Why has Christian music had such a hard time permeating into the secular music industry?
This is a question that I’m asked pretty frequently, as I used to be a worship leader. My personal views and beliefs have changed over the years, but I have always been interested in figuring out the answer to this.
Music is music, right? Why would a music genre be so much further behind the rest? The answer, in my opinion, is surprisingly simple, and it comes down to relatability.
To date, I have had a combined 2.5yrs of experience as an active worship leader, and really dove into what made Christian music what it is. This learning period led me to find how selfless the music was. That is not to say other music is “selfish”, it just means that other music finds its way into the hearts of a larger audience. Christian music has always been directed upwards, not outwards. The act of “selflessness” taken in Christian music comes from singing about God instead of one’s own personal experiences. Many Christian artists steer away from their own life, and focus on writing and singing attributes of God. While that is not bad in any way, it doesn’t allow room for growth in that industry.
Christians make up about 85% of all adult American’s belief systems, so why don’t more people listen to Christian music? Well, if you take into account all of the different generations added into that percentage, you realize that a large handful are older generations that prefer more traditional music as opposed to contemporary. The remainder leaves adults aged in groups: young adults 18-25, older young adults 26-45, and middle-aged adults 45-65. That percentage just decreased dramatically as you start to think about which age groups would actually listen to “younger” contemporary music.
Now, let’s look at “secular” music. This music has been seen by Christians around the world as vulgar and shallow. I really want to destigmatize that fallacy in the Christian world. Secular music has always been, to me, the BIGGEST form of self-expression. A place to become transparent and share your life experiences. The reason behind these negative conclusions is due to all the cursing and provocative content, but this is the reality of many people's lives. I understand that it can be hard to separate from religious structure, but if you really set your beliefs aside, you can find so much knowledge and insight into the lives of secular artists. These people aren’t bad, they aren’t evil, they aren’t wrong. They are purely expressing where they are at this point in their lives. Even some of the most vulgar songs have a lot of insight. They really do an amazing job of breaking down all these walls that have been built up around taboo issues. Most individuals have a hard time talking about sex, drugs, partying, etc., yet these are things that almost everyone encounters in their lives and not knowing about them can be way more dangerous than hearing about it in a song. Anyways, this is a topic that I’m pretty passionate about, so if you wanna talk more on this issue, please message me!
Back to the answer, It’s hard to find full relatability when the music you’re consuming is directed at someone or something entirely different than what’s a part of your prevalent life, and I think that’s why Christian music has had such a setback, not being able to fully cater to all audiences.
Thanks for reading!