EXPLORING TRENDS IN THE CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY By Beau Black WHAT’S NEXT Singer/songwriter/videographer Dave Barnes begins our phone interview claiming that he’s “just living the thug life.” However dubious his street cred, there’s little doubt he’s poised for ‘What’s Next.’ For Barnes, whose single “God Gave Me You” ought to yield his fi rst multi-format radio hit, the crossover, foot-in- both-worlds career that many artists chase after just sort of happened. “Bebo Norman was a huge reason I started playing music,” he says, noting that Bebo-affi liate Ed Cash produced several of his records, including his newest. But John Mayer was another early Dave Barnes fan, and he (Barnes) found a career path somewhere between the two. He’s signed to mainstream indie label Razor & Tie but is managed by Nashville-based Dryve, which primarily represents Christian acts (TFK, Derek Webb, downhere). All part of his plan? “I didn’t really think about it,” he says. “What I’ve done is just respond—let the Lord lead, and when He opens a door, walk though it. I play bars and clubs because that’s where I’ve always played,” he says. “The beauty of today’s music market is that you can do both.” Barnes has gotten mainstream spins for “Until You” and “On A Night Like This” (the latter was featured in Amanda Bynes’ What I Like About You), but his current single is his fi rst hit on the Christian side. Now, he says, “there’s not such a moniker stuck on things. In the last ten years, [artists like] Mat Kearney, Switchfoot, The Fray and P.O.D. have traversed both worlds. It’s a fun season for me because people are open to good music. A lot of my friends are in the same boat I am—great artists in Nashville who are believers and tend to play more mainstream venues or do more mainstream records but have a lot of things to offer to the Christian world.” Though some of Barnes’ songs are explicitly faith- oriented, is his music ‘Christian enough’ to play in churches? “Does it have a Christian worldview? Yes. I try not to write a lyric that contradicts Scripture, and not just for fans—for me. I kind of have to do the same for the Dave Barnes’ Thug Life Singer-songwriter Dave Barnes says that “a large part of why I do music now is to do Mocha Club.” The premise behind his charity-of-choice is only indirectly related to caffeine addiction: give up two lattes’ worth of cash a month, and do something to make the world a bit better. “You join for $7 a month and can choose between projects we work on, [like] the Village of Hope in northern Uganda, for women who used to be in sex traffi cking,” Barnes says. Other projects include supplying clean water, combating HIV, and providing learn-to-earn programs. Barnes is one of several artists involved, among ‘em Lady Antebellum, Matt Wertz, Hawk Nelson and Sanctus Real. “We talk about it at shows, and you can go after and join,” similar to the pitches artists make for Compassion or World Vision. “All of the money goes to these projects. I’ve been three times now in the last six years to Africa to see what we’ve done. It’s life changing stuff.” To join Dave Barnes in supporting Orphan Care and Vulnerable Children projects in Africa, go to www.mochaclub.org/sponsor/davebarnes. mainstream: I don’t want my music to be delineating—to be so Bible-thumping that people who don’t know the Lord will be pushed away. It’s a very fi ne line to write that way, but I like that challenge.” “What I’ve done is just respond—let the Lord lead, and when He opens a door, walk though it.” – Dave Barnes 52 CCM