*** What if We Offered All Christian Music Free-of-Charge? ***

The Internet has changed lots of things in our lives, hasn’t it? Even the way we listen to music.

Cassette tapes are already a part of ancient history and maybe very soon, gone the good ole’ CD… it’s time for downloads!

Oh, yes, those famous downloads… At first, they were illegal with lots of hacking. But we have to admit that an easy way to buy music online just didn’t really exist. Then, new systems appeared like iTunes, for example. Now, it’s very easy to buy music online; so, no more excuses for hacking! Things seem to be coming back into order and the music industry has reset the standard, at least in the secular music field. And that’s good, artists need to be able to produce and live! Let’s hope, and especially act, to bring back this standard to our Christian music environment, too.

Did you know that websites for free listening are on the Internet, such as Last FM or Deezer? So, we started dreaming at the Top: Why not create a platform for listening to Christian music free-of-charge? In this way, we would make the French-speaking Christian artists known throughout the French-speaking world. If someone likes a certain artist, he could order the CD at a store or buy the songs by downloading.

We also became aware of this through our large survey in 2009 (Together, Let’s Improve the Top). Out of 18,000 respondents, 14,000 wished for a music section on the Top. Those results spoke loudly!

So, we began to consult with Christian artists who, in general, have reacted very positively. Special mention goes to Youth with a Mission (YWAM) who is putting its entire catalog for free listening on TopMusic … Surprises will rain down! I would like for all the Christian labels to do the same and for all the Christian artists to be there. Become leaders! Offer our resources and see God bless us! Would somebody say “Amen”?

No business transactions for the Top since we gain nothing on sales. The sales, particularly those relating to downloads, go to the artists. And I hope many of you will encourage them by buying their albums! At the Top, we will pay taxes to the SACEM who will then redirect them to the registered artists. Thanks to the donors of the Top, we will also pay for the significant costs of bandwidth that the service will generate: thousands of dollars each year …

So why do it? Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel and encourage Christians. Music is a great way to achieve both goals. In addition, we will encourage Christian artists by promoting them. So why not do it? This is planned for Sept. 6th with the launching of a new section on Top Chrétien: TopMusic.

What do you think? Do you like this idea?

Together for changed lives,

Eric

*** Let's Vote! ***

At this period in France, regional elections are taking place. Nevertheless, it is not this type of election that I am going to talk to you about in this blog, but about the opportunities to vote that you can find on Top Chretien.

In our last blog on the Thought for the Day, I remarked that several of you had sent your reservations concerning the voting system on Top Chretien. I have to tell you that I really appreciate reading each one of your comments, allowing me to understand the perception, sometimes different from what one can have of things, as seen from inside the Top Chretien offices and from the side of the users, of whom you are a part.  In a future blog, by the way, I will have to show you the Top Chretien offices…

Top Chretien.com has two voting systems: one for the articles and the other for the comments.

One of you said that he/she didn’t appreciate voting on the articles because it seemed to express a judgment of pastors who write certain articles. Moreover, in considering the star system, permitting a vote on the quality of the article, we realized that, in the end, practically all the articles, excepting those of TopInfo, receive votes that are very close. Most of them, after several days, have an average rating of 4,5 out of 5, whatever the number of votes.

It is true that this voting system is not relevant, and we are going to change it to a system close to Facebook’s, which states “I like this article” and a short sentence like “So and so (your name) liked this article” will be published on your news feed.

Thank you to this Internet user for the comment that is going to help us improve Top Chretien. We will continue to keep a listing of the “most-liked” articles because it is very practical, especially for TopInfo, to find information on the news which seems the most relevant for the Top’s Internet users.

The other voting system, which had a lot more written about it, is  the one that has the little thumb in the air and the little thumb pointing down for the comments. Eighteen months ago, we put this system in place with the new version of Top Chretien, for a very simple reason. Previously, we were moderating all the reactions ourselves. In other words, before a comment appeared on the Top, it was validated by a Top team member. However, with the Top getting bigger, it became an impossible task, given the great number of reactions.

You must realize that every day, hundreds of comments and reactions are left on Top Chretien. At the end of the month, that can add up to 10,000 comments, which is humanly impossible to manage!

So we found this solution: the Top Internet users moderate the reactions, thanks to the little thumbs. In fact, when you vote on someone’s comment, you participate in the moderation of the comment. Thus, if a comment is voted negatively many times (four times), it is automatically removed from Top Chretien’s comments. So, the objective is not to put a grade on the comment, nor to keep you from expressing yourself, but simply to avoid having serious things which sometimes appear  on Top Chretien. Nevertheless, the unfortunate side is that certain comments are sometimes removed even though they add to the debate.

