Published September 3, 2013

Paul's Epistle...
"Special Concerns"

Something different this week. May I share with you today some concerns that I have?

The Gospel Greats program is supported primarily by the radio stations that carry the program and their sponsors or underwriters. But since 1986, an important factor in supporting the program has been proceeds from our mailorder service, Springside, which has long gone under the trademark slogan, "Your Source For Southern Gospel®." That comprises the two divisions of what we do. And, essentially, that's all we do.

The business side of the music industry has suffered greatly in recent years as the result of many factors, most related to the bad economic conditions of the past four years or so (which is when we began to notice a significant downturn) and clear indications that, given various government policies, it is not likely to get better any time soon.

Other issues unique to the music industry include the proliferation of illegal file sharing and downloading. These are drying up the life's-blood of the music industry. And Christian music — even Southern Gospel music — has not been immune to these destructive practices. (Christians, of all people, should know better than to steal music, which is exactly what is happening when someone buys a CD and copies it for friends or sends files of the songs to others. It is also what happens when someone posts purchased videos online for free viewing. Aside from being illegal, such practices deny the creators of this music their rightful income, and is in direct contradiction of Matthew 10:10, "for a worker is worthy of his food.")

When the topic comes up in casual conversation with artists, it seems unanimous that the poor economy is having a significant negative economic impact on their ministries. Artists rely on concert performance proceeds and product sales to survive in a time when much of their income is chewed up simply getting to their concert destinations and home again due to expensive fuel prices. It's no wonder some groups have reluctantly cut back or decided to get off the road entirely.

I say all of this for three reasons:

First, please help support traveling artists when they come to your area. (This also, of course, will help support your local promoter who has engaged the artists to come to your town, taking a significant financial risk in doing so.) Buy at least one or more CD or DVD from the groups. Many rely on such product sales for their diesel fuel. These recordings will be a continuing blessing for you.

Second, for the broadest selection available of Southern Gospel recordings (CDs and DVDs), please visit our website, We have recently added an entirely new tier of artists in our webstore who are waiting for you to discover them. All of your current favorites are there, too. We also have a brand new edition of our printed catalog available, covering today's best-known artists. If you are not on our mailing list but would want one, just let us know (by calling 1-800-38-MUSIC or requesting one through our website). Springside provides the largest selection of current Southern Gospel music items that you will find in one place (because we specialize only in Southern Gospel). As mentioned above, Springside sales are an important part of keeping our efforts alive.

Third, please encourage your local station that carries The Gospel Greats program by telling them you enjoy the program and listen regularly (which I hope you do). If they have local sponsors for the program, please tell those sponsors directly that you appreciate their sponsorship of the program. If it is a listener-supported station, please contribute to the station, perhaps earmarking your contribution for support of The Gospel Greats program. If you know of potential local sponsors for the program, please contact the sponsor and then let your local station know that this sponsor is willing to help sponsor TGG locally. This will help more than you could imagine.

Stations are constantly re-evaluating their programming, so regular encouragement regarding TGG is very important. And because stations are also facing economic problems, this has never been more important than now. If there is no local station in your area carrying TGG, the availability of a local sponsor could make it possible to get the program on the air so that others may hear the music, too. The music – and the broadcast – are, after all, an outreach for the Gospel. (If you need help in this, Shelia can provide suggestions.)

We are certainly not immune to the difficult times mentioned above, so your support for what we do — and for Southern Gospel music in general — is more important (even urgent) than ever. This is, frankly, our livlihood.

We are blessed today with so many songwriters who are providing the strongest message songs ever. And I believe most of today's Southern Gospel artists are increasingly aware of the urgency of the mission that God has given them to spread the Gospel effectively through song. As I say on the program, Southern Gospel music is comprised of "the greatest songs about the greatest message, the Gospel."

Please remember us in your prayers so that we can continue to serve. And may God continue to bless you through good Southern Gospel music and in all you do for Him.

- Paul

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