Gospel Rises Again

These soul-filled sounds aren't only lifting up spirits, they're raising new business opportunities

listeners than among the general African American population. Few promotes these stats to get corporate America listening.

While gospel music is becoming a popular marketing vehicle, companies must consider that they are targeting consumers who have a very definite moral code, and who believe strongly in community involvement and uplift. Few encourages her corporate clients to go beyond sponsoring tours or making commercials if they want to successfully reach their audience.

It was this approach Few took in developing Church’s Chicken and Revlon’s gospel marketing strategies. Church’s initially recorded a radio spot with Franklin. It received such positive response that the company asked Franklin to record a television commercial and two public service announcements for their “Day of Dreams” campaign to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

Few pushed the relationship a step further and suggested that Church’s work out a franchise deal with Franklin for a restaurant in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area that would be dedicated to hiring and training youth. It was an idea that went over big with franchise executives, who ultimately signed a letter of intent with Franklin to develop 15 franchises, with the first three restaurants to open in Texas by year’s end.

Few’s work with Revlon has aligned that company’s Creme of Nature HerbaRich product line with a broad range of gospel events. “We wanted to tap into the affluent female African American market,” explains Revlon’s vice president of ethnic marketing, Maria Jones.

Few admits that her decision to focus on gospel marketing has forced her to carefully consider the other kinds of accounts her company accepts. She adds, however, that the choice has been more blessing than sacrifice. “Our plates are full. We still will deal with R&B and pop [vehicles], but they have to be positive.”

Resources for Gospel Entrepreneurs
While the gospel music industry can be exciting and fulfilling, it also requires entrepreneurs to balance both the exploitative nature of the music industry and the moral dictates of a spiritually based audience. “You have to remember that today’s market is driven as much by the church as it is by the music industry,” explains Billboard magazine gospel columnist Lisa Collins, who also publishes the annual resource book Gospel Music Industry Round-Up and L.A. Focus on the Word newspaper. “People in gospel are concerned about your motives. They want to know you’re not coming in to rape the industry.”

Colins advises that you develop strong ties with the gospel community and those in gospel music. In addition, you should do your homework and be as well versed in the culture and grassroots network of the black church and the gospel community as you are in the workings of the music industry. Ministers, church musical directors, church bookstores and annual conferences represent some of the support systems, informational sources and marketing opportunities for gospel music entrepreneurs.

The following is a list of resources that may be useful if you’re interested in launching businesses related to the gospel music industry.

Gospel Music Industry Round-Up. The bible of the gospel industry, this annual resource book lists

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