“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” ~Pearl Buck
Complete panic. People are downloading and not buying music, record labels are closing and even radio is seeing their listeners wander away from their favorite FM stations for YouTube or Pandora. The music world is ending, as we know it. You may be thinking, “OK Mr. Smarty pants, what’s the answer to the music world’s problems?” Two words: Bill Gaither.
For those of you who may not follow Southern Gospel you may be in the dark. Let me fill you in on a man who may very well rival P-Diddy and he did it with little to no radio!
Bill Gaither is a songwriter, performer, label owner and entrepreneur.
Gaither's Homecoming tours, which started in 1991, brought together major stars of the southern gospel and CCM industry, sparking a revival of the genres. The tours have sold more than 1.1 million tickets across the world and have included such notable venues as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Pollstar listed the tour as selling more tickets in 2004 than Elton John, Fleetwood Mac or Rod Stewart.
Quick rundown on his major achievements
▪ Among the top 75 American entrepreneurs: Entrepreneur Magazine
▪ Grammy Awards in 1973, 1975, 1991, 1999, 2009; additional nominations in 1969, 1974, 1984 (x2), 1987, 1993, 1997, 1998
▪ Dove Awards in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974 (x2), 1975, 1976 (x2), 1977 (x2), 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 (x3), 1995, 1999 (x2), 2000.
▪ Multi-platinum albums: 2. Platinum albums: 22. Gold albums: 21.
Here’s my point.
The future of the music industry is utterly and completely about niche marketing and Bill is the perfect example. He knew that his fans were older Christian folks. He went to where they already were. (Look around the Cracker Barrel restaurant store sometime) He connected with them on a emotional level and he never ever strays from his Gaither brand. But most importantly he gave a select group of people that nobody cared about exactly what they wanted...constantly and continually. Since 1991 Bill has released One hundred and eleven different “Homecoming” DVD’s! Understand that’s not including any of his bazillion (yes I know that’s not a real number!) CD’s. So why are they so successful? Simple. Bill makes the emotional connection and his fans feel like he’s a good friend from just down the street.
Do yourself a favor and don’t be to cool!
Isn’t it amazing that one of the “oldest” and most “dated” genres would be the prime example to show us the future! Go check out Bill’s empire and I promise you, musicians, if you aren’t to cool to learn from him, Bill might just be the one to take you down memory lane and show you the way to the future.