Michael Gungor has an interesting piece on the pitfalls of labelling music as ‘christian’ and typecasting that’s worth taking a look at. Here’s a few choice quotes
As far as I am aware, there is no Christian automobile industry, no Christian mathematics industry, and no Christian airline industry. Most people would probably find it odd if someone tried to start such an industry. Would painting a big red Jesus on the hood of a car make it a Christian car? Would a pizza with dove-shaped pepperonis or cross-shaped sausages be a Christian pizza?
No other music is categorized by the content of its lyrics. There is no Buddhist or Atheist section of a record store. There is not a “gay” section or a “money” section. The only exception is Christian music
The Sufjan Stevens’ song “O God, Where Are You Now?” was labeled as Alternative when Sufjan recorded it, but when David Crowder Band recorded it, the same song became “Christian.” What’s even weirder is that Sufjan Stevens is a Christian.
Three major labels represent over eighty percent of the market’s music: Universal, Sony, and Warner. These labels own most of the other significant labels in the world, including the Christian ones. Pretty much everybody in the music industry ultimately works for the same people. Whether you buy a Michael W. Smith album or a Marilyn Manson album, you are still paying the same small group of executives at the top of the food chain. So does being in Christian music simply mean that you are signed to one of the “Christian” marketing arms of the big three labels?
A Christian music executive at one of the big labels recently told me that the entire demographic that buys Christian music is only about two million people. Two billion people in the world consider themselves Christians. So only about 0.1% of people who consider themselves Christians buy Christian music.
Christian music is not marketed to Christians so much as it is marketed to a very narrow subculture of a certain type of Christian. For years, Christian music marketers and radio programmers have known who their target demographic is. They actually have personified this target demographic, and her name is “Becky.”
One station programmer told me that Becky is a forty-two-year-old soccer mom. She has three kids and she has been married twice. She is an evangelical Christian, but not a radical who watches Christian television or goes to church three times a week. They know the movies she watches and how she spends her money. She is the one who runs her household, the one with her finger on the radio knob, and she wants something positive to play in the minivan as she drives her kids to soccer practice.
Becky is the quintessential Christian radio listener.