisy) or just as a session player, Dann's early work was definitely top of the class while he was with Whiteheart. RBlight mentioned Larry Norman and Phil Keaggy, but that list could continue on. Wayne Kirkpatrick, in many people's opinion, put Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant in the mainstream with his prolific (I just wanted to use that word) songwriting and musicianship.

Been to a wedding lately where they weren't playing "Butterfly Kisses"? Bob Carlisle (The Allies) and Randy Thomas (Sweet Comfort Band).

Really though? A studio engineer would make such a statement? Doesn't suprise me. I know that the next statement I'm about to make is completely open for (mis)interpretation, but here goes...there are purist in the Christian music scene who claimed that they were not in it for the glory or the commerical aspect of it, but to share their faith and create music pleasing to their savior. Rich Mullins, an older Russ Taff, and Kerry Livgren of Kansas, for example.

Again, my opinions...and though I don't have the same information the engineer has, I do stand by my thoughts.

T


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#615689 - 05/14/08 09:06 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Terrill Coggins]  
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Great photo Terrill!

Brian


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#615693 - 05/14/08 09:14 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Terrill Coggins]  
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Ralph Blight Offline
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Originally Posted by Terrill Coggins
Originally Posted by Thomas Gahagan

Sure there are second rate Christian groups out there just as there are second rate groups recording in any genre but to say that all or most Contemporary Christian music is second rate is to show a profound ignorance (this word is used here to mean mis-informed I'm not calling anyone names!) of what is out there and of the huge market that this genre has become. And it is getting bigger every year.


Well said Thomas...and though I tiptoe lightly into this converation because I can only base my comments off of my opinions, I'd like to point out that much of moder hit music is driven by "christians" who got their start influencing the Movement known as the "Jesus Music"...

Grammy award winning producer Michael Omartian was one such individual. His work with the band The Second Chapter of Acts, as well as The Imperials and "Christian music" in between was legendary. Add to that the band White Heart was founded by Dann Huff. I dare you to find a top selling album coming out of Nashville right now that doesn't have some degree of Dann Huff's influence on it...whether it be full on production and writing (SheDaisy) or just as a session player, Dann's early work was definitely top of the class while he was with Whiteheart. RBlight mentioned Larry Norman and Phil Keaggy, but that list could continue on. Wayne Kirkpatrick, in many people's opinion, put Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant in the mainstream with his prolific (I just wanted to use that word) songwriting and musicianship.

Been to a wedding lately where they weren't playing "Butterfly Kisses"? Bob Carlisle (The Allies) and Randy Thomas (Sweet Comfort Band).

Really though? A studio engineer would make such a statement? Doesn't suprise me. I know that the next statement I'm about to make is completely open for (mis)interpretation, but here goes...there are purist in the Christian music scene who claimed that they were not in it for the glory or the commerical aspect of it, but to share their faith and create music pleasing to their savior. Rich Mullins, an older Russ Taff, and Kerry Livgren of Kansas, for example.

Again, my opinions...and though I don't have the same information the engineer has, I do stand by my thoughts.

T


I told the engineer that I disagreed with him, but he was basing his opinions on the quality of Christians vs secular recording artists that he had worked with over the years.


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#615697 - 05/14/08 10:08 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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eb Offline
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
I can tell you from a lot of experience that the genre with consistently the least talent at the bottom rungs is Country and the Gospel. BUT.. (and it's a VERY important BUT) at the very top levels, Contemporary Christian is outstanding.


That seems like a very diplomatic statement. I want to disagree with the first part (before the BUT) but am not sure I can.

For technical singing ability, I think the church/Christian music is the best place to find it. I don't listen to commercial Christian music that much but I have heard some great singing in church.

Like Brian said, there are different reasons for singing Christian music. Like the book says, "Make a joyful noise!"

#615699 - 05/14/08 10:24 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: eb]  
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to do anything well takes a boatload of talent...you could say that for every genre...genre's are just labels, and i don't know that i agree that country and gospel have the least talent at the botom rungs, every genre has their hacks that slipped through the cracks...there are so many people involved in all genre's these days, to say one is better than the other is just narrow minded...i have my favorites and so do you, and each one has the fantastic players,singers, and performers...that is diversity...one of the very best players , producers i know switched over to Contemporary Christian from rock (because of personal conviction,a change of heart), he went from EMI to SONY when he did so, still tours nationally, i'd put him up against the best and he'd hold his own. JMO...mj

#615702 - 05/14/08 10:33 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Thomas Gahagan Offline
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Quote
But I think the religious factor attracts an unusually high number of under performers to try and give it a go. But like any music, the people at the top of their game are amazing.


