Friday, August 10, 2007

In the Record Bins

Further to yesterday’s article about buying new CDs, it was interesting, and somewhat a relief to see Christian bands like Sonicflood and Lifehouse not being constrained to the Christian music section (CMS) of the record bins. I was in a secular retail outlet, and the Christian section was quite small. So was its neighbour, the New Age music section (actually it was slightly bigger; to find Canadian instrumentalist Jesse Cook in this section actually surprised me).

The CMS had its regulars hanging out like Third Day, Mahalia Jackson (as mentioned), Yolanda Adams, The Gaithers and the WOW collections. But I suspect that unless you were a Christian no one else ventures into it to discover the music. I mean if you are shopping for Pop/Rock where will you most likely go? But if you have listened at all to any of the CCM bands making records these days it is clear that the music is not just hymns anymore. Praise and Worship music is contemporary; some of it really rocks; some of it is hard edge stuff (I am thinking of Kutless, for example). To find these bands in the Pop/Rock section means that there is a greater chance for someone to “discover” them too.

Now, if this sounds at all as being sneaky, I disagree. I believe in music that has merit. I prefer a band or a vocalist who has the chops and the background to be able to deliver. My friend, Gabba, is really into music (I think he should become a music critic). I threw him a video by the Cure last week. He didn’t like it and replied saying as much. He added that some bands just produce filler – a substitution for their very best and that expresses their purpose – and he won’t listen to it. I suppose that this can happen with Christian bands too. But, it shouldn’t. Scripture calls believers to excellence. However, I have digressed. Christian bands need to fulfill two purposes: that they produce the very best that they can musically offer; that they satisfy to God’s pleasure the achievement he wants from them – honouring and extolling his love for a fallen world. Can a Christian band rock out just as good as a secular one. Sure. Why not? Can a Christian artist sing a love song to a child, a girlfriend/boyfriend or a spouse like a diva? Well, forbid that any ever go the way of Celine Dion, but I was listening to Tammy Huggard on my stereo the other day, and she sings a beautiful ballad to a loved one that rivals anything I have heard. Note: Huggard is an Albertan artist from Ft. MacMurray; her Self-Portrait album contains a mixture of folk and personal praise songs.

Music crossover is a big part of extending sales. Most artists dislike being pigeonholed -- you hear it all the time. It benefits the retailer to diversify by offering as many possible spots for artists to be found in their inventory by consumers. It benefits Christian bands to be competitive with secular bands for shelf space. It is in the marketplace where Christians should be making a difference anyways. So, be sure to look for and buy Christian music in secular retailers; ask for them by name. By voting with your dollars you are giving a message that will be heard: these artists are desirable and good enough to be featured in their stores. I realize some of you like buying your CDs in Christian bookstores, and by all means continue doing so. But you are also fulfilling the commission by shopping elsewhere too.

-- Darryl

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