In 2021, six curious people, with various academic, pastoral, and music industry backgrounds, met to frame two main questions. Firstly, we asked, “What can be said about the volume of popular worship music Christians are singing today?” Secondly, we wondered, “What are the attitudes of worship leaders toward this same music and the people that produce it?” The group had acquired a complete list of CCLI’s Top 100 songs, dating back to 1989 (i.e. 64 Top 100 lists, in total), and the Praise Charts Top 100 (or in some cases only Top 77), back to 2010. We considered how to use this valuable data to serve the Church. With a view toward analyzing behavioural trends around new music, in particular, we focused only on songs which were released between 2010 and 2020.
SONG VOLUME AND AFFILIATION
It was decided that assessing song volume and affiliations, dating back to 2010, would provide an adequate and comparable evaluation of the current and most recent Christian worship music landscape. To minimize limitations associated with data retrieval, the CCLI song lists, from 2010-2020 (i.e. up to the global-altering COVID-19 pandemic), were cross-referenced with similarly published lists from Praise Charts. By cross-referencing the most popular songs (i.e. 182 songs on the CCLI lists and 157 on the Praise Charts lists) across these two highly used Christian worship music platforms, 107 songs were common to both lists and would supply the corpus for this study.
Next, attempts were made to confirm the affiliations of the songwriters associated with these songs. In some cases, affiliations to various entities were clear and explicit. In other cases, admittedly, some group decisions had to be made based on the diligent pursuit of a song’s unique history. With major affiliations determined, the decisive step was to find the i) total number of songs and singles written, produced, released, and on our list by each affiliate, ii) total number of songs and singles written, produced, released, and not on our list by each affiliate, and iii) total percentage of songs and singles written, produced, released, and on our list (in comparison to those not on our list).