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Rock, rap and Jesus? Seattle-based ministry Mars Hill is launching a record label to serve and attract its growing membership.

The fledgling record label is called Mars Hill Music and run by Deacon Jonathan Dunn. Dunn is a founding member of the heavy metal band Demon Hunter and directed A&R at Tooth & Nail/Solid State Records prior to joining Mars Hill.

According to Mars Hill’s site, “it’s a label defined by Christ and culture and corporate worship.” There are also a few tracks to sample onsite.

Citizens will be the first act to release a full-length album on Mars Hill’s new label.

MyNorthwest reported that Mars Hill would like to tap into the music offerings currently happening at its 14 locations in four states, from “rock to rap.” In light of a flailing music industry, Christian rock continues to perform strong in an era of declining physical sales, coming in as the second highest-selling genre, according to Billboard’s 2011 Music Industry Report.

And, as MyNorthwest points out, Mars Hill “boasts upwards of 14,000 followers” and a “built-in” audience with Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermon podcasts downloaded more than 10 million times last year, according to the church. If that’s the case, Mars Hill’s ability to translate its message into online content could bode well for digital sales.

Curious about a what sampling of Mars Hill artists will sound like? The first band to release a full-length album on the new Mars Hill label will be Citizens, led by Zach Bolen, the worship director at Mars Hill’s U-District church. Bolen calls his band’s brand of music, “blue-collar indie rock,” or what we like to call “Christian Nickelback.”

“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 tells’s Josh Kerns.

In case you’ve never heard of Mars Hill, Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger did a massive cover story on the church in January.

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