Hillsong’s 14th album “God He Reigns” debuts in the Australian mainstream chart at #2 this week. This is the fourth time a Hillsong album has debuted in the Top 5 of the ARIA album chart. Last year, “For All You’ve Done” rocketed straight to number one due to strong sales from the Hillsong Conference in Sydney.
It is a significant milestone for the Christian community that Christian music can sell sufficient numbers to gain a high position in the general chart.
But the challenge for Hillsong and the entire Christian music community is to take this sales “spike” and extend the period Christian music stays on the mainstream charts.
“Blessed”, “Hope” and “For All You’ve Done” stayed in the Top 50 for approximately a month. The average length of stay for an album in the Top 50 is 4-5 months, with some staying more than a year.
Hillsong is already tackling the issue by distributing its music through Sony BMG in the general marketplace. But the entire Christian music and radio communities could be more supportive too. Not only to Hillsong in their endeavors, but to support each other, and to grow the entire sector and its impact on the general community.
All major Christian retailers should be encouraged to report to ARIA. Most key retailers do.
I was asked in an interview for Radio National last year whether Hillsong might be miffed when its music doesn’t get played on mainstream radio despite being number one. I don’t know whether it is or it’s not. But I didn’t have the heart to tell the interviewer that many Christian stations in Australia only aired the number one album only in its praise and worship programs that often occupy less than 1% of a station’s weekly airtime.
If Christian music is to penetrate our culture in a meaningful way, then we must take a concerted sector-wide approach that sees Christian musicians, distributors, retailers and broadcasters all working together – for the sake of the Gospel.
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