I recently attended a very exciting music and media conference at the University of Westminster which was organised by the man with the vision, O’Neil Dennis. The panel was full of a wealth of experience from across the UK Gospel and CCM industry.
Before the event began, I was offered a yellow wristband which signified that I could head to the VIP lounge area and relax with panel members over a cup of tea and cakes. A real honour to be amongst some of the big mover and shakers in the Christian and Gospel music industry. I’m not about to plug my own product, God forbid, but I imagine I arrived in that room on the back of a book that I wrote which incidentally sits on the bookshelves of the University library and judging by the wear and tear, many music students have flicked through in order to boost marks towards dissertations and projects.
Whilst pouring ginger tea, I immediately became absorbed in a conversation, the topic of which was the removal of the Christian and Gospel Chart from iTunes.
As I left the smouldering heat of this brilliant conference, a story sprung to mind…
Two shoe salesman decide to jet off to a faraway land with the aim of researching and expanding their market. The ultimate strategy was to boost sales of shoes and increase profit. As soon as the plane door opens, they are met by thousands of excited and happy people as news spread of their visit throughout the country. Whilst descending down the steps of the plane and gradually making their way through the crowds, one thing is immediately noticeable. Nobody is wearing shoes, Every single man woman and child is bare feet.
On return to Shoeland, the salesmen report back to the board of directors. The first gentleman remains seated and states barely above a whisper that he really has nothing to say, nobody wears shoes, so there is no market. The second man stands up and heads to the podium. He prepares himself for a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation and concludes with much enthusiasm that, nobody wears shoes, so as a company there is huge and unimaginable potential for wealth.
Apple Inc, the multi-billion dollar global tech giants behind iTunes charts have decided to discard or perhaps delete the Christian and Gospel music chart. They obviously have not read the Les Moir book “Missing Jewel” which describes the explosion of musical and lyrical creativity in churches across the UK. Another book that would not be on their boardroom bookshelves would be British Black Gospel.
Gospel music PR specialist Marcia Dixon and legendary producer Nicky Brown reminded delegates that the historical perspective of Gospel music in the UK must not be overlooked. To quote Brown, “without Gospel music there would be no pop music or RnB industry”.
Ryan J Bruce of SANAA Music Group kept the discussions real by delegates that Gospel and Christian music were niche markets. Dean G. Hill from Resound Media reminded the gathering to use what they have. Stephen Bradley, founder of The Good Christian Music Blog, created laughter and reality check in equal measure when he said that the general public’s perception of Christian music is that it ‘sucks’. International MOBO nominated Gospel artist Sandra Godley hosted a keynote interview with Phil Loose, the new Integrity Europe Managing Director. In my opinion the meeting of Godley and Loose was timely, Integrity should sign Sandra Godley to their label.
The conference was a great success and next year it will no doubt probably be staged in a bigger venue. Dennis O’Neil has managed to galvanise the support of Christian and Gospel music. Apple Inc should give him a call if they wish to reinstate the Christian and Gospel music iTunes chart.
Finally, I would like to give a shout out to Integrity, Premier, Apple inc, MacDonalds, BBC Radio One, Universal Records, Simon Cowell, P Diddy…..please do not take the position of the show salesman who saw no potential in a potentially huge market. Invest some time, and perhaps money in the bare feet nation from across the Christian and Gospel music industry in the UK.