Were you ever a reader of CCM magazine? I was… sort of. I was more of a casual browser than a reader. For the uninitiated, CCM stands for “Contemporary Christian Music,” and CCM magazine was like the evangelical version of Rolling Stone. In the late 90’s when I was a student at DTS, there was one particular issue on the shelf at the DTS bookstore that caught my attention. The glossy cover featured my favorite group, Caedmon’s Call. Believe it or not, I was such a fan of the band that I actually signed-up for a one-year subscription to CCM. A more thoughtful person might have stopped to ponder that fact that subsequent issues probably wouldn’t be spotlighting my favorite group. I never read the magazines that I received in the mail, and I didn’t renew the subscription. I have long since considered the expense a bad decision. Such is life.
I recently found out that CCM magazine ceased publishing its print edition over a year ago. Talk about going out with a wimper. The magazine folded, and it seems to have gone largely unnoticed. After Salem Communications announced the demise of CCM, David Sessions of Patrol magazine wrote a post-mortem on the magazine. He wrote this,
‘If you visit the places where people should be reading CCM, Christian colleges campuses and church youth groups, you’re more likely to find copies of Paste or overhear references to Pitchfork Media, the same places their secular counterparts go for music information. And with the obvious fact that the middle-aged listeners of the few still-popular Christian bands like Casting Crowns aren’t the biggest readers of hip music rags, CCM faced a double-whammy: Christian artists don’t want any part of a separate “Christian music” industry, and young Christian fans aren’t primarily interested in the music that used to be called Christian rock. With both content and readers disappearing simultaneously, it was only a matter of time until the magazine would be forced to either transform completely or fold.’
Ouch. Sessions is right though. CCM went away because CCM has shriveled up. According to one industry insider, albums sales are about half of what they were 10 years ago. The market for it just isn’t there anymore. At the recent GMA week in Nashville, attendance was down by about 25 percent. By all accounts, the heyday of Contemporary Christian Music has come and gone. Has anyone noticed?