I don’t know if you were aware of this or not, but for the past 10-20 years a large portion of the Christian music industry has used a term or label for it’s target audience. Ready to hear about it? Here ya go. Most AC (adult contemporary) stations call their typical listener “Becky” or “Soccer mom.” Picture a caucasian woman in her 30’s or 40’s, probably drives a mini-van, attends church, is middle to upper class… You get the picture (you could be that very person! ha.) Now of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Becky” or mothers of soccer players. And there is certainly nothing wrong with making music with them in mind. But I have personally witnessed a tragedy both during my time in the music industry and even before I ever got involved in it. Instead of encouraging and helping promote individuals to be unique and to be all that God has made them to be, the industry has promoted a homogenized method of pressuring artists into being cookie-cuttered into fitting the pre-established format that may have worked in some scenarios in the past. Now when I say “industry” I don’t mean everybody! I’m just sayin’ typically this has been the mindset of most.
I have personally experienced this pressure. The people at Virgin Records flipped out over my music way more than 99% of the people I met that worked in the Christian music industry. Why? I believe it’s because I have a “mainstream” sound with an embedded Christian message. It doesn’t fit the format. It wasn’t written just for “Becky”.
Can I just speak my mind? Thanks I have a HUGE problem that a faith labeled genre of music would create an entire industry geared towards a specific people group and end up leaving everybody else out. Especially when the faith it’s based on believes in a God who loves EVERYBODY equally and is “no favorer of persons.” God has placed a call on my heart and my life for DIVERSITY. I’ve been around diversity all my life. I’m talking racially, economically, stylistically, artistically… I desire to bridge the gap and reach people who are being overlooked. The people who aren’t a part of anybody’s target audience. I feel like I’m meant to reach into the gaps.
I believe that I will get by with or without radio promotion. I try to write with them in mind on a couple of songs just in case, but I will most certainly not forsake who God has called me to be in attempts to fit their format. It’s a narrow path. I’ve met a lot of others along the way that are doing the same thing. Our stories encourage each other. What do you do if you don’t fit in anywhere? Do you give up and quit? Do you lose your soul – the unique personality that God imprinted in you just to be accepted by “gatekeepers”? Some do. But that’s devastating to me. Instead we choose to press on. And we tell ourselves, “I’ll get by.”
I vividly remember the night of April 12th, 2011. It was a sunday night, and I was still processing/embracing the call to write (or finish writing) and produce a new record. I was overwhelmed at the thought. I was sitting at the kitchen table, and something inside me was unsettled. It was only 7:00 so I couldn’t go to sleep yet. It was like I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t turn on the television. I was restless. I saw the book “Radical” by David Platt sitting on the table. I had avoided reading it for quite some time because I knew it was going to punch me in the face. I didn’t want to read yet another book and walk away unchanged. But I had nothing to lose that night so I picked it up and started reading. And bam. I couldn’t set it down.
I believe that night God spoke to me through what David Platt had written. He was talking about the American Dream vs. The Kingdom of Heaven, how the 1st promotes self-sufficiency & relying on our own abilities while the latter promotes trusting in the power of God. As Americans it’s easy to chose the 1st one, but God gets no glory when we live out of our own strength and abundant resources. Here is what it said: “God intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for Him. In the process He powerfully demonstrates HIS ABILITY to provide everything His people need in ways they could have never mustered up or imagined. And in the end, He makes much of His own name.”
Looking back I can see how God has provided miraculously in ways I couldn’t have done myself. His grace/strength (abilities) have been made perfect in my weakness (lack of ability). In my nothing He has been everything. That theme echoed in my heart as I pressed forward and worked day in and day out. It still echoes as I’m approaching my deadline and still waiting for last minute miracles. I believe that on 11/1/11 people will assume that I just magically made this record happen. But whoever hears my story will for sure know it was not of human effort that accomplished this task, but of divine enabling and provision.
I hope you can have hope today in believing the same is true for you. Embrace God’s strength in your weakness. If you don’t have it all together then welcome to reality