Independent artists like Montell Fish have found success on social media platforms rather than traditional labels.
Montell Fish is a Christian musician whose songs took off with tens of millions of streams. But unlike artists who have risen through the ranks of CCM, his main platform isn't a worship stage.
The 24-year-old artist went viral on TikTok from his bedroom, where he recorded himself, wearing a T-shirt and black bandana, playing the guitar, and singing in falsetto, “Why don’t you talk to me like you used to?”
His calming, “lo-fi” (low-fidelity) music stands in stark contrast with the high production value of today’s top worship bands. In a world that increasingly defies labels and genre, Fish represents a slew of indie faith-based artists who are finding success on platforms like TikTok and skipping the format and industry contemporary Christian music CCM was long built upon.
For these artists, independence from the traditional constraints of the music industry means greater freedom to explore—and redefine—what it means to be a successful “Christian” artist. With this freedom, though, comes greater responsibility for artists over their career direction and renders other essential parts like financial sustainability more unstable.
Previously known as one of the artists behind the music project Lord’s Child and a YouTuber who uploaded videos like “3 Ways to keep your focus on Christ,” Fish began uploading TikToks in October 2019.
On September 7, 2021, he uploaded a clip of himself sitting in his bedroom, with a sound titled “fall in love with you” playing in the background. The song snippet stands out for its tranquility; it seems content to takes its time, a contrast to TikTok’s fast pace. The video accrued over 3.3 million views, …