A few questions for the gospel music community

Have we reached a level of autonomy in gospel music that is destroying our sector of the industry?

If I wanted to “get into” gospel music, where would I go? Where is the recommended starting point? That question spurred and inquisitive and introspective afternoon of questions and opinions that I want to share in this article.

Remember when Kirk Franklin told Shannon about his publishing, some people thought it was one entity and other people knew it was another? There used to be multiple streams that all flowed into the same pool. Now there are multiple streams but many of them lead nowhere! We do have labels undergirded by the big three (Sony, Warner, Universal) but what does that mean, now? What does that mean besides having a YouTube or Facebook video stricken for singing one of their songs during church or demonetized for including a song from their catalog in your video? We have radio promotions but many of the BIG gospel stations are owned by companies with no real interest in the genre or the people.

Publications…Journalists…who the heck is going to write about you and reach a mass audience? I can pitch articles to publications but that’s me. I’m one person…I don’t mean re-sharing a press release, either! Where are the people who have a journalistic interest in the furtherance of gospel music? Not just people who can share your content on social media for a fee.


We have tried to make SAGMA this and they never asked us for that burden. The Stellar Awards is an awards show. Mr. Jackson LOVES gospel music; the show is evolving. Save your righteous indignation for something else. Last year, during the lead up to the Stellar Awards, I asked Mr. Jackson if SAGMA and the evolution of Stellar+ programming would lend itself to the work of a trade organization and got a pretty good response to it. There is still no commitment from The Stellars to step into that space nor should we expect that of them. What the Stellar Awards does is award top gospel acts and for that they have earned the respect and adulation of those of who enjoy gospel music and work in that segment of the entertainment industry. I don’t have a beef with the Stellars and will continue to cover the show each year!

GMA (CCM and some gospel), CMA (Country Music), The Recording Academy (those are a few trade organizations) We don’t have one and I’m not sure if we’ll ever have one. GMWA filled this void for years but when the industry shifted away from actually supporting the music we sing in church, GMWA lost its weight in the industry. Where would you go now to break new music? What are we breaking in gospel music now besides our necks to keep up with our friends singing secular music?

Did y’all know that Nicki Minaj hit #1 on the gospel charts a few weeks ago? She did this WHILE openly feuding online and being her usual self. The song features Tasha Cobbs Leonard so it’s no surprise that it’s doing well. When the two teamed up for “I’m Getting Ready,” Cobbs Leonard endured severe backlash despite the song’s success. I don’t dislike Nicki Minaj, I just hope that she one day becomes who she’s clearly called to be in the Lord. When Lil Nas X burst on the scene with his “country” song, it was initially removed on Billboard’s country charts because they said it wasn’t country. I didn’t agree with it but I understood the move. Their governing body spoke up, but in gospel music, we don’t have a governing body. We do still have gatekeepers, if you can still call them that. They clearly misplaced the keys. We’re letting everything in because of toothless hirelings!

You would think that the gospel message would be central to our sector of the industry. Now it sometimes seems weird to meet people who love Jesus, are active in ministry and actually believe the Bible. Can we bring that back or do we need to create an entirely new sector for that? Other genres have filmmakers, authors and other creators as a vibrant sector of their membership. The gospel music industry is just that…music and truthfully only what can get on the radio. Do we care to change that? I have a BIG problem with gospel artists who don’t respect God, the Bible or even the gospel music sector of the entertainment industry. I would rather lose them to secular music than to see them push their real desire on unsuspecting gospel listeners and supporters.

I also have to call out the people making artists’ time and experience in gospel music a nightmare! If you can’t be helpful on general principle, leave these artists where they are! Almost too frequently, artists run to sign with labels who don’t care to elevate them. Instead, these artists are stuck in bad deals, with companies that won’t promote them or simply charge them to use company people or relationships to do the things they did well on their own. We can’t be mad when artists want to leave gospel music to be treated right. We gotta chill with that, y’all!

CHH…why is it a CCM thing? Super random, I know but I’m asking all the questions, today!

Digital Streaming (and purchasing) Platforms have eliminated much of what we even needed a trade organization for. Now that you can simply upload your music and artwork, the actual work and art of engagement is lost. What is also lost is the potential for artists to engage opportunities with their music. Many artists remain oblivious to the many tools these platforms provide to help artists attain a manageable level of success. Why? No one has told them, they don’t read nor do they attend the conferences and workshops that provide this information. By the way, those are the less shiny workshops and some don’t come with performance opportunities. This ignorance is punctuated by their lack of knowledgable representation which means they have no way of learning about opportunities or presenting themselves and their music for said opportunities. I was at a workshop at the Dove Awards when I learned this! Put the mic down and pick the pen up! Learn for what you want to earn!

I said this about The Stellar Awards a few years ago

I remember listening to an artists’ song that ministered to people with suicidal thoughts and struggling with mental health. I don’t know if their manager ever tried, but in my notes to them, I told them that they needed to reach out to organizations and pitch the song for potential campaigns. But if you’re content with radio spins and people hearing your cover of a CCM song, so be it! When is the last time you heard a good gospel song in a movie or tv show? I watch a lot of indie films so I’ve heard a few. Why not connect with music supervisors or find the submission pool to put your music to work? It’s not being streamed but it could be in a movie, tv show or commercial? If you believe in it enough to even submit it! A trade organization would at least post these opportunities and be able to show artists how to take advantage or be considered for them.

Real Christian fellowship is lacking in our industry because we’re suffocating under the weight and false pretense of superficial relationships! We can’t alienate once beloved broadcasters because their station format flipped! We can’t ignore people who make sense because they don’t have a large following. We can’t assume roles of influence even though we know nothing! I’ve seen it happen and it’s causing a deep divide among people who should be doing everything they can to keep our segment of the entertainment industry strong! People should be able to see us in the gospel music industry and see the gospel music permeating through our dealings. That includes equipping artists to thrive in this industry. Instead, our artists are poorly equipped to compete for big opportunities en masse. It’s a shame because these Pop, Country and R&B concerts are jamming to music played by church kids all over the world!

That’s all I have for now. We’re at the midway point of January and here I am starting stuff, already! I haven’t been afraid to stir the pot but this time, I’m grabbing a bigger spoon! I am GUILTY of starting something and I hope it’s engaging conversation as we work to recover control of our sector of the entertainment industry. Let’s talk…

2 thoughts on “A few questions for the gospel music community

  1. Wow!!!
    So many things to do and so many things to learn and then share!

    I feel so lost at times but I am also grateful for the little bit of knowledge I have gained from others.

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