As a result of your reactions on this subject, we have reflected, and I would like to propose to you a new system. In addition, I would like to know what you think about it. We will continue to put beside each comment a little button which allows an indication that one likes the comment or not. And if a comment is disapproved by several Top Internet users, it will be “marked down” instead of being eliminated. That is to say, one could always read it, if one so desires. It will always be there, but it will be marked as having been disapproved by several Top Chretien users.

This will allow for a debate not to be cut off and, at the same time, if something is truly bad, to indicate it. Thus, if a user continually leaves “closed” comments, we would be able very simply to deactivate the possibility for the person to leave comments.

Here is what we found after having read your comments. I would like to know what you think before putting it into place. While waiting, if one of your comments disappears, know that it’s not the Top team that has eliminated it, but that it is the users. Therefore, moderate your words! ;-)

Thanks for your attention, for reading, and for your comments on this subject.

Eric

*** Thought for the Day: Do you like it? ***

Did you know that the Thought for the Day is the most used service on Top Chretien? This week we went beyond the symbolic mark of 30,000 email subscribers to the Thought for the Day. Now we would really like to have an iPhone application for the Thought for the Day. Besides, we are looking for an applications’ developer who would want to help us. ;-)

Let me tell you about how the Thought for the Day came about. It’s an astonishing story, as it often happens in what God does!

My friend, Pastor Bertrand Colpier, invited me to preach at a Youth Rally in 2000. I had probably misunderstood the date of the Rally, and I arrived at Bertrand’s home two days ahead of schedule, which really didn’t suit him at all… but God had a plan!

At that time (already 10 years ago), very few pastors were using the Internet. Imagine my surprise when I saw Bertrand writing a short pastoral thought by email before going to bed.

-”What are you doing, Bertrand?” I asked him.

-”I am writing a brief thought for the day for the Christians of my church who have Internet.”

-”What a good pastor! And how many are there?”

-”7!”

-”And you wouldn’t like to write it for 700?”

-”700? But how is that possible?”

-Since we have a free day tomorrow, we could propose a new service to the Top Chretien Internet users: Thought for the Day. What do you think?”

-”OK, I’m ready to do it. It’s a great idea. Thank you, Lord!”

The next day, we wrote to all the website portal users. The Top was only one year old. The first day, one hundred Internet users subscribed, and we rapidly attained 700. Thank you, Bertrand, for becoming the first author of the Thought for the Day! In 10 years, thousands of Thoughts have been sent, and hundreds of thousands of encouraged Christians have posted comments on the website portal. Glory to God!

Today, Carolle Wright (pictured in this blog) manages this service and follows up on the Thought for the Day authors. Carolle is a Top Chretien missionary, and you can support her (Click to know more about Carolle).

We have French-speaking authors, for example Samuel Foucart, and English-speaking authors, such as Rick Warren or Joyce Meyer. Carolle prays to know which Thought to put on which day. Her concern is that the Thought for the Day appears at the right moment and best responds to the Internet users’ needs. And God knows them, the needs!

“The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,” states the Bible in Proverbs 25:11. (The Message)

When we read the comments, we are amazed to see how God speaks and acts through this tool.

The most commented Thoughts for the Day

The most read Thoughts for the Day

And you, have you been blessed by the Thought for the Day? What do you think of this Top Chretien service?

*** Music Maestro! ***

A few months ago we sent out a survey entitled “Together, Let’s improve the Top!” More than 20,000 Internet users responded. We spent time sorting out the responses, the requests, and the very numerous encouraging messages. Have you already tried to read 14,000 encouraging messages? I have, and I am so pleased that Top Chretien is such a blessing. Thank you, my God, for causing this tool to be developed! Of course, there were also the inevitable criticisms, but for the most part, they were constructive.

This feedback, negative or positive, is essential for us. Besides, that’s why the Top Blog exists! It enables us to improve, and to be in contact with you, the Internet users whom we serve. If you would like to study the survey results more closely, click here. You’ll see, they are very interesting.

One of the greatest requests was that we add a section dedicated to music and worship. It’s true. This is missing on the Top Chretien portal. Stephan, the Top Chretien portal manager, and several Top team members went to work on it. So, you should soon see the arrival of Top Music.

Nevertheless, we still need your opinion to make sure that we have truly understood your request. So, what would you like to find in a section dedicated to Christian music? Your opinion is indispensable. Don’t miss the opportunity to give it.