Merging several styles into Christian music has helped increase its audience and sales and attract young listeners, industry leaders say.
“The music is amazing and refreshing,” Dale Baker, a marketing representative with EMI Records, told the Chillicothe Gazette. “You’ve got every style in there: rap, hard rock, dance, everything.”
Christian music sales increased 13.5 percent in 2001 and 18 percent through the first seven months of this year, the newspaper reported in a recent series.
Recent figures from the Gospel Music Association show that Columbus is one of the top 10 U.S. markets.
“We have a lot of people in that market who identify with Christian music and go out and buy it. And they support those same artists by attending their concerts,” said Frank Breeden, the association’s president.
Nearly 10 years ago, Christian music concerts often took place in churches before about 200 people. A recent Columbus show by singer Steven Curtis Chapman was held in the 4,000-seat Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
Scott Saunders, program director for Christian music radio station WCVO-FM, said skeptics about the style of the music quickly learn it’s a lot more than gospel. Some Christian bands have turned to alternative rock or bluegrass.
“Christian music has changed a great deal,” Saunders said, adding that it’s well-written and produced and has a contemporary sound.