It has been a yearly tradition for my family to go to one of the biggest Christian Music Festivals in the United States, Kingdom Bound, and this year was no different. We pack up all 16 of us (my 9 kids invite along their friends to bump up the numbers) and go for 5 days of rides and the best in Christian music.
This year, however, there was a marked change in the atmosphere. Attendance appeared to be down significantly. Some of the stages were shrunk significantly from the past Now, one can blame some of this on the state of the economy but I believe there may be another factor at play here.
I observed that many of the artists playing the main stages were pretty much the same artists that had been appearing since I started going to this festival almost 15 years ago. Toby Mac, Third Day, Phil Keaggy and even Switchfoot are examples of such acts. Even Matt Maher and David Crowder, two of the newer acts I saw, have been in the music industry for some time now. They all put on great performances, especially Phil Keaggy who put on display why he is considered by Guitar Magazine to be one of the top acoustic guitarists ever. However, there was no sense of excitement or discovery which is really is what is needed to keep the momentum with the younger audience.
It is my hope that the Christian record companies and radio stations will start taking a risk on independent acts, and that these festivals will start to give a voice to new and upcoming acts. Otherwise, my fear is that the Christian music industry will start to fade into irrelevance in contemporary culture.