Very shortly my YouTube (YT) channel will register its 3,000,000th viewing. While in the world of YT this is still pretty small, in my particular niche (Christian Hymnody) it is pretty respectable. But that is not why I am writing today. As I dug into my analytics (various YT statistics) I found some data points which I found extremely encouraging. Since many of us spend a lot of time in the trenches fighting against the seemingly never ending onslaught of bad church music, I think it can be helpful to take a step back and see if we can understand what is happening in the larger world.I have recorded well over 2800 hymns (along with 60 solo piano works) on my YT channel. It began as a gift to my parents and grew beyond that quickly. I have recorded 6 complete hymnals across a wide variety of Protestant traditions covering many of the hymns common to nearly all Christian traditions.
Without getting too far into the deep weeds of YT analytics there are two sets of statistics I found both surprising and very encouraging.
One would think the demographics of a channel which focused so strongly on historic Christian hymns would have a demographic which skewed strongly to the, shall we say, older crowd. Nothing could be further from the truth! Yes, the largest demographic of YT is male between 18 and 34 years of age, but if there ever was a niche which should NOT be strong in this demographic, you would think it would be my channel. But here is what has happened in order of size as a percentage of overall traffic for the top 10 groups:
- Male 25 – 34 16%
- Male 35 – 44 10%
- Male 18 – 24 10%
- Female 25 – 34 8.3%
- Male 55 – 64 8.3%
- Male 45 – 54 2%
- Female 18 – 24 2%
- Male 65+ 7%
- Female 35-44 1%
- Female 45-54 5.4%
The 25 – 34, both sex demographic accounts for nearly 25% of the total watch time on the channel.
While it seems to go against the nearly obsessive abandonment by church leadership of historic hymnody, clearly the demographic most coveted by leadership has a strong interest in something which is not their parent’s music.
Which brings us to the second set of statistics which I think is by far the most important thing I have found so far. YT has an algorithm driven search engine, just like their parent company Alphabet (Google). They try to predict what you might want to watch next and so they populate your suggested video list based upon both what people like you and you have viewed in the past. For most channels it is not uncommon to see the source of traffic for their channels from “suggested videos” to be in the +/-40% range. Categories such as search are often in the single digits. Combining the totals for “search” from YT searches and Google and other search engine searches on my channel I found about 50% of the traffic on my channel to be from direct searches! The young people are directly searching for these titles! They are not being spoon fed them from suggestions, they are going out and purposefully looking for these hymns.
Despite the best efforts of the Worship Industrial Complex, young people across the world (112 countries) are actively searching out and listening to historic Christian hymns in at a staggering level. I would imagine if you could for just a second separate the under 35 year olds in your church from the pop music oriented leadership, you would find a very grateful and interested audience.
We are at a disadvantage from the decades long gap in the historic continuity of Christian music, however, I think the student is eager to learn and is actively searching out the knowledge already. To help with this education, I will be starting a hymn-a-day blog post on AndrewRemillard.com. I will be providing historic background and theological perspectives on a new hymn every day (at least I am hoping to do this!). Feel free to visit and share your thoughts. And above all else, take courage, there is a remnant who has a real hunger for the best music not the worst music from our shared history.