Yesterday I shared a couple of critiques of the Christian Music Industry. But let’s not try to do away with the Christian Music Industry just yet. More needs to be said. There are some positive aspects to having a Christian Music Industry.
On the Positive Side
A couple of good musician friends of mine have convinced me of the positive side of the Industry. As I mentioned in the previous post, the “Christian music is not creative” argument is only a generalization, and I think we’re seeing more and more glimmers of hope for the future in this area. There are solid Christians both inside and outside of the Christian Music Industry who are making some very creative and God-honoring music. The generalization that Christian music lacks creativity is there for a reason, but we can’t let a generalization ruin everything for us. Many have set out to break the mold and some are doing a great job of this.
But beyond that, if there were no Christian Music Industry, Christians who share a more explicitly Christian message in their music would probably have a very difficult time getting their music produced. There are some notable exceptions to this, but I think it’s true in general. Consider the Christian (book) publishing industry. Secular publishers will publish books written by Christians, but without Christian publishing companies we would be missing out on many important resources. “The bottom line” still enters the picture in Christian publishing (it has to), but that’s not the only consideration.
There is definitely something to be said about Christians looking for solid, helpful Christian material to make available to the world, rather than secular executives deciding whether or not they can make a buck off of religious fanatics. (But don’t be naïve, some “Christian” companies function exactly like this.)
As with any form of niche marketing, these Christian record labels have developed networks and produced followers who trust what they produce. As I said yesterday, there is a downside to this “nicheness,” but in the real world some people are interested in listening to some types of music and not others. So while I think we need to move beyond Christian music a niche market, we also need to understand the dynamics in play.
So here’s my attempt at tying the negative and positive aspects together. I really don’t have a solution. Only half-formed thoughts. Only what-ifs.
What if we didn’t see this as an either/or (either all Christians sign with Christian labels or we do away with Christian labels)? What if we didn’t automatically assume that every Christian musician needs to sign with a Christian label? What if every Christian musician strove to be both biblically faithful and creative, whether they are on a Christian label or not? What if the Christian Music Industry did everything it could to avoid the tendency to isolate itself and battle the external forces that would marginalize them? What if we had Christians within the secular music world and the Christian music world, all seeking to glorify God by using all of his gifts?
I see signs of all of these happening at times and in ways. I would love to see more of it. And again, I’m not claiming to have an answer here, so I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on what this might look like.