Preview to an Experiment

On Tuesday, I’ll be posting a review of the forthcoming Mark Bishop album (streetdate: June 17), The Fields of Love. It will look and quack (and yes, probably snark) like a regular review. But it will also include an experimental component I’m piloting with Crossroads Music, Bishop’s label, and because, should you choose to involve yourself, it will include you, I want to let you know ahead of time what you’ll be seeing and perhaps doing.

Here’s the deal: starting today (May 23) Crossroads Music is selling Bishop’s album on the Crossroads online store for $5.99 (full artwork/jacket is included, as a separate free download; follow the instructions on the website). My review will be posted on Tuesday, May 27, and the album will remain available at that price until Friday, May 30, for any late adopters who want to get in on the act. As many of you who’d like can go buy it for that (discounted) price. (After May 30, it’s my understanding that Crossroads will remove the download altogether from the website until the June 17 streetdate.)

The idea here is that readers will listen to the same new music I’m reviewing immediately before or after my review is posted and comment in ways that are not purely (or even mainly) reactions to what I’ve said (see Song, His for examples of what happens when comments react only to what I’ve said and bother not a tittle to engage the music or the ideas of the reviews). Additionally, executives from the music label plan to comment, and my understanding is that Bishop himself will be involved to some extent in the discussion, should one take off.

Of course you don’t have to comment to get the album at a discounted price. And this is probably an excellent time to note that, besides getting the album comped, I’m not being paid or remunerated in any way or form for my involvement. Crossroads and Bishop may or may not make money off my participation (and yours). That’s really not my concern or my interest.

So why I am doing this? There is a lot of talk these days about the “viral” spread of new media online and tribal marketing that I could go into and use as foundational concepts underlying my interest in this experiment. And as an academic, I’m curious about what this tiny little test of some of these theories reveals. But mostly for me, this just sounded like something interesting to do. Averyfineline has been one long experiment for me in making rules, breaking them, remaking and then breaking different ones, and generally figuring things out as I go along. Thus, this idea felt vaguely like the way so many ventures have begun for “Avery”: an unsought idea that glimmers with just enough possibility and differentness to be tantalizing. Because you can only talk about ministry vs entertainment (or divorce!) so many times, before it starts to bore the hair off you.

Still, different doesn’t always = worth doing in the long run. And honestly I’m more than a little skeptical in this case of being able to engineer or “seed” a viral spread of a southern gospel album (don’t viruses work by precisely not being planned or expected? And do southern gospel and viral sound right at all in the first place?). And even if it succeeds, I may not even want this album to “go viral.” But at the very least, by this time a few days from now I’ll probably have gone long enough without being spectacularly wrong about something, so maybe if this all blows up or melts down or just sucks, it will be the re-proof of my serial fallibility that I’ll need for that day. And anyway, I have the time during the summer to do this kind of larkish thing, so yeah … I said yes. And who knows, it might not suck. So there’s that, too.

Why Crossroads? Conspiracists will be very disappointed, but it’s simple: Crossroads (namely, Mickey Gamble) came up with the idea and asked. But I’d have just as likely said yes to Daywind or Canaan if they had asked first (and would still be open to it, pending the results of this experience), because when it comes to interesting ideas, I’m easy that way.

I didn’t choose the album and frankly, I’m not a Mark Bishop fan, which Crossroads is well aware of (but then I also haven’t ever really listened to him that much either). So everybody’s gone in with their eyes wide open. Including, I trust, you.

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  1. J.C. wrote:

    I like Mark Bishop’s style but unfortunately, his songs often contain bad theology and un-scriptural “folk aphorisms” about God, life, love, and the other side. One of the worst songs is “I Got Here As Fast As I Could”: it refers to a miscarried baby as remaining a baby for all eternity (although, strangely enough, the eight-year-old does not stay eight years old). It also says that “everyone leaves (i.e. dies) when they should”, implying that no one dies before their time, which is contrary to Biblical teaching. I could go on with several more examples.

  2. DJPhil wrote:

    EXPERIEMENT? From the Dan Quayle school of spelling? When in doubt just add an “e” someplace! lol
    Great price on a download though!!

  3. Canaan's Crossing wrote:

    I think this is a great idea. We have been discussing just this week about the way music buyers are not buying CDs any more but download the songs they want for their favorite brand of mp3 player or cell phone.
    This trend is much like going from vinyl to 8-track to CD, etc.
    I will be interested in following this test.
    Thanks !

