Please download here

Speaking of potentialities that have gone unexplored online, why hasn’t someone centralized sg music available for download/purchase online (hat tip RK)? The concept here would be something like a southern gospel mp3 catalogue site - a single place that collects links and connections to all the various places that have sg music content for sale. If you’re not interested, stop reading here.If you’re still with me, let’s push into some of the details. It would require compilation and maintenance of a database of all the sg mp3 tracks and albums available for legal purchase/download online, and suggestions from consumers of other available material not listed in the database could be added upon verification.

Here are some reason this kinda thing might work:

  • There IS a growing body of sg material out there for legal download. However, there’s not much publicity for it. And the publicity will never come, I don’t think, from the industry, where artists and labels want to sell entire CD’s (preferably of new material, preferably at concert tables) and the major publications (online and offline) depend on artist/album ads for revenue.
  • The body of material that exists and is growing is spread out over a vast array of mp3 sites/stores. There are downloads on RealMusic store that are not on iTunes, Wal-Mart downloads not on eMusic.com, eMusic downloads not on mp3.com, Eddie Crook downloads not available anywhere else, etc. Much of this has to do with the fact that sg artists change labels so frequently and the labels (which are relatively minor in the greater music industry sense) are not universally sold. For example, the Kingsmen’s Pamplin recordings are on a different site (eMusic) than their recent stuff (mp3.com). The only Kingsmen music you’ll find a iTunes is on a Bensen compilation not found anywhere else. Also, to access some of the music stores, you have to download software that some folks might be unwilling to do without knowing what material is there.
  • The downloads on the various mp3 sites/stores is abysmally catalogued, which makes it very difficult for all but the most dedicated and tech-savvy fan to find. Sometimes, you’ll find mainstream sg acts listed under “southern gospel”– as they should — but many times, the material is catalogued under “gospel,” “traditional gospel,” “black gospel,” “bluegrass,” or “contemporary” - all on the same site. mp3.com had the J.D. Sumner & the Stamps under one category and the Stamps Quartet under another. RealMusic store doesn’t even have the Close Harmony compilation album (a real gem, I gather) categorized at all. The only way to find it is by being lucky enough to search one of the groups on it. A RealMusic search of Kingsmen brings up the group under “southern gospel,” but the only album listed is Judy Garland movie soundtrack, which features “What Are You Going To Do About The Boys” by the King’s Men of “Louie Louie” fame. Oy vey.
  • There are a growing number of great compilation albums out there with classic sg standards on them (for example: Close Harmony, the SG Hall of Fame series, Word Entertainment’s SG Treasury series with separate albums featuring the Inspirations, Talleys, Florida Boys, Cats, Nelons, Goodmans, etc.) For about $25, someone can assemble a very strong collection of timeless, originally recorded (but remastered, thankfully) sg classics. A free trial of 50 legal downloads at eMusic can fill an iPod full of tunes by the Kingdom Heirs, Cats, KPNR, Kingsmen, McKameys, and the Isaacs without even spending a dime.
  • The site would ideally catalogue artists, albums, and tracks and would offer links to the mp3 sites/stores and (whenever possible) directly to the music. Most of the major online music stores offer affiliate link programs, so some money could be potentially made when folks click to the music and make purchases. Links to artist sites and product stores could be offered, as well as other sites that sells traditional CDs.

The real payoff here, I think, could be that once it is established, the site would create its own positive feedback loop of sorts. Once you’ve proven there is content out there and show uninformed or misinformed editors and content provisioners at these mainstream e-stores how to categorize and aggregate sg content, then you increase the chance that more sites begin to pick up more sg music. Meanwhile, the site could generate revenue from ad sales to labels and groups who are smart enough to be targeting and satisfying the needs of the very interested and very loyal fans who keep up with sg online (you have to be loyal to do this because sg’s online presence is so inconsistent, uneven and regularly infuriatingly unprofessional, when it’s not non-existent). And I’d like to imagine that such a site would generate hard and fast sales reports to prove that devoted more concerted attention to sg downloadables is worth the time and money.

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