NASHVILLE, TN –
Pop, rock and country record sales have dominated due to large coverages on MTV, VH1 and CMT. Participants of the annual Gospel Music Week convention April 24-28 in Nashville were circulating news that gospel music may soon begin reaping the same rewards.
Two new channels -- Gospel Music Channel and MP Network -- are slated to bow by year's end.
The ones to launch GMC are a pair of veteran cable executives, former senior VP and general manager of Discovery Networks Charles Humbard is president/CEO. Brad Siegel, previously president of Turner Entertainment Networks, will serve as vice chairman and veteran country artist Larry Gatlin will serve as the director of artists and performances for country and Southern gospel.
The headquarters of the Gospel Music Channel will be stationed in Atlanta with production offices in Nashville, sponsored by private equity firms experienced in media investing: Alpine Equity Partners and Constellation Ventures.
The GMC will feature original prime-time programming, biography programs, and music videos with music styles ranging from country, rock, rap and children's music.
Humbard wants the network to "represent the entire body of work of all the diverse artists as well as diverse music styles." He originated the idea for the channel and has been developing it for two years.
"One of the things we will do is go really deep into the archives and trace the history of gospel music," Siegel says. "We aren't going to limit ourselves just to contemporary music of the moment."
At the convention, an announcement regarding the emergence of another faith-based music channel is the MP Network which will be stationed in Charlotte, N.C. Backed by a group of Christian businessmen, the channel's launch is spearheaded by president/CEO Larry Moore who previously was a CEO of Convacent, a broadband cable equipment engineering and design firm.
The vision of MP, as Moore says, is to target 18- to 34-year-olds. "Programming will consist of music videos, live and taped concerts and profiles of artists," he says. "Our emphasis will be predominantly urban, rap, rock, contemporary gospel and adult contemporary."
Though MTV, VH1 and CMT have flourished, the gospel industry hasn't been as fortunate with a cable vehicle for its music. Previous history of Gospel music being broadcasted was when Z MTV, a Nashville-based gospel channel that attempted to increase Gospel music video popularity.
"The gospel music industry is larger and more developed since the Z Music days," Gospel Music Assn. president John Styll says. "As 7% of the domestic music market, it is a viable genre with a large, devoted fan base."
Moore says Z Music was simply ahead of its time. "Contemporary Christian/gospel music had not reached the popularity it has reached today. Obviously, Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' has brought a tremendous amount of focus on the marketplace."