I would argue that there is. The alternative to the "ministry" view is that Christian musicians are Christians with musical abilities. Nothing more and nothing less. They compete in the marketplace with other people with musical abilities, some of whom are Christians and some of whom are not. However, (Christian Contemporary Music) CCM labels are at a distinct disadvantage in this competition. Their CDs sell for, on average, $15 - $16, while those of their competition (non-CCM labels, or, if you prefer, secular labels) sell for, on average, $12 - $13. How, then, do you convince the music-buying public to pay that extra $3 per CD?
I think you do it by promoting the uniqueness and the exclusive nature of Christian music. CCM musicians are more than Christians with guitars. They're ministers. They're annointed. They're called by God. They feature evangelistic messages designed to lead people to God (this despite the fact that the overwhelming evidence shows that it is Christians, not non-Christians, who listen to CCM). Furthermore, those musicians who don't record for CCM labels are *not* ministers. They may be Christians, but they haven't been zapped in the same way. This is the special "oooomph" that CCM needs to compete in the marketplace. Never mind that Brother X might be a brand new Christian who was signed because of his abilities to sing, play the guitar, and string together rhyming words like "loss" and "cross." If he records for Word or Myrrh then he's a minister.
How do you get people to buy this stuff? You simply tell them that the music is annointed. You emphasize the (false) dichotomy between "Christian" music and "worldly" music. You carefully control your product so that only overtly religious material or upbeat, wholesome material is released. You carefully control your artists so that they are presented as larger than life and Superstars of Holiness, and you ensure at all costs that their sins are kept hidden from their followers. And if one of them slips up and lets his sin become known, you have no choice but to boot him out of the club. How do you justify the extra $3. Simple. You tell people that they're not only getting music, but music from Giants of the Faith. And God help the poor wretch who doesn't live up to the image.
Apparently this was written awhile back, and since I don't listen to this sort of music, I have no idea about the pricese of CCM music relative to pop music. I did a search on Amazon and couldn't find anything conclusive on relative prices, so... anyhoo... according to economic theory, the last CCM CD cost and was valued at $3 more than the last pop CD. The question is "Why?" A few potential answers...
- There are fewer CCM musicians.
- There are more barriers to entry to the market ("...only overtly religious material or upbeat, wholesome material is released.")
- CCM musicians don't serve the same market and consumers of CCM music have a higher willingness to pay, all else equal, because the music gives them some kind of spiritual utility that pop music doesn't give its listeners.