Questions for Canaan

Reader LeeBob has some questions for the new label:

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.

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  1. CVH wrote:

    A couple of quick thoughts on this:

    1. I have respect for Dave Clark and I’m sure he wouldn’t move into the position without some assurance from Word that the label will actually have potential rather than becoming just another imprint releasing par material. We don’t need that. Another Speer alum, John Mays, worked with Word for years and more recently has been instrumental in the development of Centricity Records, which is almost a botique label in that they’re focused on a few artists and really do things well for them.

    2. Clark & Co. will need to have two main goals to be viable. First, find and develop new talent that is worthwhile and give them more than a 45-day marketing plan to make it. Second, sign existing groups and give their projects the creative direction and budget support to produce products that stand out for their artistic merits (song selection, arranging, production values, packaging, etc.). As it stands now there are a (literal) handful of groups who consistently produce Grade A projects. Then there’s a slide down to the broad middle ground of “OK” sounding stuff, then the uncharted (literally and figuratively) territory of quasi-amateur crap.

    At this point, Canaan is only a brand name. Granted an established one for those old enough to know it and the artists associated with the label, but don’t forget a few years ago Word also revived the “Myrrh” label as an imprint for their praise and worship music division. Originally, in the 70’s, Myrrh was the contemporary imprint for the product that was too hip for the main ‘Word’ label and not stylistic enough for the ‘Dayspring’ label. In its heyday it was the dominant brand for that style of music, much moreso than any label Benson or Zondervan or even Sparrow had. So it remains to be seen whether they’ll make Canaan a name synonymous with the best of SG or just use it as a familiar brand to sell product.

  2. Felicia wrote:

    Well, if they’re smart it will be $ AND actual talent. Some of us are naive enough to think that they can still go hand in hand, that if actual talent is exploited properly everyone wins. But, regardless of what you and I think “actual talent” is, they are in business to make money. Which is how it should be. Hopefully they will sign quality artists, produce quality projects and re-establish the high standard that Canaan was known for in the golden years. And, hopefully, that will equal great sales and profits for them.

  3. thom wrote:

    Since Canaan Records will be a part of Word, I assume they will be using “word distirbution” to get the product to market.

    See my comments from the “AUSTIN’S BRIDGE” thread regarding the distribution of their debut project …..”Iwent looking for it on the “release date” and could not find it in 2 different Christian bookstores. The clerks were not familiar with it but gave me the canned answer “we can probably order it for you.” This is being distributed by Word Distribution - I expected one of those instore displays that you practically trip over when you enter the music department. But nothing of the sort. I still haven’t seen any promotional materials for it in the bookstores. Maybe it’s being promoted somewhere else. who knows>?

    If Daywind wants this project to reach -any- audience they must do something to give Word Distribution a swift kick in the pants and get it out there on the market.”

    Am I missing something or should there be some amount of fanfare surrounding a new artist’s debut project in order to get the biggest splash you can?

  4. Leebob wrote:

    While they are supposed to be making money, is it necessary that the talent front the money then? There are cases in which money may be the only issue holding a group back. I think where I take issue is that it seems NOW money is the determining factor in a group getting heard. In the case of Austin’s Bridge, if they have fronted some money, what are they getting in return for their $? Maybe there just isn’t any new talent out there and like NBA coaches, we should simply get used to recycling. The older generation that mostly supports our genre likes it that way and the labels know this. It is too much work to develop new sounds and the risk is too great. Of course the REWARD is better when you hit on one of these groups. Better for them to hit the sure thing than take the risk.

    My hope is that Clark & Co. (A pretty good sounding production company on it’s own) will take the higher standards and go for some new talent after landing a couple of the known comodities.

  5. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    “the uncharted (literally and figuratively) territory of quasi-amateur crap.”

    Actually, the sort of music you’re talking about DOES get charted…regularly…as regular as…well, you know, since you already mentioned the word.

  6. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    “If Daywind wants this project to reach -any- audience they must do something to give Word Distribution a swift kick in the pants and get it out there on the market.”

    Word Distribution, like all distributors, is at the mercy of the music buyers who represent the stores. They can only do so much (like buying some feature space within the store), to guarantee a product will get in front of potential buyers.

    Many people are under the misconception that “being distributed by a major distributor” means the stores MUST carry the product. It does not mean this at all. It simply means a large distributor will pitch the product to the stores along with many OTHER pieces of product at the same time.

