I was reading Seth Godin’s blog the other day. He shares a statistic: of the 13 million songs for sale online last year, 10 million never got a single buyer and 80 percent of all revenue came from about 52,000 songs. That’s less than one percent of the songs. I found this idea very interesting.
Of course I started to think about church. There are the one percent churches out there like Northpoint, Willowcreek, Elevation, Mosaic, Mars Hill (both of them) and some others. Their leadership does the conference circuit and they write the books and articles. Now don’t get me wrong I admire most of these places and what they are doing in the kingdom. But…. They are the one percent churches. They are the stuff that gets played on the radio all the time. Doesn’t make what they do bad. There is good music on the radio.
What I wonder about is how many great musicians are in the 3 million other songs that were purchased. They just don’t have the right look or they live in a town of 100 people so they don’t get the exposure someone else does. How many beautiful expressions of the kingdom of God in a local context are there that we never hear about?
I have another observation I think is odd when I think about this music and church relationship. Most churches are looking to that one percent of churches and trying to be like them. Now I know there are some bands that try to be like or cover popular bands. Don’t we all just kinda feel sorry for them though? I have much higher respect for a local musician that is doing their own stuff. Yes, maybe they cover a song here or there to pull the audience in but mostly they play stuff they have written. Why don’t churches do this? I feel like churches are trying to be like the next big thing. In the 90’s everybody was trying to be Willow Creek or Saddleback. Why? Sure they are in the one percent and we can respect them and listen to them. But why not work on our own stuff? Why do we listen to what the spirit is telling Rick or Bill over what he is saying to us? I think it is easier to listen to what God is telling other people instead of hearing what God is telling you.
What is God telling you to write and sing?