Franklin, the Losing My Religion gospel artist who also heads his own Fo Yo Soul record label, appeared on fellow gospel recording artist Erica Campbell’s syndicated radio show “Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell” earlier this week along with Bishop Hezekiah Walker where the trio discussed the decline of gospel music.
While Campbell insisted that the industry could still thrive if musicians got creative, and Walker spoke out against the lack of integrity among some artists, Franklin revealed his fear that the industry could become obsolete.
“It’s not only a decline of the music but a decline of Jesus in the culture. Kids are not going to church and they’re not listening to the music anymore,” Franklin said. “So if music dies … See, my fear is, I don’t want gospel music to die like disco and rock ‘n’ roll. Nowhere in the Bible is God commanding us to do records.”
Even though Franklin won several awards this year, including a Grammy, for his 12th studio album Losing My Religion released late last year, he explained why he was hurting for others in the industry.
“I think one of the low points for me is to see a genre that I love so much struggle so hard. And I know that you’ve got to be careful because you don’t want people to feel like you’re whining and complaining,” he said. “But it is very real that when something gets hit hard that the thing at the bottom sometimes suffers the worst. Gospel music has really taken a hit as far as the industry.”
Still, Franklin wanted to make it clear that he is not strictly focused on sales.
“And again Saints, it’s not about the sales. It’s almost like with the job that you work at when you hear that your job is about to close down. … It’s like, man, what am I going to do?” he explained. “And then it hurts you more when you find out it closes down but then they took some people and put them in a nicer building.”
He brought up the fact that mainstream singer Adele was recognized this year after she sold 10 million albums.
“We’re not trying to compare ourselves to the world, we’re just asking you to put yourself in that position. It’s really painful to see,” he said. “It hurts me when I know my brothers and sisters are having such a hard time.”
Franklin is not the first person to publicly speak about the struggles of the gospel music industry. Earlier this year, gospel singer and producer Fred Hammond spoke to The Christian Post abot the struggles of trying to put together his Festival Of Praise 3 tour in a struggling industry.
“Gospel music has taken a turn and not in the flourishing direction. It’s taken a turn kind of headed toward a drought,” he told CP. “When you put a 52-city tour together, you have some moments where promoters are a little discouraged from doing things with gospel music because you can’t get the sales. It makes sense on paper, you think you can get it done, and then you don’t get support from the audience or from the buying public.”
However, gospel singer and producer VaShawn Mitchell had another perspective on the matter. When speaking to The Christian Post, Mitchell said that things are happening the way they should in the gospel music industry.
“I would look at it and say the gospel music industry is exactly where it’s supposed to be today. As we continue to change, we find success today is not what it was 10 years ago,” he said. “If success is selling a lot of records and that’s what our goal is, then that’s what we do. But if the success of it is making sure we try to put out great gospel music that is changing lives, then that’s what we do as well.”