I think there is some truth to that but if you (not you specifically but if we all ) had watched some of the early American Idol shows we witnessed huge crowds of people showing up many (if not most) of whom are just plain sad as singers. REALLY BAD!! So why to they show up?

#615704 - 05/14/08 10:43 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ralph Blight]  
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I have heard of bands breaking in to the 'big time' by marketing themselves in the contemporary christian world...whether or not they happen to hold Christain beliefs.

The belief, at least among the musicians I have 'hung with' who are trying to do this genre, is that if you are as good as the "seculars", you have a GREAT shot at making it, because there are not many who are.

Contemp. Christian has been called a "wide open market" by many I have spoken with.

And then there are bands whose belief systems come under heavy scrutiny once they have 'made it'. Many times the band members are young and have yet to fully formulate thier opinions.

From my VERY limited experience, I have gleened that there isn't alot of money to throw around in the CC market.

The Dove awards, for example. I THINK the fellow who puts the whole shebang on stresses about "breaking even" each year. It doesn't even get that much hype...and it is taped for later broadcast on a couple of very minor networks...it doesn't even get a "live" show.

I have been to a Mercy Me concert. Mercy Me had that huge hit, "I can only imagine". Well, YOU can only imagine how shocked I was that this "big" group was playing in a venue the size of a high school gymnasium.

Mercy Me had only the one hit that "crossed over". The rest of their stuff stayed very much in the realm of "Jesus music".

It seems artists who are willing to be MORE "crossed-over" tend to get more $$$ (Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant).

I guess you can take from that what you will.

I personally think that the people who are in charge of "what becomes a hit" in Christian music either

1.aren't being written anything really all that GREAT,
or,
2.have horrible taste, and that is that. LOL

Okay that is enough out of me. I feel bad saying anything bad about anyone trying to put out music to further the cause of Christ, but it is true that some of the stuff they force feed us on these stations is just not enjoyable.

The end lol.

Last edited by MrsStash; 05/14/08 10:46 AM.

Jamie
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#615708 - 05/14/08 10:54 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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The most important thing in gospel music is the message. A certain amount of gospel music is well done quality wise but with very little message , while others may not be great production wise, the message is great. It would be great to have both, great message and great quality. I've seen singers in church that sang great but did nothing to touch me, singing for their own glory, while I've heard others sing that were not great but touched me and others, they sang for the glory of God.

#615793 - 05/14/08 02:21 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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How many of you have bought a Gospel Album in the last ten years? How many Gospel Albums do you have in your collection?

The last Gospel Album I purchased was a LP Record in the early 60's by Jim Reeves. The only one that I own.

I don't know how well Gospel sells but maybe someone here can give some stastitics.


Ray E. Strode
#615833 - 05/14/08 03:54 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Ray,

It depends on what you mean by "gospel".

My hubby is a big fan of Kirk Franklin...that is what I usually call "gospel".

But, if'in you was to talk about gospel 'round these parts, you'd be talking "the Gaithers" and other "four part hormony" type stuff...as well as Jim Reeves. wink

I think there is still a huge market for "Kirk Franklin" type gospel.

I certainly know that my friends from Detroit, who attend an African American church, are very well versed in the works of the winans...but did not know any of the stuff I played for them (contemporary christian top 40).

Now, I HAVE purchased/downloaded contemporary christian music on a far more frequent basis than most other genres. Mostly because I can pretty much count on "clean" content...and don't have to worry about my babies picking up curse words from it. LOL.

But, I confess, when I want to hear "good" music in the car or something, I am left with little choice but oldies, country, or (gasp) top forty. I just have to be ready to push that "seek" button on a moment's notice lol.


Jamie
aka "Mrs. Stash Hershberger"
#615842 - 05/14/08 04:44 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: MrsStash]  
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Thomas Gahagan Offline
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Hi Jamie....

Quote
...it doesn't even get a "live" show.


Actually, for the first time they were brodcast live on the Gospell Music Channel. A new cable channel dedicated totally to Christian music of all types. Kind of a Christian MTV. We even have it down here in the sticks in middle Georgia! lol


#615845 - 05/14/08 04:51 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Thomas Gahagan Offline
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Quote
How many of you have bought a Gospel Album in the last ten years? How many Gospel Albums do you have in your collection?


