The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Nov6Filed under: American Idol, Music, rc talk - Christian pop culture, Religion; Tagged as: American Idol, Amy Grant, Awake, BlackBerry, Casting Crowns, CCM Magazine, Gospel Music Association, Hello Hurricane, iTunes, Jimmy Kimmel Live, John Styll, Kris Allen, Larry Norman, Michael W. Smith, Skillet, Switchfoot
Switchfoot’s This is the Sound rocks the new Blackberry commercial.
During the past year, there have been public signs that Christian pop music is on the rise.
Last spring on American Idol, a pair of openly Christian contestants vied for the title and one of them, Kris Allen, won. Your TV doesn’t have to be on long to hear the rumblings of Switchfoot, one of Christian music’s top bands, on commercials for BlackBerry’s new Storm2 smartphone. Late in the summer, when Christian rockers Skillet released their latest, Awake, it perched itself atop iTunes’ rock album charts and at No. 3 overall.
Pretty good stuff for a niche genre, eh?
But beneath the surface, there have been rumblings for some time.
Late in the summer, Gospel Music Association president and CEO John Styll stepped down, saying he was sacrificing his salary in an effort to stabilize the organization, which has laid off a number of staffers. Then, in October, the GMA held an all-star fund-raiser – we’re talking Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith heading a lineup that included Casting Crowns and other chart toppers – billed as “Save the GMA.”
Even though that $1,000-a-head event apparently was a success, raising more than $350,000, there were rumors late last month that the GMA was closing its doors.
The association’s troubles come on the heels of other setbacks in Christian music, such as the shutdown of the print edition of the industry’s flagship publication, CCM Magazine, which was founded by Styll, and attendance drops at some festivals.
Christian music also has faced the double whammy of the economic downturn and the effects of a rapidly changing music marketplace less dependent on major labels for distribution and increasingly challenged by problems such as digital music piracy. (Yes, people are stealing Christian music. Go figure.)
These are problems affecting the music industry as a whole, and you know that if the top of the pops is getting battered, the foundations of a niche genre really must be getting shaken.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich