We need love songs! I can’t think of a time more primed for love songs than now. And when I say “love songs,” I mean brotherly/sisterly love songs. The world appears to be a powder keg ready to explode at any minute. Music has incredibly powerful influence and now would be a great time for another “We Are The World” don’t you think? A song with lyrics straight down the middle with no slant to the left or right. Just the simple words “Love One Another.” So, the challenge is on! Maybe songs exist that I’m not aware of or maybe someone is writing one as I post this blog. If you know of current songs that fit the mold, please post a link in the comment section.
^Loftr Playlists, curators of POPSTER, FLOW, CHEMIX, CHRISTIAN CARDIO, CHILLAX, THE DEEP END and WORSHIP, has quickly become a preferred playlister among college students and young adults. ^Loftr founder, Keith Stancil, states “A loft is a gallery or upper level designed for a specific purpose. ^Loftr’s purpose is to curate playlists specifically for college students and young adults while introducing new music to a broader audience. With the plethora of Christian music playlists available, we make it our mission to create an elite selection of playlists set apart from the rest. Believers create some of the best music in the world and our curators are quite adept at finding that music often ignored by Christian radio and the major label/industry gate keepers. Our followers enjoy a mix of both Christian and mainstream music created by Believers”
Listeners who enjoy The Oh Hellos, Judah & The Lion, The Gray Havens, John Mark McMillan and Josh Garrels will certainly feel at home and enjoy discovering other similar artists with ^Loftr Playlists
Some may answer that question with the obvious answer “why yes, my music is up on Spotify.” What if I told you there is a huge difference in “having your music up on Spotify” and “marketing your music on Spotify?”
According to RIAA stats, recorded music generated $2.5 Billion in the US last year with streaming representing 51% of US Recorded music market. Those numbers clearly show streaming is now driving recorded music income and other industry numbers show Spotify as the undeniable leader in subscriptions.
Spotify offers some great tools for artists and managers. If you haven’t visited Spotify for Artists, I suggest you go there immediately and sign up. Their fan insights data offers invaluable information regarding who is purchasing a particular artist’s music, where listeners are finding it, where listeners are located and what percentage of listeners save the music to their library. In addition to the data, Spotify gives artists two great marketing tools. 1) Artist Pick 2) Custom Playlist Covers. If you haven’t been using these tools, you are missing out on great marketing opportunities.
This space can be used to feature singles, new releases, playlists that an artist is wanting to draw attention to. One use I’ve found is to use the space to draw attention to a particular single or album that isn’t showing up as the artist’s most recent release. Whatever is featured in the Artist Pick lives at the top of the Artist Profile so use it to your advantage. John Mayer recently used this space brilliantly to promote his future 2nd new EP while his current EP was enjoying success. Both EPs were featured simultaneously at the top of his profile page.
Custom Playlist Covers
Artist can now upload custom covers for playlists they create. Why is this such an important tool? Imagine creating a playlist cover with messaging about forthcoming new releases, tours etc. and using the Artist Pick space to feature at the top of an artist profile. The Gray Havens recently created a “Join Our Kickstarter” cover to accompany a playlist containing fan favorites. In essence they are using their Spotify profile page to make visitors aware of their Kickstarter campaign.
I’d love to hear more ways artist, managers and labels are marketing on Spotify. Share your great ideas in our comments section!
Ever wonder what music Christian college students listen to? That’s a subject anyone working in Christian music should explore frequently because today’s college students are tomorrow’s adults. Listening habits of Christian college students are similar to those of non-Christian college kids in that they enjoy discovering new music. As students graduate from high school and transition into college, they look to engage with things which make them feel like they are maturing. No longer being shuttled around in mom’s mini-van listening to KLOVE, college students quickly determine that core CCM artists are uncool. They begin their search to replace Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Natalie Grant and Tobymac with artists who represent their newly refined taste in music. Many begin adding mainstream artists into their playlists as they no longer feel bound within the Christian subculture. As they step out into the world leaving the Christian bubble, some are overjoyed to discover mainstream artists who are vocal about their faith. They also find a new excitement in discovering Christian artists who don’t limit themselves to the KLOVE/FISH CCM radio formula. Who knew there was a world of music being created by artists who ignore the boundaries established in CCM music?
We were fortunate to begin working with a college favorite, The Gray Havens, a little over a year ago. Immediately, we noticed their listeners are quite different than those on the Christian radio chart. They long for deeper messages crafted with creativity and melodies that live well alongside mainstream music. The college students are super engaged with the artists they love and and are quite loyal once they become a fan. The Oh Hellos, Judah & The Lion, Josh Garrels and Colony House top the list of college favorites and serve as examples of mainstream artists who are vocal about their faith. Those artists are often found mixed in with John Mark McMillen, The Gray Havens and The Brilliance.
While examining streaming stats for college favorites, I’ve noticed a long, steady solid growth in fans as opposed to quick spikes one might see for CCM radio artists. A search for Christian college playlists on Spotify came up empty so we decided to create some playlists targeted at Christian college students. I’d like to invite you to check out the playlists we launched called THE VIBE.
Remember the days or least heard the stories of vinyl 45s? Or how about cassingles? Those were exciting days in the music business! Before record labels launched a full album, they would release a “for sale” single well in advance. The single served as instant gratification for the new music being heard on the radio but more importantly it tickled consumers’ taste buds creating an insatiable anticipation for what was to come. With the introduction of CDs, the single quickly died. I’m still not sure why the single died other than maybe impatient record labels wanting the full album revenue as soon as possible.
