Exploiting listening devices is much simpler

David Bruce Murray has been cranking out some provocative and thoughtful stuff about the nuts and bolts of the industry lately. Much of it is first-rate and insightful. But his latest list of ideas about how sg could be a “leader” in exploiting the popular of listening devices like iPods is well-intentioned but unnecessarily complicated.

Rather than spending time dreaming up or implementing gimmicky promotions to draw new-media consumers to southern gospel, gospel music should focus on getting as much music and video from every era of southern gospel history (including, of course, the present) onto iTunes in the proper categories and cross-listings.

For one thing, the iTunes approach has got to be the least costly way to tap into the single most proven paradigm for provisioning music and other entertainment media digitally. It also simply doesn’t make sense for labels, artists, or distributors in a economically struggling genre to dump resources into any other web-based product or digital service line that will - even it’s wildly successful - only reach a sliver of the gospel-music buying population as it currently exists.

Really, though, it’s somewhat stupefying (but entirely emblematic of sg’s lack of vision as an industry) that we’re still talking about this, that gospel labels have been so slow to put even a modicum of their artists’ music on iTunes, to say nothing of all the old music for which they hold some rights of distribution.

I have argued for quite some time now (and here and here) that sg has to think about and begin committing to digital content provision, and/but the ubiquity of iTunes makes it the only sensible focal point for digital media initiatives for southern gospel right now (though, full disclosure, I have advocated my own overcomplicated proposals at times too).

Indeed, given the inertia among individual labels, one could make a pretty persuasive case that the Southern Gospel Music Guild and/or GMA - in their roles as promoters and custodians of white gospel music - have an obligation (or at least a really prime opportunity) to spearhead a task force solely charged with coordinating the effort to get gospel music on iTunes. SG on iTunes is not just good bidness but one of the best ways to keep gospel music from becoming (even more) obselescent, or worse, entirely forgotten in the age when things cease to exist for all practical purposes if they’re not accessible online.

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  1. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    E-music has some great classic SG available. They have mp3s of the Sons of Song, Florida Boys (Coy Cook era), and compilations of various artists albums featuring groups of early 60s. I would think that it is cheaper to make downloads available than to put this material on cd.

  2. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    iTunes is part of the equation…I actually listed it in my Solution 2…but iTunes is NOT the end-all answer.

    Some of us don’t own iPods. Music I buy on iTunes can’t be moved to my iRiver device without some level of hassle.

    So while it would be a plus…I called it a “no-brainer”…to get SG on iTunes, more needs to be done to exploit SG for those who like to carry music around with them.

    Putting MP3 or WMA format files as a bonus on an “audio plus data” CD just makes sense. With the mass popularity of portable devices, all CDs should offer this, but amazingly, no one is.

    The value of selling a back catalog on DVD in high resolution, subscription service suggestions, etc. may not be as plausible, but these ideas are probably worth a try with the most popular artists in the genre. What DVD or portable device owning Cathedrals or Happy Goodmans fan wouldn’t drool over a package of DVDs containing everything the group ever recorded on a particular label?

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