Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jesus Isn't Safe: Meet the Golden Calf of Christian Radio

Here is Part two of Matt Papa's discussion on Christian radio. I always like knowing a little of the background or inner workings of different industries. I think it is good to get insight into understanding why certain things are done. Matt adds his insight to the inner workings of Christian radio.


To purchase Matt’s song “Stay Away From Jesus” click HERE

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Meet Becky:

She’s a 38 year old soccer-mom with 3 kids. She drives a mini-van, because if she didn’t, well where would she put all the crayons and goldfish? She is a loving wife and mother and is actively involved at her church. She lives in the suburbs but volunteers at the local food pantry. Becky is pretty awesome. And one more important detail about Becky…..she listens to christian radio exclusively. Yep, that’s right. And you actually already know her.

Becky isn’t one person of course…she is the prototype target audience created by the christian music industry for christian radio. True story. She’s been around about 6 or 7 years now. Christian radio demographic research discovered that “Becky” is the one who is listening, so “Becky” is the audience they relentlessly target. So here’s what happens:

Christian radio plays songs for Becky. The labels know that in order to sell music, they have to get songs on radio. Radio = Becky. So the labels coerce their artists and bands to all write and record songs for Becky….songs that will make her feel good. Songs that tell her she is good. Songs that are “safe for the whole family”. Songs that remind her of her snow-flake-ness and tell her to turn that frown upside-down. Songs that focus on love and hope. Songs that aren’t confrontational. Songs that aren’t theological because man, that stuff is up in the clouds. Songs that don’t talk about blood and crosses and depressing stuff like that. Songs that focus on Becky and her busy life. And if the artists or bands want to write songs for another demographic or another purpose, that’s fine, they can just make music somewhere else. There is money to be made.

So, here we are. Bands/Artists who want to be heard write songs for Becky. Christian radio, therefore, is for the most part an altar where chipper, inauthentic, boring, unscriptural, untruthful, gospel-absent, ear-tickling, man-centered songs are offered to an idol named Becky.

I’ve been on a couple labels in my short musical career, and I testify that this is (sadly) how things work.

I love Becky. I really do. That’s part of the reason I’m writing this. Becky needs to be ministered to just like I do and just like everyone else does. But Christian radio/industry people: please MINISTER TO HER!! Stop giving her what she WANTS….GIVE HER WHAT SHE NEEDS and that is the GOSPEL….or stop calling yourself “christian”. There is NOTHING “christian” about telling someone who has cancer that they are ok. Stop tickling her ears. Becky is a human being who needs to hear the truth of Christ, not an object to use for your financial gain. Woe to you. And here’s a novel idea: Why not target other people besides Becky?!?! The gospel has no demographics! Christ shed His blood for all people everywhere and you have mis-represented Him. I pray with all my heart that the money tables in your temple would soon be overturned.

To the “Becky’s” out there and other christian radio listeners: I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but christian radio has used you. Beware of the subtleties of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves and be careful what you support. Be shrewd about what enters your ears/mind everyday. Make sure you are feeding yourself Truth.

To Christian bands/artists out there: don’t build your careers around money or Becky. Don’t be a whore. Build your career around what God is leading you to build your career around and the people he is leading you to minister to. That’s what will last.

To christian Radio DJ’s out there: you have a sway and influence like not many in our nation have. Use it for the glory of Christ and the building up of the Church. I know many of you have the same convictions I do. Live them out, or quit. God will provide if you seek His kingdom first.

In my next post, I’ll be giving you some practical examples of what I’m talking about….specific songs, etc.

Writing for the sake of the Kingdom, Christian music, and “Becky”-


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