Fast Ford to 2017 where we stream and download instead of placing the needle on 45s or loading cassingles into a Walkman. Have you noticed what the top artists have been doing lately? Both Ed Sheeran and Coldplay put huge emphasis on releasing singles in advance of their new full albums. Ed Sheeran took it a step further trickling out two singles a few weeks apart in advance of his full length release. The single release strategy for Ed Sheeran’s Divide brilliantly catapulted him to the top of Billboard charts while smashing Spotify streaming records.
The single has indeed returned.
Noah Cleveland released his new lyric video for “My Savior Lives” this week. The Easter themed song written by Cleveland and Tony Wood promises to become a favorite worship song for churches around the world. As listeners will see and hear, the song simply tells the story of the Gospel through a hauntingly beautiful melody.
Bono wants honest Christian music, according to an interview published by The Huffington Post this week. U2’s frontman stated in the Huffington Post interview that he finds “a lot of dishonesty” in modern Christian art. The article quoted Bono as saying “Why I am suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism,” he continued. “And I’d love to see more of that — in art and in life and in music.”
Well, as you can imagine, Bono’s statements lit up the social networks with thoughts and reactions from the Christian music community. While some agreed with Bono, most think Bono is only hearing the music supported by Christian radio. There has been an ongoing conversation about Christian radio’s unwillingness to support great honest songs for quite a while. Honest music is absolutely being made, but Christian radio refuses to support it and instead chooses music that is safe, watered down and familiar. Some would even argue that Christian radio has become the A&R team for the Christian record labels as most labels won’t sign or release music that doesn’t fit in the safe box that Christian radio has created.
Christian radio has grown quite dependent on “radio testing” in order to decide whether or not to add new music. Unfortunately, the “radio testing” is viewed by many as a flawed process and is designed to favor familiarity. Of course listeners are going to rate familiar music higher than unfamiliar music while participating in the testing process. Those results scare Christian radio programmers into shying away from adding some of the more honest music. That doesn’t mean honest Christian music isn’t being made, it’s just not being exposed to the masses.
In an effort to expose Bono to some great honest Christian music, I created a Spotify playlist specifically for him. Bono – here is some honest Christian music for you to check out “Honest Christian Music For Bono.” I think you will see there is much more depth and honesty than is normally heard on radio.
I invite all to follow the playlist and send your suggestions of music we should add to firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, the world celebrates Easter. Some celebrate with chocolate bunnies and little yellow marshmallow chickens. Some celebrate with a nice new outfit. Some celebrate with family around a table full of wonderful food. Many pick this one day out of the year to attend church. For me, it’s a time to celebrate the most important event in the history of the world. God’s son Jesus was crucified on a cross but then overcame death and rose from his tomb. An event that makes it possible for us to live eternity in heaven with God. There is more to this life on earth!
Below is a video trailer for the beautiful song My Savior Lives written by Noah Cleveland and Tony Wood. I describe the song as Hauntingly Glorious and it feels me with incredible emotion every time I hear it.
Something I often hear in Christian circles, is a common distaste for the overall sound of Christian radio. Many in the industry listen to Christian radio in short stints as a necessity for work but their personal preference is found in mainstream music. The complaints I hear are generated from college/young adult Christians, artists, producers, songwriters, record label employees and even some who work in radio. Reasons heard from those complaining include 1) the music sounds the same as what was being played ten years ago 2) every song sounds similar 3) radio plays the same handful of artists on repeat 4) the production isn’t relevant to what is being made in the mainstream. While some of those reasons may ring true, who is serving up solutions? Who feeds the music to radio?
I would argue that the radio playlists lie in the hands of the creators. If the artists, songwriters, producers and record company A&R teams refuse to feed radio the same formulaic music, wouldn’t radio be forced to change? When something new begins to work, what if creators resisted the urge to jump on the copycat bandwagon and instead chose to lead with even newer sounds? What if record companies refused to put so much stock into what radio research is asking for and instead fed radio with nothing but innovative music? Imagine radio playlists chocked full of innovative artists like Switchfoot, For King & Country, Lecrae, Future of Forestry, John Mark McMillan, Social Club and The Brilliance. Radio might just sound a bit different.
Join the conversation, share your thoughts and stay tuned for Part 2 as we explore even more.
The Gray Havens End 2015 On High Note
CCM Magazine, JesusFreakHideout and NewReleaseToday
NASHVILLE, Tenn. January 4, 2016 —Artist Garden Entertainment artist, The Gray Havens, end 2015 on a high note with top rankings on multiple industry Top 2015 album lists. The independent, Chicago-based husband/wife duo found their way into the hearts of top Christian media with Fire & Stone, produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning Mitch Dane (Brandon Heath, JJ Heller)
CCM Magazine’s Andy Argyrakis ranked The Gray Havens Fire & Stone #6 on his Top 10 Albums list for 2015 stating “this full-length debut is an enthralling and enlightening start to what’s sure to be a fruitful career.”
Fire and Stone ranked #6 on JesusFreakHideout’s Overall Staff Picks for 2015 making The Gray Havens the first independent artist to ever appear on the chart. In addition, the duo ranked #1 on several individual staff picks charts.
Christian music discovery site UnderTheRadar ranked the record #4 on their 2015 Top Gourmet Album Picks.
The husband/wife duo released a new song, At Last, The King, in December which became NewReleaseTuesday’s top downloaded Christmas song of 2015.
The Gray Havens enter the studio this week with producer Ben Shive ( Colony House, Andrew Peterson) to begin recording their next record currently scheduled for a spring release.