Promoting Outside The Bubble

Promoting Outside The Bubble

Whether we want to admit it or not (and some of us definitely don’t), southern gospel music is not what could be considered a “large” genre. We really are a bubble in which we enjoy, recognize, and promote our music. Our artists may be well-known within our circles, but move outside this SG bubble, and they’re not necessarily recognizable for the most part.

For example, most SG folks at least recognize the names Elton John, Michael Jackson, or Madonna, even if they’ve never listened to a single note they’ve performed. I’d even venture to say that a large chunk of southern gospel fans could at least name one member of the Beatles. Flip that, however, and I doubt most mainstream music fans have ever heard of the Speer Family or the Statesmen, let alone be able to name individual members.

This can become quite the obstacle when trying to promote SG music to a non-SG audience (even Christian audiences). Case in point: one SG promoter recently took to a modern worship leader Facebook group to promote upcoming concerts featuring three nationally-touring gospel quartets. Their post included the phrase, “Look who’s coming,” to their church, attempting to drum up excitement over the names they had booked.

The first comment below the post (and I quote): “Am I supposed to know who these people are?” Keep in mind, this comment came from a church worship leader.

The promoter seemed a bit insulted at the comment before proceeding to explain that these names are actually “well known known in the…area. Maybe not your exact genre but are widely known in many churches.”

My first thought was, if you have to explain who someone is in order to promote your concert, maybe you’re not promoting in the right areas, or at the very least, should include that information in your original post. Secondly, I would question the phrase “well known,” as they obviously are not as well known as you had originally thought or claimed.

That’s not to say that you can’t promote to non-southern gospel audiences. It can be done in a number of ways; the point that the worship leader was trying to make (albeit without much tact) was that you can’t promote something as if it’s well known and expect people to know what you’re talking about.

This is moreso an indicator as to how small our genre really is compared to even other Christian genres. If music leaders in our churches have no idea who two or three currently-touring quartets are, then how good of a job are we really doing of promoting our music outside of our little bubble?

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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4 Comments

  1. Reply June 25, 16:15 #1 Darrell

    Good article, Kyle. Just a couple of weeks ago I went to hear the Bowling Family, as they were in concert locally. That rarely happens, since I live in Northern VA. I was trying to explain to a gal at work who I was going to hear and she had no idea who I was talking about. “Oh, I’m not familiar with Southern Gospel groups” was her reply. So yes, SG is a unique niche in the music industry. And I’m not sure what would have to change in order to make some of the top tier groups more recognizable to “outsiders”.

    Interesting side story that contradicts what I just said: If anybody is familiar at all with Seventh Day Slumber, you know their style is far from SG. Anyway, they are going to be playing at an outdoor event geared towards youth and young adults somewhere in West Virginia the end of this week. It’s one of those all day events with multiple bands and speakers and SDS is the headliner. Amazingly, one of the groups on the schedule is the Mercy River Quartet. Not sure how they made their way into this event, but good for them. Hopefully they can lay some serious southern gospel male 4-part harmony on those kids and get some of them interested in the music. :-)

  2. Reply June 26, 02:19 #2 Kenny Payne

    Unfortunately this is all to true. When I was with the Weatherfords we had a good friend that lived in our area of Oklahoma. We were telling him that we were headed to Indiana to do the Bill Gaither videos. He said ” Who is Bill Gaither and why can’t he come here”? Music directors these days are happy in their own little P&W world and have no idea that other styles of gospel music exists. What is the SG world missing here that would help promote the groups that are out here? We have some pretty good groups out here still but not with the notoriety of say Cathedrals, Stamps, Goodmans and so on.

  3. Reply June 26, 11:05 #3 Daniel h

    “Hide it under a bushel no! I’m gonna let it shine.” I don’t wear many T-shirt’s but I really liked the design of the Memphis Quartet Show shirt. Lots of groups seem to be stepping up their shirts and merch designs (either it looks cooler than it used to or my sense of cool has changed.) It’s worth investing in for more than the value for the group’s pocket.

    Good lyrics are plentiful in SoGo and some Facebook pages like NQC have shared awesome videos. When I share a video, I like to find a line that’s meaningful to “hook” someone in to listen. Doesn’t take a whole sermon to overwhelm someone to scroll on by, just a line to draw interest.

    Just a couple ideas to brainstorm

  4. Reply June 26, 11:47 #4 Darrell

    One singer who the SG world has claimed as their own that has (in my mind) had crossover success would be Jason Crabb. I wonder what sets him apart from other SG artists. His style? Marketing? Who knows…..

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