I have now discussed nine different talking points regarding the potential irrelevance of Southern Gospel music. If you need to catch up they can be seen here, here and here. This week I want to begin adding my thoughts on what I believe will keep Southern Gospel music relevant in the 21st century.
With technology advancing every year, Southern Gospel music needs to keep up with every piece of technology and social media in order to keep fans while also trying to capture new listeners. This week, I will look at three things that will keep Southern Gospel music relevant in the 21st century.
- Don’t apologize for what you are: This can hearken back to the over saturation and the level playing field argument I brought up in part two of the series. Many outsiders don’t take Southern Gospel music seriously because of all the mediocre music that infiltrates the Southern Gospel marketplace. Listeners have to weed through mounds of mediocre until they find that nugget of Southern Gospel greatness.
The artists recording/releasing the best music of this genre should not have to apologize for being labeled a Southern Gospel artist. At its best, I would stack Southern Gospel music up against any other Christian music genre and be proud to do so. It is time for the industry to take back the Southern Gospel moniker and proudly market it with the best musical artists in the industry and show new listeners what Southern Gospel music really sounds like.
When Southern Gospel is participating in non-Southern Gospel related events or to a non-Southern Gospel listening audience (GMA week/CBA/performing on Christian TV outlets comes to mind), be sure to offer the crowd the best musical experience you can. You want them walking away talking about your music and performance. Also, when participating in these type of events, use live musicians. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Using tracks on these type of events is an immediate dismissal of your music.
- All Southern Gospel music in 2013 should be available digitally: No more excuses. If you want listeners to take you seriously as a recording artist there is no reason your music should not be available digitally. Whether that means offering your music through Amazon/iTunes/Rhapsody or providing the option of digital downloads via your own website. It is 2013 folks.
Some artists would argue that the majority of the Southern Gospel listening audience are grey hairs that don’t use computers/internet and still want hard copy CDs. I don’t totally disagree with that statement, but internet use among the 50+ crowd is at an all time high. Also, the goal is to open up your music to new listeners. I would venture to say that the majority of the under 50 crowd purchase their music digitally.
I ditched purchasing hard copy CDs several years ago. I only purchase my music digitally. I understand I am only one listener, but if you are an artist who is not offering your music digitally you just lost a customer. Also, there is no reason that songwriter credits are not listed on your website for each album.
- Use social media: The amount of time people use in their daily lives scouring the internet is astronomical. Artists should be using social media to promote themselves. From Facebook to YouTube to Twitter to Social Cam. All these tools can only enhance your presence.
There are some artists who have legitimate copyright concerns when talking about the posting of videos on YouTube. Control the content by having your own personal YouTube channel. I know artists such as the Hoppers have their own YouTube channel as does many other artists. The Nelons have also found a way to promote themselves with videos of their dog called the Sam Cam. While this may have started as something fun, it has turned in to a marketing tool to not only have fun but also promote their group. Clever.
***TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK…***