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Founder, UKG/ UKGospel.com group of sites.
I really didn't want my picture here, but I'm bowing to pressure.
Freelance journalist, all-round nice guy.
Has a weird obsession with international gospel music.
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A Step FWD Launches its UK Top 10 Christian and Gospel Chart
On the 13th of December 2013 I attended a meeting that was essentially
a pre-launch briefing session for the latest independent chart for the
UK 'Gospel' and 'Christian' music scene.
It's set up by A Step FWD (itself launched in March 2013), and is the latest in a long line of chart initiatives attempted by different outfits over the years. In fact the UKGospel.com team even dabbled with trying it in 2010.
By the time you read this A Step FWD will be getting ready to publish the first chart for 2014 at the end of January...
There are countless reasons why the development of
a chart is good for us. That is, until someone actually
tries to do it.
Once that happens the universal acceptance of said chart
- especially in an independent, hyper-niche sector with so
many opinions regarding what it should actually look like - is
always going to be influenced (maybe the word I should use
should be 'fraught') by a whole set of interesting factors.
And while this article is inspired by A Step FWD's admirable attempt to bring a credible chart to the scene, there's benefit in pointing out a few (most likely self-evident) facts by way of background.
For a chart to succeed, quite a few key elements need to line up. Here are some, in no particular order:
An obvious but critical requirement. The good news here is we've never had a problem with frequency or volume of releases, so - assuming A Step FWD have done their homework - this will be one of the lesser challenges they'll face.
The need for a strong education campaign shouldn't be underestimated. Over the years many deserving projects have fallen by the wayside simply because not enough people knew about them to effectively engage, participate and contribute.
Then there's that thorny little issue of credibility: for better or worse people respond better if they feel a project is endorsed by (or at least has the support of) people, platforms and organisations that they know, respect and trust. A Step FWD is going to need buy-in from a whole range of people on this one. More on that in a bit.
The great mountain of apathy will also need to be scaled. In many respects it's either the high visionary or the very foolhardy that looks to launch a chart at this point in time. Broadly speaking it can be successfully argued that on the whole people are not as bothered about charts as they were as recently as 3 years ago.
And there's good reason for that: these days you can connect directly with your favourite artists, brands or content via platforms like official (and unofficial) websites, not to mention ubiquitous social network options.
Using a chart as barometer for sourcing music, new trends and new artists is becoming less relevant as people have more choice than ever before on how to get music, and - even more importantly - music that's directly relevant to them.
Besides, all the new (and even old) music you could ever want is just a search engine away. In this context, having a chart as some sort of reference point is only mildly useful at best.
And let's not forget: UK Gospel already has an
The Official Christian and Gospel chart was
launched in 2012 and has the backing of a host
of official bodies including the UK's biggest Christan labels, Compassion UK and even UK Gospel's industry body, the Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA).
And - not to put too fine a point on it - the Official Chart has gone down like a lead balloon as far as response within the broader UK Gospel scene is concerned. Personally I can't say I'm surprised. But that's a thought for another day...
Some also question the ostensibly anti-Christian, built-in competitive and self-promotional elements of processes like charts. Awards ceremonies come in for the same type of criticism too. I think it's an interesting point, but one too complex to unpack in a sentence or two in a piece like this.
A Good Time to Chart?
So, it begs the question: why does A Step FWD think now is a good time to put this chart out there?
The questions were answered impressively and technically at the launch, as
Published 25 January 2014
and the UKG Group of sites.
That's really all I have to say...
See the rest of the UKGospel.com Team
Members of the A Step FWD team (photo: Clever Lens Media)