Sustainability in Christian EDM

In 1992, on the way back from a youth skiing trip, a friend of mine slid a tape called Jyradelix into the church bus’s tape deck. From that tape, I heard techno for the very first time. I was also hooked on it. It was also Christian. After that, I couldn’t find enough electronica. Fortunately, that was start of Christian electronica. Well… maybe not the start, but that is when it started to rise and take shape into something that the Christian Booksellers Association took note of and stocked on regular basis thanks to the efforts of Michael Sean Black, Scott Blackwell and Diamanté Distribution.

Twenty Years Later…

Fast forward to 2012, it’s been 20 years since that first album from mYx Records. Today, you couldn’t find a Christian EDM release at a US Christian retailer if you tried. Ok, that’s not 100% true. You might find one of Andy Hunter’s CDs in the bargain bin. The truth is though that the Christian market for EDM has drastically shifted in much the same way that Christian rock has. Bands today do not have to be distributed in only Christian stores. The Christian market has been separated from the music in many cases. Top that with a willingness of the secular industry openly accepting Christian acts today and the secular market embracing much of it as quality music.

This traditional Christian ideal of having a section dedicated to your favorite genre of music in your favorite Christian store is still nice, but no longer valid. This has become doubled true with the advent of iTunes, Beatport and even Amazon. The major retailers tend to classify music as either Christian or EDM, but not both. This sub genre of a sub genre classification model isn’t financially worth the information architecture nightmare that accounting for it would create. And so the model overall has shifted so Christians EDM producers must compete in the secular industry if they want to make anything of themselves and I’m not just talking turning a profit here.

The fact of the matter here is that the Christian only market totally collapsed between 1998 and 2002. What was once found even in small towns like Wilmar, MN is no longer there. What is interesting today is that there are people in the Christian EDM community who missed out on the success of the 1990’s. They don’t know that EDM used to be in all the hip and even not-hip Christian retailers. And that is what this article is about in a way. How can we build on our accomplishments, not just try to recreate what we have forgotten has already happened and then… Build it in such a way that in 20 years, we aren’t looking back and having this same conversation. In other words, we need sustainability!

The Sustainability Plan

I think most of us know what sustainability means, but let me be specific. The type of sustainability I’m talking about here is one in which as one generation moves onto other phases in their lives, the next generation is already trained up and moving into leadership roles within the community. Much like how 2012 marks this transition with the Cornerstone Music Festival where John Herrin, the director for so many years, has stepped down from that position and Genesis Winter has taken over.

In order for this to happen, we need those of us with experience to share that knowledge here. We need those new to this community to find those old members and ask how things should be done. We all need to become mentors of one another and not be focused just on ourselves and our personal careers. Labels, communities and events require teamwork or they don’t happen. The also take a bit of wisdom too.

So, I would like to make this our goal over the next few months. Let’s start a series of articles about starting labels, communities and events that are sustainable. We will start out by tackling events as that almost always a hot button topic and one of the hardest to pull of in such a way that you even get a chance at having a second event.

If you would like to contribute either a article to this or an example, please contact me and let me know. The more people with experienced input, the better.

Until next time… I’m out.

Dave Richards has been producing a mixture of tribal, tech and progressive music for about ten years now. He has had releases on Next Dimension Music, PWM Records, Deeplife Records and more. In 2002, he became the owner of and since then has developed the site’s name and favorable reputation across both the Christian and secular scenes. Currently, Dave works as the label manager with his partner in crime Kevin Oneel at MK837. World domination through “Jelly Doughnut” diplomacy is sure to follow.

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  • deeflash

    good start! I’m excited to see where this leads…

  • xen-ochren

    I love this!!!

  • Pete Le Freq

    Once work sorts itself out, Ill get chatting to Joel about How not to run a label Pt2……

    • Josiah-Fingaz

      Looking forward to the sequel!

  • Josiah-Fingaz

    God says that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. We need to have a multi-generational mindset. God does. I’m in full agreement of building with the next generations in mind.  I think it will make us ask the right questions about what we are doing therefore causing us to build with a purpose that extends past us. Sounds like something Jesus would have us do.