From our archives. Reprinted by permission of Al Menconi Ministries – (800)78MUSIC – P.O. Box 5008, San Marcos, CA 92069
A short while ago, CCM artist Steve Camp wrote “Call for Reformation in the Contemporary Christian Music Industry.” Among other things, he claims the industry is on the “slippery slope of compromise” because secular companies own several major labels. This is a case of being unequally yoked with non-believers, he argues, and has presented his arguments in such a way as to paint the whole industry with one brush. As a critic and watchdog of the contemporary music industry, it is my duty to respond.
While I love Steve and am cautious in my industry observations, I don’t see much to support his claims.
A secular label purchases a Christian label for one reason – they want the niche in the marketplace. The secular labels have encouraged Christian labels to present a stronger product to win more listeners in the Christian market. Secular labels don’t need Christian musicians to compromise their message – they have enough of that product – they want Christians to become more Christian! In the past few years, I have seen this take place and have heard Christian and secular executives state this.
The secular labels give the Christian companies complete autonomy to run their business as they see fit. To be unequally yoked in the business sense would mean the secular company makes decisions that would cause the Christian label to compromise its testimony in business or product. This is not happening! The main change I have seen since secular ownership is a stronger and more spiritually mature product. Some other advantages of secular ownership are: wider distribution of Christian product in “secular” stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, and other retail outlets. It gives the consumer a wider selection of top Christian artists at more convenient stores than before when the choice was only Christian bookstores.
Speaking of Christian books, did you realize secular companies own many Christian book publishers? Yet the secular publishers do not inhibit the publishing of Bibles and other overtly Christian publications. In fact, like the secular record label, they encourage the Christian publisher to be the best Christian publisher they can. Why? Because they will pick up more share of the marketplace if they put out a quality Christian product.
I suspect Steve may be making these claims because his albums are no longer selling well and he lost his contract with a Christian label owned by a secular company. Yet, I have seen his former company make moral decisions that cost their parent company millions of dollars. They didn’t let him go because his message was “too Christian” as he implies. It was a business decision; his albums were no longer profitable for the company.
Making a profit isn’t a sin. Even churches have to make more money than they spend – or within a very short time they won’t be in existence. In conclusion, I have listened to and reviewed nearly every Christian album released for the past sixteen years and the trend I see is the Christian labels are becoming stronger witnesses, not weaker. I know most executives at the Christian labels personally and while they are human and fallible, there isn’t one I wouldn’t trust to teach my daughters’ Sunday school class. And, in effect, isn’t that what they are doing through their music?
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