EJ Gaines from GospelPundit
As you all know, I’m always looking for ways to make this blog better and more interesting to you. So, I figured that as we continue our discussion of the music industry, it would be great to get the perspective of a music blogger. This week, I’m pleased to share my interview with EJ Gaines, the creator of GospelPundit.
In only 8 months, EJ has established GospelPundit as one of the leading gospel blogs today. When I first found the blog, I asked the same question that several of you may also ask – “What’s a pundit?” EJ answers that question by defining the term as “someone who offers to mass-media his/her opinion or commentary on a particular subject area, on which he/she is presumed to be knowledgeable.” He adds that “we are all pundits, or at least we’re going to be”. Well, after only a few minutes at GospelPundit, I realized that the content was simply too good to ignore. I also realized that I too am indeed a gospel pundit.
If you’re looking for anything related to gospel music – from artist interviews and album reviews to information about events, EJ has you covered. He even offers lots of cool discussion posts and surveys to keep you talking. I tell you, he really raises the bar for good blog content. EJ brings a wealth of experience to GospelPundit, as he has both a Music Business degree from NYU and law degree from St. John’s University. He has also worked with record labels and several artists. So, as you can see, EJ really knows all about gospel music and I was excited for the opportunity to interview him. He shared his experiences with GospelPundit, his thoughts about the music industry, and the artists that we should be looking for right now. Here’s the interview:
Mimi Soul: How did you get the idea to start GospelPundit?
EJ: God gave me the idea to create GospelPundit in response to what I perceived as a void in the gospel music industry. I loved the idea of some of the popular entertainment blogs because they are updated so regularly, and allow for great discussion among people. The problem with those blogs is that they don’t generally cover gospel music and they’re full of gossip. There are landmark gospel websites in existence, but the updates were not as frequent and I couldn’t really interact with people as easily. I wanted to visit a gospel music website that was updated several times each day, with breaking news, interesting info, and fun discussions, while remaining constructive and edifying. I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I created it for myself.
Mimi Soul: What’s the most rewarding part of doing your blog?
EJ: I’ve got two– I feel incredibly fulfilled when readers get excited about an artist or an album that they didn’t know anything about until they read about it at GospelPundit.com. I love that I can play a role in people’s appreciation of gospel music.
Second, I am humbled and honored when gospel artists– many of whom I’ve studied, followed or supported for years and years– tell me that they appreciate what I’m doing for them. The idea that I’m in some way reciprocating the blessing that I’ve received from these music ministers and recording artists… it’s a great feeling!
Mimi Soul: Your site has such good content, which is obviously a result of thorough preparation. Could you describe a typical workday?
EJ: Thank you. A typical workday is never typical! I start my days with prayer and time with God before brainstorming about what the content will look like each day. Sometimes, I’ve got something special already planned– like an interview or a guest blog entry from a gospel artist. More often than not, though, I’m reviewing press releases that I’ve received and checking my other sources for relevant news. There’s actually QUITE a bit happening in the gospel industry on a daily basis, so there’s plenty from which to choose.
During the day, I also try to listen to new music for album reviews, or check out aspiring artists hoping to get a feature on the site. On top of all of that, I try to respond to each email that I receive– some folks ask general questions about the gospel industry, others ask how we can partner in some way.
The key to all of it is being flexible. There are times that I might have an entire day’s content planned, but I receive news of someone’s passing, or someone calls wanting to give me an exclusive interview if I can be ready in 30 minutes, and all bets are off! I try to stay ready for anything and I aim to maintain balance between work and play each day.
Mimi Soul: I’m sure the experience of working with record labels and artists has given you a good understanding of the gospel music industry. How has your knowledge of the industry helped your blogging? What are some of the things you’d say most people don’t know about the music business?
EJ: I thank God for my experiences in the gospel industry, on both the business and creative sides of things. Those experiences have informed my blogging in that I feel a burden for the entire industry– from fans and consumers to artists and execs. I want us ALL to be better, so I gear my content accordingly.
I provide album reviews so that consumers can make educated purchasing choices and I talk about who’s collaborating with who on the hottest upcoming albums so that fans can stay connected. I may provide a series on A&R in the gospel industry so that aspiring industry execs can understand the changing climate of the business, or I’ll make sure that I get tips for aspiring artists in my interviews with gospel’s most successful artists.
As it concerns the music business, I think most people don’t have an accurate grasp of what actually takes place behind the scenes. And they think that they “get it” because of shows like Making The Band, Sunday Best or American Idol, which offer a glimpse into the making of an artist. But those shows will never explain to you why your favorite artist opted to release an album with 10 tracks instead of 17, they’ll never show you what recoupment really looks like, they’ll never present the image of an artist with a low budget that has to make artistic sacrifices just to get an album out. So, I think it’s not so much that people don’t know certain things about the industry– it’s that they think they DO know things, but don’t.
Mimi Soul: Which gospel artists should we be looking for right now?
EJ: This summer is seeing some great music from new and established artists alike. Right now, look for new music from Coko (The Winner In Me), Da’ T.R.U.T.H. (The Big Picture) and Melinda Watts (People Get Ready). In August, check out Vickie Winans (How I Got Over), Sheri Jones-Moffett (Renewed) and J Moss (Just James). In September, watch for JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise (Resting On His Promise) and, finally, the return of the legendary Fred Hammond (Love Unstoppable).
Thanks EJ for a great interview! I encourage you all to join me in adding GospelPundit to your list of blogs to follow. I’m certain that EJ will continue his delivery of timely content and interesting discussions for many years to come.