Went to the free Digital Music Training seminar organised by the fantastic Roney Henderson of 03 Media.
It was, in a word, brilliant.
It was led by Toby and Juan from Music Ally (who really knew their stuff), and the cross section of invited guests covered the range of the Christian music scene: publishers, managers, company owners and media heads like me…
As it was an introductory course it covered the basics:
- ‘What is’, ‘how to’, ‘what works’ and ‘what others have done using these same tools’.
Much of it I was already familiar with, but there was some tremendously useful stuff for me to pick up and use (I’m now importing my blogs into my Facebook profile as a direct result of the course, for example!)
Anyway, moving on. The title probably suggests this is a rant, so I might as well get to the point:
Why does it always seem like we’re looking for solution, validation and salvation outside our industry…?
Any of the following statements familiar…?
‘We’re not as good as…’:
- The CCM market (read ‘White Christians’)
- The Americans (ooooh – they’re just so perfect)
- The ‘secular’, ‘mainstream’, Hip-hop, Pop (or any of these other nebulous terms people use) industry
Every serious gathering of our industry’s great and good I’ve been to (apart from the 2008 Gospel Grand Summit) seem to be built on the premise that the host of the day, from record labels (Sony BMG for Gospel Gathering) to TV broadcasters (Viacom/BET for Celebration of Gospel) will be the ones to pull us out of what many feel is an industry in shambles (I strongly disagree, but that’s another blog entirely)
Here’s my thing, though: we don’t need them.
Not yet, anyway… And we certainly don’t need them to grow our industry…
This industry will evolve:
- either naturally, through the work of enterprising artists like Karl Nova, Guvna B, Victizzle, Simply Andy, Jimmy James and Sammy G (just to name a few of my personal favourites), choirs like IDMC and London Community Gospel Choir, companies like Roy Francis Productions, Liverpool Lighthouse, British Gospel Arts, 03 Media, MDPR and Green Tree. Add to that live events like GL Live, Exhale, Souled Out, as well as media platforms like United By One, Gospel Link, Uprise, UKGospelMusic plus movements like Gunzdown, J4L, Smooflow and Roucheon’s Royal Family…
- Or artificially via external investment from any one of several organisations that continue to look for a way into our marketplace to see how much they can get for as little as they can put in.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the price of doing business with any of these guys means our cash actually going out of the industry instead of back in: buy advertising on BET, flock to a concert laid on by Sony BMG, etc…
I don’t know enough about the upcoming event by Oraclez to make any sort of knowledgeable statement on that.
Here’s what I think needs to happen: we build an industry around what we do have. If all we can turn over annually is a market worth only £1, then that’s where we start.
That means that we’ve established our baseline and we can start to move forwards.
Once we’ve established that side of things, it then becomes a simple matter of being able to look into going into partnership with one (or ideally, several) of these industries/companies/sponsors (that we’re currently courting in a very cap-in-hand way, in my view).
‘OK, Mr ‘I think I want to do business with UK gospel’, here are the terms:
- We turn over £1 within our sector. That may or may not seem like a lot to you, but that’s where we are right now.
- But we’re looking to take our music and message to the mainstream. Be aware that we won’t compromise on that. It’s ‘gospel’, not ‘positive music’
- You have the framework get us ‘out there’. How can we make that happen between us…?
- We’ll bring our audience and pack out your gigs, and encourage them to buy your product/service, etc etc.
- But in return, we want a mutually beneficial arrangement.
- And yes, we’re willing to discuss how best to shape that…
Those are the terms. Like it, and we have a deal. Don’t think it works for you…? Oh, there’s the door.
We’ll go back and continue doing what we do well until we’ve grown our market and industry so much that you won’t be able to ignore us.
And, oh: did we mention the fact that the terms of the new deal will swing so much in our favour it’ll be unreal…?
OK, so that’s a rather simplfied view of what it takes to do business, but you get the idea.
Somehow I get this feeling it’ll take a new generation of Black Christians to get it.
So while we wait for that to happen, will the last person out of our industry please switch off the lights…?
(More like this? See Sold Down The River – In Our Own Boat)