What a label can do

David Bruce Murray posted this comment in the Canaan thread and it seems worth promoting to the main page, lest the point get overlooked in the mix.

If a group like the Hoppers can create great music on their own, that’s well and good, but the reality is they have no decent distribution plan in place. You either get _The Ride_ from the Hoppers or you don’t get it at all. Maybe they can make just as much profit from direct sales, but are their songs being heard? And if a person in Michigan hears one of their songs by chance and wants to buy a copy, how persistent are they likely to be in chasing down the one website where they can order it?

To the credit of Goss and the Hoppers, they are pursuing some avenues that other groups aren’t. Word Music just released a choral book of songs recorded by the Hoppers with the Hoppers’ name on the front cover to help sell it, arranged and orchestrated by Lari Goss. Several songs from the Ride CD are included.

It seems if Word Music was going to go to all that effort, Word Distribution would have worked out some deal to distribute the independent Ride project as well.

I’m not so sure independent is the best way to go. I think a better solution would be to create music independently, but then use some sort of distribution machine that’s already in place.

As for the Florida Boys, they’ve been needing a guiding hand in the studio for many years. As much as I liked Gene McDonald’s singing and as much as I like Josh Garner’s singing, the group didn’t/hasn’t made a really good recording in terms of production quality since either guy has been with the group. The Homeland stuff had a cheap sound…fake strings on “I’m Forgiven”…and the two Cathedral projects were just about as low budget as you could go. This is not a group that makes particularly good recordings WITH a label’s help, so I’d expect even less if they go it alone.

DBM makes an especially good point about excellent custom recordings never really getting heard because of “custom” distribution. But I would disagree slightly with him and suggest that even for the solid independently produced artists, labels can be good for more than just distribution.

If you want an example of what a new breed of nimble labels are capable of doing for artists who produce good music on their own, look at Janet Paschal’s new hymns project. I’ve just finished listening to it and ll have a review soon but suffice it to say it’s astonishingly good, exemplifying not only that a label brings with it the support of a distribution network for established artists (Paschal’s more recent projects in her post-Spring Hill days have mostly been availabe only on her website) but can also take really talented talent to a new level of accomplishment with the right artistic direction from the record company. Paschal has made excellent records by herself, but in the case of Sounds Like Sunday, she can thank her label for far far more than just distribution help. She got masterful artistic direction (from Wayne Haun, who has produced most of Paschal’s recent work) but also an investment from the label to give the project an artistic reach and stylistic scope (orchestrations, accompaniment, backing vocals, etc) to a degree that a custom recording would likely not have had.

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  1. te wrote:

    I agree with DBM, the Florida Boys have needed help in the studio for some time. They are rapidly becoming just an average group resting on their past accomplishments in a “what have you do for me lately” world.

  2. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    There is one thing that alot of other groups do not do. Hoppers do their homework and fufill constituent services down to an individual basis.
    Some and I mean only some groups need a distribution plan designed by the experts because the group lacks a motivation to have a consistent plan in place throughout the entire year.
    What you do, where you do and how you do it should be just as important as the magical word of distribution.
    Distribution sounds nice but you still have to connect with the masses.
    Its all about the homework.

  3. JP wrote:

    It is very frustrating for Christian Bookstores to have a customer walk in and ask, for example, for the Hoppers new project and have to tell them, “I’m sorry, we’ve checked with all of our distributors and none of them are able to supply that for us”. There are a lot of people out there who are unwilling or unable to use mail order or online ordering.
    Sure there are some stores who don’t do the homework to check on availability, but those that do deserve some consideration from the Artists. You would think that a group like the Hoppers would be willing to give up that % difference between wholesale and retail to be represented in stores across the country and especially in areas where they do not tour.

  4. arnold cenzaboy wrote:

    Your obsession with Wayne Haun is interesting. Are you guys pals or what?

  5. Leebob wrote:

    My questions to Canaan are as follows:

    1. Are they going to be like every other “promotional” company and only use the established good ole boy (and girl) groups? I get a kick out of the “promoters” who only use established groups. Essentially they are not promoting anybody. They are only using the groups to promote themselves. They have grown comfortable in their work, left their first love of promoting new groups, and rest in the work they have already established. I guess that is okay because they have earned that right.

    2. Are the “new” groups they do promote only going to be promoted because the groups front the money? We might as well face it that the “accidental” finding of talent days are over with. Now if you have alot of money, a little bit of talent, and are self-serving enough, you too can buy your way into a contract. Thanks, but no thanks, I am not interested in spending $900 to have a song or two placed on a compilation cd so you can have the established group get the air play.

    3. What perameters will Canaan establish to decide who is in and who is out? Will it be $, or actual talent. Without getting into any name calling, I for the life of me do not understand how certain “national” groups have made it. I think there are certain groups that are like hockey. They have a strong core group of fans that will defend them to the end and denounce anybody who dares to criticize. However, they do not see any REAL growth.

  6. JP wrote:

    In regards to comment #4, I don’t know when or if Doug and Wayne ever met, but I’ve met Wayne and he definitely lives up to his reputation. A nice guy but very dedicated to his Artists. Wayne is a quintessential professional in an industry that could use a few more, when you hear that big lush string arrangement, rest assured that Wayne has been to Budapest again. I think what you are terming an obsession is simply a reflection of Doug’s taste - notwithstanding the talent of the artist, Wayne makes the kind of music that will contribute to the longevity of the Southern Gospel genre.

    As far as DBM’s comment, one example would be the new Jeff and Sheri Easter project, “Life is Great and Getting Better” where they had total artistic control, but then used Daywind (and by extension, Word and New Day) to handle the distribution. Of course, not every group has the clout of Jeff and Sheri, some would need oversight and direction from the label, but since they are a proven entity, it’s turning out ot be a “win/win” situation. Would be nice if the Hoppers could quickly do the same with the resurrected Canaan label with their “Ride” project.

  7. arnold cenzaboy wrote:

    JP-are you sure you and Doug haven’t had a conference call on this one? Glad you brought your dictionary and thesaurus. About the Budapest thing. . . . I remember when going overseas to get cheap labor would cause an outcry from the AFL-CIO! There are a lot of fine string sections in the USA.

  8. JP wrote:

    According to DBM, my wish just came true. According to Claude, the Hoppers “The Ride” project will be releasing on the resurrected Canaan Label through Word.

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