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Seattle megachurch Mars Hill launches music label

The band Citizens is among the groups set to release music on the new Mars Hill Music label. (Mars Hill Music photo)


The band Citizens is among the groups set to
release music on the new Mars Hill Music label.
(Mars Hill Music photo)

Seattle-based megachurch Mars Hill is considered by some
the punk rock of Christian congregations. And now the
fast growing organization is launching a new music label
to spread the word and attract even more followers to its
ever growing flock.

With everything from roots rock to rap regularly being
made at its 14 locations spanning four states, Mars Hill
Music manager Jonathon Dunn says the goal is to capture
the diverse offerings and share the gospel through music.

“The record label is focused on what’s going on at our
local churches. Each one is uniquely different, different
based on the cities and communities and cultures they’re
engaged with,” Dunn says.

Unlike other start up music endeavors, the label has a
built in audience. Podcasts of Mars Hill Pastor Mark
Driscoll’s sermons were downloaded more that 10 million
times last year and consistently rank number 1 on iTunes, the
church claims.

“It seems like a lot of the worship culture that already
exists out there in the Christian market has been hitting
a very specific group and what we’d like to do in some
ways is broaden that,” says Zach Bolen, worship director
at Mars Hill’s University District church and leader of
the band Citizens.

>>Listen to the band Citizens

Bolen’s band will be the first to release a full length
album on the new label, with several EP’s from various
bands already available.

The offerings are as diverse as
the churches, known for attracting younger, “hipper”
followers. There’s everything from indie pop to Motown.
Citizens plays what Bolen calls more “blue-collar indie

“We want to be able to fit into as many groups as
possible. We don’t want to alienate ourselves in any way,
and so accessibility is huge. So especially with Citizens
we’re trying to do music that dudes would like,” Bolen

It could be big business for the church that boasts
upwards of 14,000 followers in Western Washington,
Portland, Orange County, California and Albuquerque, New
Mexico. Christian music was the second highest selling
category in 2011, according to The Nielsen Company &
Billboard’s 2011 Music Industry Report.

And label head Dunn says while the target is Christian
audiences, the goal is to reach well beyond that.

“We really just want to share music with everyone who
enjoys music, and share the gospel through that, and not
just be pigeonholed into a Christian cul-de-sac of
influence. So I’d love to see the expanse go far beyond
just Christian radio,” Dunn says.

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