Sunday, December 18, 2016

What We See Out There

In a few weeks to open the year, we will be doing our “State of the Christian Music Industry” blog and PDF eBook. This will be a report in a way of what we have heard from the major labels, mid-level labels, and others throughout the Christian music industry. Some of those interviews are still going on.

But before I do, I wanted to share some preliminary things we are seeing in the industry from our side, especially in the strange year of change called 2016.
The More Things Change

“Things do not change; we change.” – Henry David Thoreau

What I am starting to see is despite the move from CDs, to downloads, to now streaming, nothing has really changed. Well, except sales. It used to be people had to buy a record, tape, then CD to hear music (other than the radio, and that’s the next topic). The surprising stat is that people are consuming music as much or maybe even more than they ever have. It’s everywhere. It’s not worthless, but we may have to think of it another way.

Moreover, live music being performed for people has never been more popular. This is not a change, from like….ever. Music has always been consumed en masse in live settings.

Even though there has been a whole century of recorded music that has seen an industry rise, stumble, and now get back on somewhat even footing, there has always been live performance. Every artist still judges their success not by how much they sell, but how busy they are. They are informed by how much demand there is for them as an artist.

So things have never really changed, even in the 20th century from the phonograph all the way through streaming in the 21st century. It still comes down to how much people come to see you.
Radio Rules

Yes, I can’t believe it either. But traditional, terrestrial radio is still THE thing that labels seem to invest in the most for the promotion of their artists. When you think about it, it’s not that hard to understand. I have a 2016 vehicle that still defaults to the radio, even if my fancy Bluetooth or USB cable is interfacing with my phone. So many times, if the station I have as default is playing what I like, I’ll leave it on.

And I’m a music person, who cares every second what my ears are hearing. Moms taking kids to soccer, or folks going to work who don’t “live” music like the rest of us are just happy to have something on. They don’t care what it is. So, when the new Lauren Daigle song comes on, then sure they are happy to give it a listen.

Since the labels are so focused on the Top 30 radio stations and networks, fighting over it against themselves, there is no room for indies. We still lose out on that game in the major radio audience. But there may be a market and way to reach other smaller radio stations. It just costs money and is very hard to know what you’re getting for your money. And it may not matter without touring and…

Publicity and Marketing

These are also areas of the industry that have changed…but not changed. Sure, there is Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, and YouTube, and they have changed the way we get the word out there. But are they really any different than TV commercials, junk mail, or ads in newspapers? All the social media tools are just current delivery systems. One day even they will be replaced by holograms, virtual reality, or some other thing.

The thing that never changes is there still must be a story. There must be something unique to tell about the music.
Less is More

One change we are seeing is the trend that in this new culture of streaming and less sales, artists are choosing to do singles and smaller projects like 5 song EPs more. We have noticed this trend at Creative Soul and are trying to serve it.

Now, it may still make perfect sense for traveling or busy artists to do full projects with 10 songs. They simply sell better at your table than EPs or singles.

Well, that’s enough for this post. But we have more info coming. Stay tuned. Follow this blog to the right, or join our mailing list for more current info and opportunities.

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland is president and lead info hound at Creative Soul, a consulting, production and marketing company devoted to building and supporting Christian music ministries for over 25 years. Find out more about us at


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