As an artist who happens to be Christian, How often does religion clash with the industry when it comes to lyrical/visual content? And how are compromises made?
Here's a cut and paste from a response I gave to someone about 15-20 pages back regarding their Christian band, this may answer some of your question:
"Christian" bands are always stuck in an interesting predicament, one which is not that different to what a lot of "white power"-style artists find themselves in. It works like this: people who are interested in the ideology want to listen to the music primarily because it matches their ideology, whereas people who disagree with the ideology refuse to even give the music a chance, once again, because they don't happen to agree with what's being said. In both cases, the actual music takes a back seat.
This is why, in the history of Christian music (in all genres), once an act starts gaining a very solid fanbase, they start toning down their Christian message - the people behind the music generally still hold those beliefs but they no longer want to be perceived as "that Christian artist", because it stops new people outside of that Christian music scene from checking out the music (and on top of financial concerns there's no point preaching to the choir after all). They're trying to break out of the "ghettoisation" effect that nominating yourself as a Christian artist tends to generate. Amy Grant, Stryper and P.O.D. are all artists who have attempted this shift, with varying degrees of success, but almost every big Christian band tries to "cross over" at some point. It's just good marketing sense.
For smaller Christian bands, ghettoisation can be a good thing - sure, it cuts off the non-Christian audience more or less completely, but it makes the Christian audience super-interested in everything you do, and at the start of your career you're probably mainly going to be playing just to your Christian pals anyway. Let's look at "white power" bands again - now that's a genre that's has zero chance in hell of crossing over into the mainstream because so many people find those kind of ideas completely abhorrent. Bands who choose that path knowingly choose the path of music industry ghettoisation. They know they'll never be accepted by the mainstream - only their specific audience will ever care. The flipside, is that that specific audience cares a whole lot. Look at Skrewdriver - even by punk standards, they can barely play their instruments and ignoring the lyrical content the songs themselves are simply not that good, certainly nothing to write home about compared to their contemporaries, yet they had that tiny core audience who latched onto them and loves them because of their extreme stance, hence they're still known today and have fans all over the world (not many though, but enough for a cult following).
Further to that, as far as the industry is concerned, it really doesn't care too much what you believe, what they care about is if it's selling, because it's a business and they're into it to make money. To put it another way, not every book publisher who publishes bibles has a 100% Christian staff who actually believe the doctrine - it's likely in some cases that they might
, but it's certainly not always the case - often they're just filling demand for the book. That's why P.O.D. were able to get on things like the Ozzfest tour - the band were/are popular, they fit the format of the tour (i.e they're heavy), plenty of people like them and go to see them, and that's what business-savvy promoters and tour organisers care about. On the other hand, the idea that P.O.D. might be ideologically at odds with Ozzy himself and many other bands on the bill isn't really on the radar of those people. (That's not to say some promoters don't have stupid prejudices - some certainly do
, but the good ones don't
.) As long as you're filling venues, pretty much any message will be tolerated by an intelligent promoter or label unless it's really really
extremely offensive in some way that might actually damage the label/tour/whatever on a business
level. And Christianity is unlikely to do many bands too much harm, it's a pretty popular religion after all, and you'd be surprised even despite the ghettoisation effect stated earlier, how many fans of Christian bands aren't actually believers but are willing to say "I don't agree with the message but I still like the music". I have a Christian friend who loves Deicide, because he thinks the music is great, and the Satanism stuff, he's just like "they can believe whatever they want, I don't believe in that or really care, I just like it for the music - sure, it'd be nice
if they were Christian too, but - oh well". That kind of crossover audience isn't huge but it really does exist.
In summary, most decisions about "how 'out' should we make our Christian message" come from the band themselves, not anywhere else. Maybe they're influenced by what their fans think, but the label couldn't give a shit to be honest as long as the end result is something people will want to buy. The exception is Christian-only labels that only deal in Christian bands and might use that as a marketing point, in which case it's kind of expected that you fly the flag a bit. To bring the book thing into it again, you wouldn't try to get a pro-Atheist book published by a Christian book publisher (you could try, but you'd obviously get nowhere fast).