Industry observer analyses changing face of the Christian music scene

BRITISH BORN journalist now living in USA Andy Butcher has written an incisive critique of the Christian music industy's move to the age of internet downloading. Writing in the April 3rd edition of Christian Retailing, Butcher commented, "Musically, we're at what might be called an Amtrack moment. Historians, you will recall, observe the once great American railway network ceded its dominant place because it lost the plot, the big picture. It thought it was in the business of trains, not transportation, and sat back whilst passengers and freight took to the road and air. Today, music labels and retailers are grappling with what it means to be about music, not CDs, as the industry shifts from disc to digital. For both Amtrack and the music track, it's about changing methods of delivery. Everything from infant rockers to jeans comes with specially adapted versions to accommodate iPod users, these days. With more than 50 million in circulation already, Mac's baby is impacting more than just furniture and fashion, though. It's changing that way many people engage with the world around them. If French philosopher Rene Decartes were alive today, maybe he would muse, 'iPod, therefore I am.'

"Behind the technology is also a fundamental and far-reaching shift in consumer habits. While their baby boomer parents bought albums, today's young music listeners are more likely to want individual tracks, to pick and choose. So, they are turning to the internet. It's important not to get carried away with all the techno writers' hype, though. The iPod is clearly ushering in change, but it's not all going to occur next week. And though CD sales saw an unarguably significant 20 per cent drop between 2001 and 2005, it is not all because of down loading. One in five respondents in a recent poll blamed the drop on a decline in music quality, whilst another one in 10 or so said that it was because CDs were just too expensive. While many, of course, see the iPod's success accelerating the trend toward digital downloading, one music industry report last year predicted that CDs would remain the dominant music form for at least three or four more years." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.