Christian Music and Closed Systems
“So, I look up a person that I want to hear our project.
The person is at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I look at his bio on the website. He’s born in 1973. He attended Calvary Chapel’s elementary school. No high school is mentioned, but for he goes on to Calvary Chapel’s Twin Peaks Bible College. He takes up his first job at another Calvary Chapel in California, before ultimately taking his current job at – yes, you guessed it – Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.
So, I try to engage the interest of a Roman Catholic. I look at his bio. He’s about my age. He attended an RC parochial elementary school, a Catholic college and then went on to graduate work at a Roman Catholic seminary. His subsequent career is near the place of his birth and education apart from a brief stint in Rome, back to his hometown and then finally raised to the episcopate.
We then consider trying to get more effective distribution, perhaps through a Christian label, only to find that essentially all Christian labels are now under Capitol Christian Music Group (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group). The two lead executives for CMG are Bill Hearn (son of founder Billy Ray Hearn) and Chris York (son of former president, Peter York). I guess it’s all about keeping it in the family, sort of an evangelical tradition.
We turned to radio only to find that 96% of Christian radio is owned by one of two entities – the politically right wing for-profit Salem Media (which also owns and operates CCM magazine) and Air-1 a not-for-profit radio ministry. Both choose music on a national basis from an approved list of about 100 label signed artists. Essentially, two program directors are responsible for what is heard in 96% of the national US market.
Finally, we look a Christian music festivals to do second stage performances. We find that 90% of the events are run by the same promotion company and headlining the same 10 bands/artists all from the same label.
What do all of the above have in common?
They are closed systems.
If you are not fully immersed (or approved by background, education, etc.) in the closed system, then you are on the outside, with no entry possible.
The mega church has it’s own praise band, so no other music is needed.
Roman Catholics think “special music” in a service is someone singing ‘Ave Maria’ at a wedding or a funeral.
The label(s) wants everything to sound the same, as do the two radio conglomerates.
All this not only stifles creativity, it stunts growth – both in terms of people and organizations.
So, what do you do?
Sing covers of James Taylor songs at a bar until your soul is destroyed?
Just random thoughts… Would love to have some answers…”