Leave No Stone Unturned
CSI-Nashville “The Death of Southern Gospel Music”
The crime scene is set, the guns and knives are the invisible word of mouth. The credibility, fairness, respect, and integrity of many women and men that tirelessly fight for their songs continues to be organized and scrutinized. Why? Because the industry in its entirety has sold itself out. People are trying to hide behind the ministry card. Over 75% of Southern Gospel music is business. No matter what people say. Over the years gospel music has survived on a very thin and conservative foundation. It has been sold as a vision, not a genre. It has been represented with control, not knowledge. It has been held back, for some to hold on. It has been publicized, to capitalize. It has been choked out, so others can breath. You know the old saying ,"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back it loved you too." Gospel music needs to be let go. It needs to be set free. Forget the saying "Outside the box," that's what people say when they are trying to appear to have knowledge of the real world. Forget the box, forget the denominations, forget the hair, clothes, age, drums, forget all of your restrictions.
I was reading a comment somewhere on the web site where a lady was trying to find the sin in the Bible that she was infering against another mans character. Hey, I have an idea, instead of taking all that time to prove someone wrong, pray for them to do right. I really think people jump to conclusions way to often.
OK, lets stop for a minute and think about Southern Gospel music as a government. If wages were dropping, housing and demand was shrinking and jobs were being lost. Would we do the same things? Would we support the same leaders? Would we travel to the same place looking for work, when we have already been turned down? NO!! Wake up. Lets stop being afraid we may not get a spot at NQC, or we may miss making the charts, or booking agent XYZ may not take us, or we need to get signed by a major label. Come on people, think past singing one week in September, or having your name pasted on some chart, wanting a booking agent to sign you, when you cant book yourself or needing a label to invest in you when the last product you ordered is in the garage still boxed.
I think Southern Gospel music would be a lot better if-
- The labels worked on marketing to fans not bookstores. Most of our labels depend on the bookstores to spread the word. We lack any print saturation or true marketing plans to launch new releases.
- If radio stations demanded better quality compilations and music.
- If the artist would travel outside of their comfort zones, and try new territories. There are things more important than filling your date books. Who cares if you sing 22 dates a month for a total of 800 people. Wouldn't it be smarter to sing 5 dates for 6,000 people? Artists need to rework their plan. Go for quality dates not quantity. I would much rather be an artist that sang 5 times a month for a full house, than sing 22 times a month for the preacher, a homeless man and the guy that opened the church to let you in. And afterwards you take the preacher, homeless man and door opener out to eat. And guess what? You feel guilty the crowd was low and pay for everyone to eat. So, in the end you paid to sing.
- If concert promoters would branch out and unite churches to support monthly singing and support their concerts. And fight to draw crowds. Some promoters book artist and expect the artist to draw the entire ticket. The artist needs the promoter as much as the promoter needs the artist.
- If the industry would create a board or union to help draw people in, not one to help keep people out. We need guidelines built to advance the music, not preserve it. Southern Gospel doesn't need preserved. It needs marketed, educated and advanced.
A separate union needs formed to unite labels, producers, stations, artist, managers and churches. We need to respect one another's strengths and create a bond. We need to lock into a plan that we all adhere to.
I could go on and on. The facts are we're dying, falling and complaining. What we are not doing is changing, planning and uplifting. This format has followers. We have a huge potential. I hear all the time,"Man if I could do what Bill Gaither has done." You can!! He had exposure, he tapped in a fan base outside of the Hallelujah Hillbilly Highway.
So many groups and artist are singing in circles, traveling the same highways, with their good old buddies, trying to keep it down-home and real. Oh come on, I hear the complaining and griping daily. You artist are tired and miserable. You put everything in what you do. If you take a dollar bill stomp it, spit on it, rip it, chew it, you know what? Its still only a dollar. No pain, no stress has changed its value. Its the same in Southern Gospel, you can fight the same circuit, same demons, same broken dreams and visions night after night. But, you are still the same value. You have to move outside of your disappointments and heartaches. I have learned nothing easy is worth having. And nothing worth having is easy to keep. Be ready to change and fight. I am excited about what all of us together can do for Southern Gospel music.