Friday News Roundup #216
- Gerald Wolfe has been undergoing physical therapy on his neck and shoulders. On medical advice, he has taken the last three weekends off from singing; Brian Alvey (Lauren Talley Alvey’s husband) has been filling in. Wolfe has been at each date, playing piano and emceeing. This setup with Alvey filling in on lead and Wolfe on piano is expected to continue for three more weeks.
- Phil Cross’s father passed away on Wednesday evening; on the same day, his mother was hospitalized with extremely high blood pressure and concern about possible blood clots.
- Primitive Quartet guitarist Mike Riddle suffered a severe injury to his left ring finger on Wednesday. His finger was broken in multiple places. He visited a surgeon on Thursday to discuss surgery options.
- The Old Paths are recording a live DVD next Wednesday at Sagemont Church in Houston, Texas. The taping will be free and open to the public.
- Daywind announced a date and location for a Nashville-area memorial service for their recently-deceased former A&R Director, Norman Holland. It will be from 1-3 PM on Monday, April 14th at Christ Church in Brentwood, TN.
Yesterday’s discussion on radio chart speed prompted some thought-provoking letters to the editor.
I’ve been thinking about the difference between SG and other genres in other areas of the industry, but it has an effect here too. Its widely understood that a major difference between our industry and others is our motives.
In other genres, chart success is what drives their success on the road. If you don’t have a chart-topper, its very difficult to get your foot into the industry. In southern gospel, while chart success is important, I’m not convinced its what drives a group to continue on the road. If it does, maybe they should check why they are in this industry to begin with. Groups will (should) continue to travel if they don’t have a chart-topper. That’s not what this industry should be based on. The importance needs to be placed less on the chart-toppers and more on the lives saved.
Could the charting process be sped up? If its a core part of the industry and why groups continue to travel, go right ahead. But I won’t be hurt if it stays the way it is because I hope groups would realize that they don’t travel for chart-topping success or the royalties they could earn.
An excerpt from Kevin Kreuger’s letter:
If we look back in history from the 50′s, 60′s and in the 70′s, all formats (country, pop, etc) had songs that dominated the #1 position on the charts for months. Now that we’ve become the instant everything culture, we see songs rise and fall in a quicker manner. I think another thing that comes into play is that we have more ‘national’ groups than we did in prior decades. With more groups clammering for airplay, I see songs coming off charts sooner because we have to make room for the new addtions to the chart.
I like Absolutely Gospel’s weekly chart (disclosure: we are a reporting station to this chart) versus a monthly chart, but I believe the charts are for industry professionals. Nobody walks up to a product table and says, ‘well this CD has one number one song, a top ten song and a three top twenty songs, but that one had only one number one song and one top fourty song. I’ll take the first one’.
And, finally, an impressively lengthy one from Tony Watson:
I’m of the school that says the charts have much less impact today than they did 20 years ago. Honestly I subscribe to Singing News but I seldom ever look at the chart anymore and I don’t look at any other charts at all. I was in radio for a few years in the late 80′s-early 90′s so I looked at it then. Now with so much instant access to songs through websites, YouTube, iTunes, social media, etc. the need for charting is lessened for the consumer. It’s still a measure for the artist of what the buying public is listening to, but I think other factors have bit into that as well.
Services like Enlighten, iTunes Radio, Pandora, etc. have had a very positive effect in getting the music by the top groups “out there” more. Sure there are still some quality issues, but it’s still better quality than was demonstrated on much local gospel music radio before these were available. The push-back is this . . . artists are seeing that people are buying fewer and fewer CD’s. They either buy it on iTunes, with many just buying the songs they like, or due to the exposure with these web and satellite-based services, people don’t feel like they need to buy the CD’s/songs because they get to hear the top songs for free or for a monthly subscription.
While the artists do get royalties from services like Enlighten, the impression I’m getting from the artists is it’s many times a lesser return than they used to see from CD sales just a few years ago.
Getting back to the issue at hand, I see there being fewer “landmark” songs” today than 20 years ago. I think it’s partially because of increased exposure, partially because there are more groups who have a “national” platform than there were. The internet and it’s related venues like YouTube, social media, artist websites, e-mail lists and the like make it easier for folks to keep up with and interact with their favorite groups and really not be as interested in the industry as a whole. Used to be, Singing News was the lifeline of information – now the information is 2 months old when you receive it and it’s greater value is the behind the scenes stuff with the artists, their at home visits and the stories behind the songs. Still a great value, but much different than grabbing it out of the mailbox and seeing what song is #1 this month.
Some may argue that there are MORE landmark songs than 20 years ago, but I would disagree. I think you get some songs with “definition” for a group from time to time but I don’t think they, overall, have the lasting impact as “Midnight Cry” or “We Shall See Jesus” or “Learning to Lean” or “Touring that City” or other songs that are instantly identified with a particular group from days gone by.
It’s the same thing in the rest of society. There are many other options for music, for entertainment, for pretty much everything these days. Overall TV ratings are down for particular shows because there are so many other options for viewing. Shows come and go much quicker because networks will not stick with shows to let them breathe.
The same reality exists in gospel music. The most successful groups in recent days have had a simple formula – good songs, good people skills, believability and very little personnel turnover – period. I tell people all the time, the key to being successful in gospel music comes down to 2 words “stay there”. The problem is now, economic issues are going to swallow more and more up and those who are in debt up to their eyeballs are going to be tempted to do some unethical things to try and stay afloat (some already have) and that’s a tough place to be.
With that said, back to the issue at hand (I keep chasing my own rabbits), who can name the “landmark” song of more recent groups? It often comes down to the song you first heard them sing or the song you like the best or the song that ministers to you the best. I’m asking some hypothetical questions now because I don’t want this thread to become a list of people’s choices for “landmark” song, but what is the “Landmark” song of Triumphant Quartet? Crabb Family? Collingsworth Family? Whisnants? Mark Trammell Quartet? Booth Brothers? Greater Vision? Tribute Quartet? I’m thinking specifically off the top of my head of groups that have come to more prominence within the past 20 years, give or take. If we were to list them, we couldn’t likely come to a consensus of what those were in many cases. In some cases it’s a little clearer, to be sure.
To summarize, I’m of the opinion that radio still has much value, but the charting impact has lessened significantly in gospel music and I don’t see it coming back.