Matt Papa has an interesting article on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). It begins with a a person, a golden target audience prototype…
Meet Becky: She’s a 38 year old soccer-mom with 3 kids. She drives a mini-van, because if she didn’t, well where would she put all the crayons and goldfish? She is a loving wife and mother and is actively involved at her church. She lives in the suburbs but volunteers at the local food pantry. Becky is pretty awesome. And one more important detail about Becky…..she listens to christian radio exclusively. Yep, that’s right. And you actually already know her.
Becky isn’t one person of course…she is the prototype target audience created by the christian music industry for christian radio. True story. She’s been around about 6 or 7 years now. Christian radio demographic research discovered that “Becky” is the one who is listening, so “Becky” is the audience they relentlessly target. So here’s what happens:
Christian radio plays songs for Becky. The labels know that in order to sell music, they have to get songs on radio. Radio = Becky. So the labels coerce their artists and bands to all write and record songs for Becky….songs that will make her feel good. Songs that tell her she is good. Songs that are “safe for the whole family”. Songs that remind her of her snow-flake-ness and tell her to turn that frown upside-down. Songs that focus on love and hope. Songs that aren’t confrontational. Songs that aren’t theological because man, that stuff is up in the clouds. Songs that don’t talk about blood and crosses and depressing stuff like that. Songs that focus on Becky and her busy life. And if the artists or bands want to write songs for another demographic or another purpose, that’s fine, they can just make music somewhere else. There is money to be made.
So, here we are. Bands/Artists who want to be heard write songs for Becky. Christian radio, therefore, is for the most part an altar where chipper, inauthentic, boring, unscriptural, untruthful, gospel-absent, ear-tickling, man-centered songs are offered to an idol named Becky.
I’ve been on a couple labels in my short musical career, and I testify that this is (sadly) how things work.
I love Becky. I really do. That’s part of the reason I’m writing this. Becky needs to be ministered to just like I do and just like everyone else does. But Christian radio/industry people: please MINISTER TO HER!! Stop giving her what she WANTS….GIVE HER WHAT SHE NEEDS and that is the GOSPEL….or stop calling yourself “christian”. There is NOTHING “christian” about telling someone who has cancer that they are ok. Stop tickling her ears. Becky is a human being who needs to hear the truth of Christ, not an object to use for your financial gain. Woe to you. And here’s a novel idea: Why not target other people besides Becky?!?! The gospel has no demographics! Christ shed His blood for all people everywhere and you have mis-represented Him. I pray with all my heart that the money tables in your temple would soon be overturned.
Now I know why most of the songs on my local radio station are sentimental, cheesy and ….umm ticklish. Grrr ;)