For years now some of us have been agitating for a change in the way "Christian music" did its business.
Today, we're surprised but pleased to see so many bands with Christian roots making such strong headway into the mainstream of American cultural life. In one recent week, Underoath sold 97,000 units of its record, making it the No. 2 album in the country. Bands like Switchfoot, P.O.D., The Fray, and many others are now regulars in the mainstream scene.
And now Mute Math is on the way, but not without problems—starting with its own record company. The alternative rock band, which started out as Earthsuit, used to be with Sparrow Records, a Christian music label (now EMI/CMG). Realizing that Sparrow would give them little access to the mainstream, the band re-formed as Mute Math and signed with Warner Bros. in an attempt to have more impact on the culture at large.
But then came a bump in the road: Warner also owns the CCM label Word, which began marketing Mute Math as a "Christian band"—a designation that effectively tells the wider culture "this band is for Christians and not for you."
Mute Math fought back—with a lawsuit. Even though the band's members are Christians, they didn't want to be marketed that way. I don't blame them, but some people do—including Christianity Today's Rob Moll, who recently wrote that he finds it "hard to respect" Christian artists who are "spurning the industry that gave them their start."
Such reactions are misguided. Instead of blaming the artists who are trying to impact the cultural mainstream, some CCM executives, who seem unwilling or unable to help these artists reach their goals, shoulder some of the blame for holding them back.
And Mute Math is trying to do just ...1