So, Kirk Franklin, arguably one of the most notable and recognizable figures in the genre, is where this all started (full disclosure, he is a client). And as I began the process of reaching out to my online buyers, magazine buyers and brands, I was stonedwalled! Too small a market, they said. Too clean, they said. No there, there, they said. Who would want to watch that, they said. So, I started digging and here is what I found:
According to most recent estimates from the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth, there were 36 million blacks in America, and their buying power has risen substantially, from $318 billion in 1990 to, in most recent figures, $723 billion.
It is estimated that 53% of African Americans regularly attend church, according to a 2002 study by religion research firm Barna Group Ltd., which is one percentage point higher than that of the national average.
Although only about 15% of blacks tune in to gospel stations, among those listeners, more than 70% own their own homes and 17% have household income of more than $75,000. (Interep National Radio Sales Inc.)
African American gospel music stars sold about $140 million worth of CDs in 2005. (RIAA)
Marc Perry, a Ford multicultural marketing manager, was quoted as saying, "Many African Americans consider faith an integral part of their lives. These are people that fit our target demographic really well in terms of income, age and lifestyle."
Venture capital firms that have invested in Christian and gospel businesses: Bear Stearns' Constellation Ventures Management LLC, Alpine Equity Partners LP and InterMedia Partners.
So, the obvious question I have is this: at what point does a "niche" audience become attractive? Now, this isn't so much about Kirk Franklin as is it about the perception of value both online, and on networks that niche audiences don't count. And please don't misunderstand me, I get the Sci Fi Channel and Food Networks as speaking to the niche, what I am trying to say is that perhaps our perception of niche is construed. But maybe, just maybe, mass is the new niche.