Christian Music Industry Failing to Perpetuate the Legends of CCM
This is the first one-third of a longer article by Chris Marchand that appeared today at his blog Post Consumer Reports and sent to me by a friend. I encourage you to consider what Chris is saying here, and also click through to read the whole piece.
This past weekend I had a most amazing concert-going experience in Champaign, Illinois.
I was there seeing two little known aging rock artists. I say little known because the crowd was mostly in their 40’s or above, with a few sprinklings of people in their 20’s and 30’s, as well as a few kids. I also say little known because only around 200-300 people were there, and though the venue was mostly full the two artists who performed have both had sustainable music careers for over 40 years. So…you’d think more than 200-300 people would be there…
And I should also say both of these artists are rock legends who continue to put out music showing they are still at the top of their craft. Well, what was the problem? Why weren’t there more people there? The answer is easy: they both are “Christian” artists who put out “Christian” music within the realm of the Christian music industry. The concert I went to featured a doubling billing of Glenn Kaiser playing solo blues and Phil Keaggy playing a rare show with a full band. Most anyone who knows anything about these artists would easily call them “rock legends”, most especially Keaggy but I think Kaiser deserves to be up there too. It was the best concert experience I have had in years and it made me a little bit sad.
“Christian”music, you see, has a legacy problem and it manifests itself in two main ways:
1.) there is basically no infrastructure for artists to go on tour.
2.) there is basically no infrastructure for artists’ music to stay in print or reach a new audience.
Let’s break it down a little further. I am deeply concerned about the future legacy of what was once known as “Christian Music” or CCM because: The Christian music industry does not know how to take care of their artists in the latter half of their careers, nor do they have a system in place to ensure their music lives on into future generations. The other side of this coin is there really is not much of a demand for our legacy artists. There were not as many fans to begin with (due to the “ghetto” nature of CCM), and fans of CCM artists do not tend to remain as ardently faithful as fans of “secular” music. Basically, it is up to diehard fans to keep their memory alive in the public consciousness. So, while Kaiser and Keaggy’s “Christian” label and the Christian oriented music they make is not a problem for me, in many ways I do not think it has done their careers any favors towards getting them mass appeal.
Please do not hear me wrong: I know they are both artists living for the glory of God and are not seeking the praises of men or to bring glory to themselves. I am not concerned that their music makes them insanely rich either. Instead, my only goal is to get their music heard by as many people as possible and to get them remembered. Why? Because it is world class music. Because it is just that good and could bring joy to people for years to come. Like I said, both these artists are at the top of their field. They make music within the confines and structures of certain genres (rock/blues/gospel/folk and sometimes jazz), but they are both as skilled as anybody out there. Think of the most renowned rock and blues guitarists of the last 50 years. If you know anything about Keaggy and Kaiser’s music, tell me why they should not be included among the great artists of our era. And if you do not know their music but you know something about the above genres, go acquaint yourself with their music and come up with an opinion on where they stand in the echelon of world class musicians. …