Good question... it made me go take a look.
Out of the 25 cds that are the most recent I've purchased....

3 are Rock
2 Classical
2 Jazz
The other 18 are all Contemporay Christian.

In the last three years the sale of Christian music has more than quadrupled and competes with secular sales at a much higher rate than the people that report these things are willing to say. The same is true for Christian Books that totally outsell and make more money than secular books but all the "best seller" lists are not reporting it. Wonder why?


#615848 - 05/14/08 05:03 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Thomas Gahagan]  
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This is an interesting discussion, thanks rblight.

My opinion is that the talent at the top of the CC genre is comparable to secular genres but the variety and quality of songs may be inferior in most cases. There are exceptions, in my opinion, such as Casting Crowns and Natalie Grant for example, but no matter how much I like the song East to West, I can't handle hearing it every 20 minutes on the radio. On the Christian stations where I live, the same 10 songs play over and over all day and they either, as Everett said, have a good message but poor quality or great quality with little depth.

I would love to see some better material get to these artists because, like I said, I think the talent is there. I would love to see more music that a wide variety of hurting and lost people could relate to that also lifts them up and ultimately points them to Christ, because that's what it's all about. I'm wondering if the problem is more on the business side than the talent side. But I also think things may be starting to change and CC may just be starting to "come into its own" so to speak.

Of course, the majority of the music I write would be classified as CC but as yet, no one has come knocking on my door to sing it! Guess I'll have to work on that. smile

#615849 - 05/14/08 05:06 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Katie Powner]  
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Oh yeah, and probably 80% of the CDs I buy are CC and the other 20% is Country.

#615856 - 05/14/08 05:16 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Katie Powner]  
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Hi Katie....

You are right about CC radio. It is the same way with the stations here in Georgia. But I've noticed that it is changing with more variety and there are a lot of online stations now that offer a variety of cc music and better formats.

In addition to this excellent site you may want to check out (if you have not) the Christian Songwriters Network at http://christiansongwriters.org/

A really good forum with a lot of great people and music.


#615857 - 05/14/08 05:16 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ralph Blight]  
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Originally Posted by rblight

He eventually told me that he thought that many bands choose to go the Contemporary Christian route because, in his words, they are clearly a notch below the level of talent necessary to create a buzz in that mainstream and they know that this is the only way they can make it.


He apparently never heard a band like Selah singing "You raise me up" because I can't think of anyone in any genre that are better than those three. I don't listen to contemporary Christian music but my wife does and she plays me the good stuff.

Here is a youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2sZuJbxi8Y


"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein
#615858 - 05/14/08 05:16 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Thomas Gahagan]  
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Originally Posted by Thomas Gahagan

In the last three years the sale of Christian music has more than quadrupled and competes with secular sales at a much higher rate than the people that report these things are willing to say. The same is true for Christian Books that totally outsell and make more money than secular books but all the "best seller" lists are not reporting it. Wonder why?


Michael W. Smith has four platinum albums and 9 gold albums, better than many mainstream artists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_W._Smith_Discography

BTW, what are your three rock albums?


Fisherman hook fish; songwriters fish for hooks

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#615860 - 05/14/08 05:22 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Ralph Blight]  
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Quote
BTW, what are your three rock albums?


Eagles.. Long Road out of Eden

A best of Santana album

Led Zep Mothership


#615960 - 05/14/08 10:48 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Thomas Gahagan]  
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#615973 - 05/14/08 11:22 PM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Michael James Moore]  
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Thanks for sharing that link. Awesome!

#616013 - 05/15/08 01:10 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Thomas Gahagan]  
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Thomas Gahagan Offline
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Did you notice the Ford commercial on Idol tonight?

Music.... Los Lonely Boys.... How far is heaven!


#616015 - 05/15/08 01:15 AM Re: Contemporary Christian market - a secondary market? [Re: Michael James Moore]  
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Originally Posted by Michael James Moore


He co-wrote one of my favorite Contemporary Christian songs of all time with Keith Green and another writer - "Love Broke Through", which appeared on Keith's debut album for Word Records in 1977, 'For Him Who Has Ears To Hear'. Phil Keaggy Covered it on a later classic album he named after the song.


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