Hoppers’ Success and the Future of Canaan Records

Singing News has posted their March top 80, and the Hoppers’ “I’m Just Waiting For My Ride” sits atop the list. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.] It’s the Hoppers’ eighth #1 hit, which, incidentally, puts them at #6 on the list of groups with the most #1 hits on the Singing News charts. SoGospelNews has a press release with comments from the group, the songwriter (Ronny Hinson), and the record label. [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed.]

While every #1 hit is significant for the group and the songwriter, this one has a particular significance for the record label, the newly re-introduced Canaan Records. It’s the label’s first #1 since Word brought the label back. Even though chart success is just one measure of group popularity, it is a tangible demonstration of the label’s success in making themselves again a leader in a field they haven’t been part of in years.

It doesn’t take an astute prognosticator to figure out that Word/Canaan has been cautiously testing the waters in this genre. They don’t want to commit valuable promotional and infrastructure resources to a dying genre for nostalgic reasons; they will likely only remain a significant force in our genre if their first efforts are reasonably profitable.

Here’s a little bit of industry background information that probably only a few will find interesting (but I’m one of them, so here goes): There are four major labels in the secular music business, Warner Music Group, EMI, Sony BMG, and Universal Music Group. Together, these labels’ music sales comprise about 80% of the U.S. Music market and 70% of the the world music market. Until recently, only one of the big four had a presence in Southern Gospel–EMI’s Christian Music Group (EMI CMG) distributes the Gaither and Gaither Music Group releases. Word is part of the Warner Music Group family, so with Word re-introducing its Southern Gospel division, Canaan, this is essentially the first time in several years that artists outside of the immediate Gaither Music Group family will have access to the marketing and distribution infrastructure of one of the big four.

It certainly hasn’t hurt either Canaan or the Hoppers that The Ride was the strongest Hoppers album in recent memory. (After all, if “I’m Just Waiting for My Ride” could go to #1, there are at least a half-dozen other songs on the project that could do the same, among which is their next single, “Yaweh.”) But totally aside from the fact that the Hoppers are one of the strongest acts in Southern Gospel today, I’ve been rooting for their success on the Canaan label, both since it’s nice to have the Canaan name back in the genre and since the success of this group with the label will mean opportunities for other Southern Gospel acts to become part of the label. This #1 is an encouraging and tangible first benchmark of success.

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9 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Yes but Daniel – EMI CMG doesn’t own Gaither Music Group – they just distribute the title – so they aren’t getting the same “marketing” infrastructure – because Canaan is actually OWNED by Warner Brothers – meaning it’s gonna get a much bigger push from them than EMI is going to give Gaither (because Gaither is just under a distribution contract and nothing more).

    If you’re counting Gaither has having the “marketing and distribution infrastructure of one of the big four”, then you also need to include Daywind Records (distributed by Word), New Haven (distributed by Provident-Integrity which is owned by Sony BMG) and Spring Hill’s past work in Southern Gospel (they are distributed through Word, and were distributed through Chordant/EMI).

  2. Chris, I didn’t know / remember that Daywind was distributed by Word. Fascinating stuff–thanks!

  3. Daniel, take a look at the back of the more recent Daywind releases and you’ll see it. For example, I’m looking at Greater Vision’s “Everyday People” and it’s on there.

  4. OK – thanks!

  5. By the way, I’m suspecting that / wondering if Daywind has a nonexclusive agreement with Word, while Gaither has an exclusive agreement with EMI CMG. Daywind’s music is available in some nontraditional outlets like eMusic, while Gaither’s isn’t.

  6. Daywind’s agreement is non-exclusive to the extent that their in-house distribution company sells Daywind titles in addition to Word.

    Gaither also moves a great deal of his own product, but his non-Chordant distribution is direct to customers. The store can order from Chordant only. In Daywind’s case, a retail store can order the same titles from New Day Distribution or Word.

    (Of course, I’m not counting secondary distribution companies such as Spring Arbor when I say Chordant is the “only” option.)

  7. Congratulations to the Hoppers! It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since they got their first #1 hit with “Here I Am” but the hits keep a-rollin’. They definitely deserve this.

  8. DBM – Interesting. I believe I understand. Thanks for the information!

  9. Canaan will have a new artist soon.