The Future of Music (Part 5 of 5)

5 Questions. 5 Voices. 5 Fresh Perspectives.

Welcome to the final part of our conversation on the future of music. You can also check out the panel’s thoughts on the future of breaking a hit, labels, the album, and distribution.
The Panel:

Phil Conner: President, Red Room Management. Red Room recently signed Kentucky-based rockers Nineball.

Mike Condo: Senior Sales manager of Gotee Records (Family Force 5, Ayeisha Woods, Relient K).

Josh Ballard: Vocalist/pianist for Until June.

Manchild: MC for the acclaimed underground hip-hop group Mars ILL.

Luke Bushias: guitarist for the Chicago-based band Made Avail, who currently have no record label affiliation.

The Question: Finally, it’s getting harder and harder to define what music is “Christian.” More faith-based artists are signing to major labels (due in part to American Idol), and there are now bands who are “all Christians, but not a Christian band,” and Christians who play in bands made up of people who don’t share their beliefs. With this in mind, what is the future of the Christian music industry?

Manchild: It’s hard to say. You know, Mars ILL has sort of skirted the label of being a “Christian” artist in some circles, but at the same time has been embraced by certain church groups and organizations. If you’re a individual/group/band of integrity and your faith is real, then there’s got to be a place for you on the “Christian” side. If you’re also willing to get out there and get your hands dirty and your craft is tight, there’s a place on the other side for you as well. Personally, I’ll play wherever people want to hear it…

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Phil: Personally, I’m encouraged to see the lines being blurred . I think that Christian musicians need to continue to step up and be known for excellent art because of our passion for something that’s true. If this continues to happen, not only will the lines continue to blur, but we’ll see Christian artists leading the way in musical trends.

Josh: There are so many different fascets of Christian music. There will always be a need for “ministry music”. That will never go away. What is exciting is that the industry has been able to bridge the gap from Secular to Christian. Meaning, it’s ok to be a Christian and sing about heartache and love. As a kid growing up in the Church it was always frowned upon to sing about romantic love, I guess we didn’t realize that they’re not mutually exclusive.

Luke: As a genre it is changing as much as any other. Through the internet Christian artists have the same advantages as everyone else. The church (or current audience) has the choice of listening to music that they love instead of being forced to listen to certain sub-genres. Since the Christian market has been diversifying itself, major labels have been absorbing selected artists. In essence the boundaries are falling. The opportunities are endless to those who are open to change. Since the boundaries are falling, it seems harder and harder to classify “Christian” vs. “non Christian” music. I think this is a positive thing. The segregation of Christian and mainstream is being lifted. Which gives Christians artists the opportunity to have their music be heard by people outside the church.

Condo: It will continue to make music for the church body as well as make music to grow the body. Personally I have struggled with this question for some time. I remember someone once asked me that if you put a cross on a pot holder does it make it a Christian pot holder? For that matter if a Christian painter paints an image of his children is that a Christian painting? There are some Christian musicians that make music for the church and there are some that just make music. One thing is for sure that no matter what is made, written or sung it was God that gave the person the ability to do it. I think it is great that there are “Christian” bands playing OzzFest and Warped tour. If just one person comes to know Christ because a band was on one of these tours then I say that was time well spent.

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