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Gospel labels praying for retail intervention

The emergence of gospel music, the misperception of its lyrical content and the reluctance by retailers to support the genre were among the topics discussed during “Gospel Music: It’s Not Just for Sundays Anymore.”

The seminar was part of the 35th annual National Assn. of Recording Merchants confab.

“People often associate gospel music with overt (worship) lyrics or confuse it with the type of gospel music sung primarily in black churches on Sunday. It’s much more than that,” according to Bruce Koblish, executive director of the Gospel Music Assn.

According to a Gallup Organization survey commissioned by the National Christian Music Research Project, 23 million people bought gospel albums in 1992 , while 56 million people attended gospel concerts. The average attendance of 16 ,000 at these concerts helped rank gospel tours in the top 10 of all touring acts.

Most gospel albums are purchased at Christian bookstores(39%); purchases from record stores only reached 24% in 1992.

Barry Landis, promotions/marketing VP for Warner Alliance Records, blames the lack of interest in carrying gospel titles to a perception by retailers that gospel is not a viable seller of product.

Terry Hemmings, president/CEO of Reunion Entertainment Group, agreed. “It’s the chicken-and-the-egg syndrome,” Hemmings said. “We can’t get retail (to support) without sales; we can’t get sales without retail putting these records (displayed) up front, so they’ll move out the door.”

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