Britain’s First Official Christian Music Chart

Chart success aids every aspect of an artist’s existence: profile, quick recognition, airplay, audience reach, product sales, getting bookings (at home and abroad) and, of course, increased royalty income.”

Britain’s First Official Christian Music Chart

– ARE YOU READY FOR IT?

Britain should have its first official gospel album chart in the Spring.  Juliet Fletcher outlines what it could mean for UK Gospel, and shares how artists can get ready for it.

There was a lot of excitement on the gospel scene at the end of last year, when the GMIA (Gospel Music Industry Alliance) announced that the UK music industry will see the launch of the first Official Christian and Gospel Album Chart – expected in the Spring of 2013.

Views may vary on what a chart may (or indeed may not) bring to UK Gospel. Ken Burton, Director of the London Adventist Chorale, believes that it can encourage healthy competition, and therefore help raise everyone to new artistic standards. That perspective has a certain validity to me. Sometimes creativity works well when people either face a personal challenge, or are inspired to create great works similar to another artist.

CHART BENEFITS

Certainly, over time, charts have proven to be drivers (or cogs) that help the engines of the music industry and the genres they represent to run: music buyers are assisted in knowing what might be the ‘best buy’ among thousands of choices; artists have empirical proof or measurement of the popularity of their work, while music business managers and investors can justify their current and future strategies and plans. Charts help to push new artists with new sounds and styles to the fore.

Music and video charts are increasing in every region of the world primarily by virtual means.  According to published reports toward the end of last year, technology company Apple added a further 56 countries to its online iTunes Stores. This brings iTunes Stores to a total of 119 countries, and means that as iTunes identifies genre-specific charts, including that for Christian & Gospel Music, the possibility that a UK Gospel artist could achieve sales success in various countries around the world, and become a national chart hit in one or more regions, is a credible dream.

Chart success aids every aspect of an artist’s existence: profile, quick recognition, airplay, audience reach, product sales, getting bookings (at home and abroad) and, of course, increased royalty income.

However, the stark reality is that, even as I write, most UK Gospel artists, who are preparing brilliant sounding material for their next album release, are failing – and are destined to fail – because they are not rights ready, business ready or chart ready.

WARNINGS & ADVICE

I’d be neglecting my responsibility as an industry leader if I didn’t warn and advise all those planning an album release in 2013. There will be no point UK artists complaining when they see US artists regularly appearing in the UK Chart, if they do not take the relevant steps to get their music into the charts.

The GMIA is running a series of workshops/webinars, and offering resource kits to gospel artists and record labels. These will be perpetually available online. Also, from February, GMIA will be operating a monthly ‘LIVE Surgery’ session for anyone to call in with questions and answers on any subject.

SUCCESS IS HARD WORK IS REWARDING  ( use image of LeCrae)

There is nothing like a great example to highlight how getting into the charts can positively impact an artist’s career.  December 2012 ended on a genuine high note for hip hop/rapper, S.O., managed by Charisse Beaumont of Preacher Boy Music. Within a month of his album release, So It Continues reached #1 Amazon CCM Charts; #1 Amazon Praise & Worship; #3 Amazon Rap/Hip Hop Charts and, on iTunes charts, S.O. reached #5 in Canada and the US, and #9 in the UK.

S.O.’s climb up these charts brought him enough attention to be featured on the homepage of iTunes (US) – an exposure to millions of iTunes users.

S.O.’s chart success was not an accident.  It took planning, attention to detail and patience, and included timely PR & marketing.  He is featured in a current video with chart-topping compatriot, LeCrae, and advance plans are now in place for an album tour in April to reinforce the success of the singles and video release. I cannot overstate that PR and marketing are essential to attaining a chart presence.

Whereas registering your products with the appropriate music agencies is a must, any apathy following registration – without an intense PR & marketing plan – is likely to make your efforts worthless.

There is a saying, “Work smarter not harder”, but this hides the truth that an initial period of hard work has to be done: the hard work of setting up processes and systems that actually make achieving goals and measurements of success a lot easier. Once you have focused on being rights ready (registered your music properly), chart ready (logged into the various chart systems) and business ready (completed your record label setup and PR & marketing tools and strategy), then you can navigate your way to the success you deserve.

Juliet Fletcher is a former BBC Producer, founding Executive of the GMIA and Director of GreenTree, a specialist music consultancy and production company. For more details, visit www.gmia.org.uk or phone 020 3086 8348

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