  4. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Sounds like a little bit like guerrilla marketing.
    Public relation people do this process all the time.
    Arousing the masses in an coordinated marketing program to buy the product when it is hot.
    Could the “1000 fan” approach work here?
    How many fans has Mark Bishop built up over the years?
    Mark did a good job with bottled water.
    Alot more than 1000 fans!

  5. quartet-man wrote:

    I am not a downloader and I do not own an ipod. I prefer a CD and jewel case insert in my hands. MP3’s are not as good of quality and one can buy the CD AND make their own mp3’s. There is your win win.

    With that said, I am probably in a minority and this could do well for all of those wh don’t mind the mp3’s lack of quality and who is looking for an easy way to have it on their ipods and computers.

  6. quartet-man wrote:

    sorry, “who are looking”

  7. PM wrote:

    What if Mark Lowry, Tony Gore, Kirk Talley and Ryan Seaton went on a concert tour, what would the tour be named?

  8. joe wrote:

    #7: I give up. What would the tour be named?

  9. quartet-man wrote:

    #2, is your name DJ Phil or Dr. Phil? ;)

    #7 I give up too

  10. Champ wrote:

    I’ve just downloaded the “Fields Of Love” project and am about to listen to it for the first time.
    I had the opportunity to talk with Mark about this venture when it was still in its relative infancy. I’ve known Mark for almost 20 years now, and I’ve never seen him this excited about something he’s created.
    I marvel at his ability to tell a story and relate it to the Christian walk. Are all of his songs “by the Book” scriptural? No. But I challenge anyone to look at Mark’s entire body of work and somehow come to the conclusion that one could not possibly come to know Christ through the songs Mark has been inspired to write.
    I, too, can point you to many Southern Gospel songs that aren’t literally scriptural, but still carry a very valid message. “My Name Is Lazarus” is the first one that comes to mind. In writing that song, Rodney Griffin actually took the time to explain within the song, “if we may create an illustration”.
    Just like preacher’s do most every Sunday, Mark creates illustrations in many of his songs that so eloquently tell a story.
    I am elated for Mark in his continuing drive to get the message of Christ and His salvation power out to the people in ways no one else has done (or didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to do) before.
    Bravo, Mark. Keep on keeping on telling those wonderful stories!

  11. Sick of it wrote:

    #7 I would think they may be called - PRIDE Quartet. Or maybe this would be the first female quartet in a long time.

  12. jones wrote:

    Oh my, don’t mention the name Phil on this thread. We don’t need to go down that road again.

  13. Laughter wrote:

    Girls Night OUT

  14. Revpaul wrote:

    #7 Why is it so difficult to understand that not every blog subject is “open forum”? Your silly comment was completely out of place, as well as tasteless! And then #8, #11 and #13 fall for it and a perfectly good discussion gets sidetracked. Open threads are provided regularly for your rantings. See you there.

  15. benjamin wrote:

    I have to agree with #1. Mark’s style is good but the lyrics much like that of Phil Cross and Adam Kahoot which tend to be over “lavish”. A poor example would be a poorly cooked and underwieght hamburger with “the works”, lettuce, tomatoe, onions, etc, the whole nine yards.

  16. Norm Graham wrote:

    When I post it says, your post is being moderated or some such. If so, I don’t know why posts such as #7 are not deleted immediately which would also ensure there are no followup posts to it.

  17. quartet-man wrote:

    I understand about open threads and the like, but if something is brought up and we want to discuss it, or ask about it, what is the harm?

    Sure it isn’t as neat, but even talking among people in person conversations take turns.

    Granted, it does interfere with the topic at hand, and would best be on an open thread, but at the end of the day, it isn’t earth shattering compared to other things.

  18. GM wrote:

    #7 is trying to stir up a bit of conversation at the expense of several great southern gospel performers. Not funny. There was an open thread several weeks ago that the comment would belong in.

  19. 2miles wrote:

    With the Mark Bishop download…was there a way to download the whole album at one time without having to download each song individually? I had to click on each song and download them seperately….

  20. Adam Kohout wrote:

    This is Adam Kohout responding to comment #15 Benjamin (if that is your real name) your comment really makes no sense at all. I’m not sure if you are trying to insult our writing or not…I do however count it an honor to be included with Mark & Phil, but I have to say Pal you are off your chain. Jealosy is a terrible thing!

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