Contemporary Christian Music Gain Success

Dec 06, 2002 12:06 PM EST

Mainstream music had dropped three percent last years in sales due to rampant internet piracy from last year, while Christian music rose a stunning 13.5 percent according to the Christian Music Trade Association.

The element that gave such popularity to Christian music was said be some experts to be the more accurate methods of tracking sales, more devoted public, and better contemporary music that fit the taste of this generation.

What was only exclusively sold in religious stores, Christian music are now sold in retailers like Wal-Mart and Kmart today with dedicated sections for it.

"Our sales were up close to 20 percent this year in Wal-Mart and Kmart," said Breeden. "It's reflective of who consumers in America are. Forty percent of the American population attends church."

Crossover Christian bands like POD had sold millions of records, and other groups like Creed and Sixpence None the Rich who aren’t explicitly Christian, caught on teens that listens to music with a spiritual leniency.

"The line between Christian music and rock has shifted so much," said Charles Cross, a music critic and author of Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain. "Even a band like Creed ... They've been able to have mainstream success and a Christian following. It used to be that you couldn't have both."

As the popularity for Christian Music spread, the American public seemed to open up markets for Christian songs.

"The culture has been more tolerant of religious subject matters," said Breeden.

Also, many religious leaders are surprised by this sudden wave of popularity and were intrigued by this happening.

"I thought [my students] wouldn't listen to certain bands," Bosland, the leader of a youth group, said. "When one of the guys said he wanted to see Michael W. Smith, which is basically worship and praise music, that was definitely a surprise to me."

Despite recent success, religious bands aren't about to be aired on Total Request Live or bump Eminem off the top ten lists, said Cross. "Christian music is doing better, but whether it’s taking away from the secular segment, that's impossible to know."

However, he said that music that touches the spirit would always be popular.

"There's only so far any songwriter can go with girls and boys and cars," Cross said. "Big issues like life and death must be explored.”

By Tony C.