    I worked as a music buyer for a privately Christian bookstore for several years in the 1990s. I probably ordered more SG than I really needed (being a fan), but I also said “No” to items I didn’t believe would sell.

    When I worked as a music buyer, I had the novel idea of stocking what was proven to sell and only ordering very small quantities of everything else that hadn’t proven to be a good seller in the past. Interestingly enough, the music sales for the store rose by 20% or more annually for as long as I did this.

    Then we were bought by Family Christian Stores. My job description no longer included ordering music. Sales leveled off…then took a steady decline, as clueless music buyers based in Michigan failed time after time to adequately stock the titles that had a greater demand in our market.

    I don’t know how they’ve done since 2003, because I no longer work there. In my estimation, Family does a great job with marketing and stocking the most popular music, but not so great when it comes to adequately stocking niche styles that may sell strong in one market and not so strong 45 miles down the road.

    The beast is simply too detailed for their 1980s era computer systems to handle.

  7. Leebob wrote:

    DBM - not sure where you are coming from…”quasi-amateur crap”? To whom was that intended or where did it come from?

    We were contacted about 6 months ago because somebody came to our web site. While I was thrilled that somebody noticed the expense is way too great at this time. If that particular promoter really felt like we had a chance perhaps he could come off the price a bit and take the chance with us. We are supposed to take ALL the risk and then share the reward. Seems to me that if I am going to share the reward anyway there would be some meeting ground.

    Then a month ago we were contacted by another somebody in Nashville getting ready to step into promotions and wanting us to put money into a compilation cd. Honored, but not stupid. Just because you get a song on a compilation cd does not mean it is going to get air play. Meanwhile the better known, not neccessarily more talented group, gets the air play simply because of the name.

    There was a time when a promoter was…well, a promoter. Now they have become exploiters of individual dreams to people who have no idea where they stand and in order to find out just sign the check and find out.

    My question is this: Is there a way of finding out where you stand without taking out a 2nd mortgage? If a promoter already has his money he isn’t really too concerned whether it succeeds or fails. Meanwhile, people with more money and less talent move along and SG takes the hit.

  8. CVH wrote:

    Thom, good comment on AB and the whole availability problem. It would be nice if one could find a real variety of music in the average Christian bookstore but they only stock what sells and with a few exceptions salespeople are not educated on music beyond, “Here’s the bar code, now scan it.” They know what they like and that’s about it. And even if a store stocks what they consider to be SG it’s usually defined as anything Gaither and Gaither-related, that’s it. With the distribution network behind most stores, whether locally-owned or national chains, there’s only a limited amount of product that will ever hit the shelves. Canaan’s marketing budget will be a slice of Word’s total and it will probably be thin. I’ve seen instances where a label put a lot of resources behind an artist they thought was going to be the ‘next big thing’ and they tanked; and other cases where someone they had little confidence in found strong grassroots appeal and blew sales away.

    Leebob, I’ve very rarely heard of a group fronting the cost of a label project. The obvious downside to having a label underwrite the cost of a project is that it’s unlikely the project will ever recoup, at least according to the label’s books. That way the artist never actually owns the master. There are a lot of pluses to being with a good label but ownership of your masters isn’t one of them. I’ve worked a few projects where we leased the master to the label for a 2 or 3 year period after which time all rights reverted back to the artist. It’s a more leveraged approach where everyone shares in some of the cost as well as the profit.

    Also, I think in your last post you questioned DBM on the phrase “quasi-amateur crap” - that was mine from a previous post.

  9. Leebob wrote:

    CVH - Thank you for the clarifiacation.

    When it comes to the group fronting the money, that is pretty much all the calls that I am getting, which may be more of an indication as to where the label thinks we are at than anything else. However, it is getting to the point that when we do receive these calls I feel more that I am trying to be sold rather than guided. I have read the articles about “labels” and “promoters” and have even spoken to a few friends who have gone that direction and they weren’t always happy with the results. But then again, even the national groups run into some stinker situations. What I am hearing is that we are probably better off continuing the direction we are going until we have something that we are comfortable with from a label.

  10. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    What you’ve described happens all too often.

    You were flattered that someone from a label noticed your website, but the expense was more than you could handle. At least you were smart enough not to take the bait. Others are so flattered by this sort of attention that they fork over several thousand dollars so they can say they’re “on a label.”

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