Ever wonder who “The BIG Players” in Christian music record labels are? Ever wonder if there were or are any “players” in Texas?
The “size” of a record label can be measured by the number of singer/songwriters under contract with the label, the number of copyrighted songs administered in the label’s catalog, the number of “top tier” performers/groups under contract with the label, the volume of albums or songs sold, the net worth of the label, etc.
So, while one label might lead under one measure, another label might lead under another measure.
One thing that is certain, the higher a label rates in each of the categories, the “bigger” the label is and the more successful the singers, songwriters, performers and groups of that label become, the “bigger” the label becomes.
Over the past ten years, there have been many changes in the Christian music industry. Labels seem to be bought and sold faster than you can pen a Christian song. One major thing that has happened, though, has been the continuing acquisition of the smaller record labels by the bigger mainstream record companies.
For example, Warner Music Groups (www.wmg.com) owns a majority of Word Entertainment (www.wordentertainment.com), which owns Word Label Group (www.wordlabelgroup.com), Word Publishing and Word Distribution (www.worddistribution.com), and Word Label Group owns Word Records (www.wordrecords.com), Fervent Records (www.ferventrecords.com), Myrrh Records (www.myrrh.com) and Canaan Records (www.canaanrecords.com). EMI Christian Music Group (which includes Sparrow Records (www.sparrowrecords.com), Forefront Records (www.forefrontrecords.com), EMI Gospel) is owned by EMI Group Plc, which was purchased in 2008 by Terra Firma Capital Partners. Provident Music Group (www.providentmusicgroup.com) is owned by Sony Music Entertainment (www.sonymusic.com). BMG Music Service (www.bmgmusic.com) owns Columbia House’s Power and Glory and BMG’s Sound and Spirit. All of these “big” record labels have helped the Christian music genre hit the main stage.
You might be surprised to know, however, that some of these “big” record labels were built upon the foundations laid by some “small” record labels that came from…… You guessed it, Texas!
The Christian record label known as Word Records was founded in Waco, TX in 1951 by Jarrell McCracken, a sportscaster for a local radio station. McCracken started with the pressing of a limited number of copies an album that included a single radio broadcast about a fictitious football match, entitled “The Game of Life”, between the forces of Good and Evil. The match was broadcast by the fictitious radio station “WORD”. The rest is history. Word Records now represents artists such as Point of Grace, Randy Travis, Nicole C. Mullen, Building 429, Meredith Andrews, Mark Schultz, Diamond Rio, David Phelps, Salvador, Stellar Kart, Remedy Drive and others.
In 1972, Myrrh Records was founded by Billy Ray Hearn, also in Waco, TX, as a division of Word Records. The label helped build a large following for Contemporary Christian Music. About four years later Hearn left Myrrh to form Sparrow Records. The Myrrh label was dropped by Word Entertainment in 2000, but five years later they re-launched Myrrh Records to focus on Praise & Worship music. Myrrh represents or has represented artists such as, Pocket Full Of Rocks, Women Of Faith, Worship Team, Amy Grant, Barry McGuire, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Randy Matthews, Nancy Honeytree, Mike Warnke, Malcolm and Alwyn Petra, GLAD, Billy Preston, Richie Furay, David and the Giants, Mark Heard, Steve Archer, Randy Stonehill, Leslie Phillips, Crystal Lewis, The 77’s, Salvation Air Force, Benny Hester, One Bad Pig, Phil Keaggy, Steve Taylor, The Choir, Cliff Richard … You get the picture.
And just in case you were wondering, there are about 80 independent Christian music record labels registered with the Texas Music Office (http://www.governor.state.tx.us/music/).
Texas can proudly claim its stake in the Christian music record industry!
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