Seems the folks in the Christian Music industry are surprised to find that fans are pirating their music just as much as fans of popular music do.
The findings were a jolt to many in the evangelical music industry, who expected churchgoing teens to be mindful of the commandment that states, “Thou shalt not steal.”
“I’m surprised and disappointed that the behavior isn’t that ardently different between Christians and non-Christians,” said John Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association, the leading trade group for evangelical music.
But not everybody thinks the pirating is a bad thing. After all, some church leaders say, isn’t getting the Gospel out more important than getting paid? How can it be wrong if it saves souls?
“That’s convoluted logic,” said Barry Landis, president of Word Records, a major Christian label. “You would never steal Bibles to give them away. You shouldn’t steal Christian music to give away either.”
Christian music is big business these days with last year seeing sales top $800 million, more than classical music and jazz combined, and people in the industry are trying to figure out how to address the issue of pirating music without creating the same sort of backlash that Metallica ended up dealing with when they spoke out against it.
“We can’t be like Christina Aguilera and get all attitudey,” said Jaci Velasquez, a platinum-selling singer. “We’re supposed to be like Christ and turn the other cheek.”
Like their secular counterparts, Christian-music executives say digital-music theft is hurting sales. But they’ve kept a low profile in the war being waged by the Recording Industry Association of America against piracy a fight that includes more than 1,000 suits against illegal downloaders. (The music industry said sales have improved in the first quarter of this year, in part because of its suits.)
Mainstream music companies see piracy as purely a legal issue, Styll said. The Christian industry frames the issue differently, even though its major labels are owned by mainstream companies.
“We take it further and say it’s a moral issue,” he said. “But we’re not going to sue people. It just doesn’t seem right. And nobody really has the will to do it.”
And so the industry is grappling with how to discourage piracy.
“It’s going to take an enormous educational effort,” said Landis of Word Records. “Maybe we’ve missed this generation. We all know they shouldn’t take the music. We all know they do. How do you put toothpaste back in the tube?”
The article goes on to talk about how many Christian teens don’t think they’re stealing and many do it as an easy and cheap way to witness to the Gospel. The irony involved in stealing Christian music to help spread Christian values is particularly amusing to me and I think it shows that simply getting your children to adopt a particular religion doesn’t guarantee they will absorb the morals that religion is supposed to promote.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Teaching of morals is something parents have to take responsibility for first and foremost. If you don’t take the time to teach your kids the values you feel are important then you shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t share those values like you expect them to. Packing them off to Sunday School and hanging a Ten Commandments in their classroom does little other than give you a false sense of having dealt with the issue. There are no shortcuts to teaching your kids the values you want them to honor. This is true regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof.