Posts Tagged ‘modern worship’

Print Music Category Overlooked Victim of Technology

When you think of the impact technology has had on traditional Christian bookstores, you probably think of the major culprits (eBooks and music downloading) or the recent culprits (in Canada, the PureFlix movie streaming service, promoted heavily on 100 Huntley.)

It’s easy to forget the volume many of us were doing with print music, particularly sales of worship resources to church worship teams and individual musicians. The Hosanna-Integrity songbooks, pictured above, were a small part of a larger array of merchandise many of us carried, along with the Maranatha! Praise and Worship Collections. (Remember the beige book, the purple book and the red book? People are still looking for those.)

Then along came CCLI. My wife leads worship in several different contexts and when she needs a song, she can simply download print music, even choosing the key signature in which it will print. Today most churches have a CCLI licenses which allow multiple users (i.e. various worship musicians and leaders) to access their vast database from home.

Another subcategory of print music was hymnbooks. The margins were small, the freight costs were high, but there was volume.

Today, hymnbooks are sold one-at-a-time. They are rapidly on their way to becoming relics.

Then there were the “easy play” Christian keyboard books for beginning pianists. Graded books offered increasing levels of difficulty and many Christian piano teachers worked their students through a series of eight to ten different books.

Sadly, there’s no piano in the parlour. To say that differently, home entertainment systems with big screens have replaced the piano in the family rooms and living rooms of the nation.  Even musical instrument stores are loathe to carry too many electronic keyboards because the margins are so much higher on guitars and other string instruments.

We recently sold our entire songbook inventory to a musical instruments dealer in a town about 40 minutes away. We took a huge loss, but it was not a difficult decision as he was willing to take everything. As a musician, it hurt to see this chapter in our bookstore end, but with Christmas coming I have about a half-dozen books if anyone is desperate. And we also have hymnbooks, but we mark them up to incorporate a full trade margin. People are happy to get their hands on them, so the price is not an issue.

Celebrating 20 Years of WOW The Hits

Wow Hits 2016Christian bookstore shoppers have made this item a staple for two decades now, and in many of them, it is the top selling CD of the year overall. The WOW CDs were patterned after the NOW CDs which were sold in the general market. The idea behind the compilations was to present the best available songs, but without the label restrictions usually associated with CD samplers. To accomplish this, The WOW Partnership was created involving the major Christian record companies. Additionally, bonus cuts allowed the participating companies to introduce newer artists.

The CD series has its own page on Wikipedia:

WOW is a series of annual compilation albums featuring contemporary Christian music. The birth of the WOW record project can be traced Grant Cunningham, A&R Director at Sparrow Records. In November of 1994 Grant made a business trip to EMI Limited in London, at the time was the parent company of Sparrow Records where he noticed that several British record labels were issuing an annual CD of top-rated songs, known as the NOW series, containing collections of pop songs. Grant brought the idea back to Sparrow. Sparrow executives suggested a similar project be developed for Christian pop music and Grant was assigned the task of getting the project off the ground. The WOW franchise represents the most successful collections of Christian music ever issued.

Released in late 1995, “WOW 1996” was the first in the WOW series and the first recording put together by the three major Christian record companies of the time: Word Records (now Word Entertainment), Sparrow Records (now part of EMI Christian Music Group), and Reunion Records (now part of Sony’s Provident Label Group). Still today, after each submitting label agrees to a reduced master royalty, the final decision on the tracks to be included is made by committee. Production, marketing, and distribution for the “WOW Hits” series is handled by EMI Christian Music Group.

Wow Worship LimeThe Wikipedia page has two more paragraphs, one of which I added this morning dealing with the huge popularity of the more recent WOW Worship series. That series began in the fall of 1999 and are named by the color of the cover, possibly in a nod to the timelessness of some worship songs. There have also been hymn collections and Christmas collections, and in the U.S. the WOW Gospel series highlights the best of urban and mass gospel choir-inspired music.

With WOW Hits 2016 due to release mid-September, I found it interesting that one writer has already suggested ten songs that didn’t make the cut. (If you’re looking for some tunes to listen to, he has the videos embedded in that post.) Furthermore, just to show what a coveted prize getting on the Wow complications is, Josh Andre also offers twenty songs that he feels should be considered for WOW 2017. Somebody takes this really seriously!

These albums always make a great gift. For the the recipient, they represent an instant commercial-free playlist, especially for people who live on the fringes of Christian radio reception or are completely foreign to the contemporary Christian music genre. The 2-CD sets are now usually made available in both a regular and deluxe edition, the latter containing more bonus cuts, but the standard minimum is usually 30 songs, making this a great bargain.

Happy Birthday to WOW!


David C. Cook Canada Cancels Music Loyalty Program with Only Six Weeks Notice to Consumers

The company that controls distribution of well over 90% of the recorded Christian music sales in Canada, David C. Cook Canada, has canceled its Buy-5-Get-1-Free loyalty program, a staple of music sales and every bit as much a tradition in this country as Hockey Night in Canada. The company claims that “changes in the marketplace” force this and that “some of the record labels we represent no longer support the program.”

But in a letter which begins, “Dear Retail Partner,” the company is asking us to spread this word to customers, who have only until April 30th to redeem the stickers. With a diverse, scattered customer base, it is totally impossible to inform the number of people who will be impacted by this, and they will in turn vent their frustration on us, the front-liners. Retail partnership indeed.

Dealers are going to have people coming in all summer and into the fall, walking up to the counter with CDs and reaching in their pocket for coupons which were obtained and retained in good faith.

As of mid-week, our bookkeeper informed we have about 48 such coupon sets sitting in a drawer, and absolutely nothing urgently needed that would cause us to redeem them anytime soon. But we’ve already given away the product. Even at a lower price of $14.99, that’s nearly $750 in retail tied up in little bits of paper and plastic, not to mention the cost of shipping the original units we gave away, plus the cost of shipping replacements.

This sudden move lacks grace, and grace is the hallmark of our faith.

Furthermore, with stores known to “buy around” the Canadian distributor, eliminating the consumer loyalty program effectively ends any hope of vendor loyalty. But that’s if you decide to stick with music at all. The second time around redemptions are actually a Buy-4-Get-1-Free because the customer kept the coupon from the free item. That means it’s at least a 25% saving in the mind of the customer, even more so, if they bought less expensive discs, but redeemed the scrip for a more costly one. So basically, you’re eliminating the advantage at a time when physical music sales already face fierce competition.

Christian music sales in Canada will drop significantly.

Any company that would do this to the very consumers who have stuck with and supported physical music shows absolutely no respect for the people who have supported it all these years. While I know I will be told, “you don’t know all the factors that went into this,” I do know that the manner in which this is being carried out is just mean.

You can hurt me, do anything you want to me; but when you hurt my customers, you cross a line. Six weeks is insufficient notice.

…Tonight we started the information process:

Our customer notification of music program cancelation

UPDATE: With no previously published expiry date, or any posted terms of service, pulling the plug on this program without actually shutting down the company may contravene Canadian consumer law.


Customers May Not Identify New Project as Brian Doerksen’s

The staff member who checked in the CDs was surprised when I told her that the album was actually a new project from Brian Doerksen. In the U.S. market, I supposed there would have been a sticker attached to the shrink-wrap, “New from Worship Leader Brian Doerksen.” Here, we’re relying on word-of-mouth to accomplish that, I guess.  The following is from my consumer review which appeared at Thinking Out Loud:

Brian Doerksen and The Shiyr PoetsThe Shiyr Poets (pronounced ‘sheer’) takes a word-for-word approach to the book of Psalms, but with a conversion to modern English from the Hebrew and with the addition of recurring choruses as keeping with the structure of modern music. In many ways, bringing these texts into our century captures the heart and anguish of the Psalmist in ways we might miss with a cursory reading of the text.

The band is the latest project from worship leader Brian Doerksen composer of Refiner’s Fire, Come Now Is The Time to Worship, You Shine, and Faithful One. The sound is consistent with past Doerksen albums, a gentle, more intimate sound. (Foreshadowing this project was the song Fortress 144 from a few years back; a song Brian said was written especially to be a song that men could embrace in a corporate worship setting.)

On Songs for the Journey, Volume One the goal is to begin working sequentially through the book of Psalms, hence this album covers the first ten, with two bonus tracks. Yes, this is an ambitious project! The group used crowd-funding to partially underwrite the launch of the first project and probably would need to do that again to create successive volumes, as this has not been produced for a major label.

You can listen to an audio sample from Psalm 3, at the band’s website by clicking here, or watch a video from a Christian television program here and here. The physical album is currently only available in Canada, but elsewhere customers can download it from iTunes.

Again, there’s a lot going on in the Psalms that we miss, and this project accurately captures both the tension and the wonder.

Those of you not having AdBlock on your browser: Let me know who and what type of advertisements WordPress adds to the end of these articles.


Dove Award Nominees

From the website Hear it First, a full rundown of the top songs, albums, performances, producers, etc. in a variety of categories including rock, Southern gospel, rap, pop, inspirational, bluegrass and country! Click here to read.



Song of the Year – Cat 1

“Fix My Eyes”for KING & COUNTRY, (writers) Seth Mosley, Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone (publishers) CentricSongs/2 Hour Songs/Warner Tamerlane/Kilns Music/Shankel Songs/WB Music Corp/Method To The Madness

“Hello My Name Is”Matthew West, (writer) Matthew West (publishers) Songs of Southside Independent Music Publishing/External Combustion Music/Songs for Delaney/Warner/Chappell Music, LLC

“Hurricane”Natalie Grant, (writers) Natalie Grant, Matt Bronleewe, Cindy Morgan (publisher) SeeSee Bubba Songs/Tunes Of R And T Direct/Razor & Tie Music Publishing, LLC/Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/Forest For The Trees Music/Checkpointchicky Music/Seems Like Music/Music Services

“I Can Trust Him”The Perrys, (writers) Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, (publishers) PsalmSinger Music/DaySpring Music/Songs From The Inside

“Lord I Need You”Matt Maher, (writers) Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, Matt Maher, (publishers) sixsteps Music/Sweater Weather Music/Thankyou Music/Valley Of Songs Music/ songs/EMI Christian Music Publishing

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”Hillsong UNITED, (writers) Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, Salomon Ligthelm (publisher) Hillsong Music Publishing/

“Overcomer”Mandisa, (writers) David Garcia, Christopher Stevens, Ben Glover (publishers) Ariose Music/9T One Songs/Meaux Mercy/LarryDavid Music/Capitol CMG Publishing/Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing/D Soul Music

“Revival”Karen Peck and New River, (writers) Kenna Turner West, Karen Peck Gooch, Don Poythress (publishers) Christian Taylor Music/ClearBox Rights/Integrity Worship Music/Eight Oaks Music/Karen Peck Music

“Say Amen”Brian Free & Assurance, (writers) Jason Cox, Michael Farren, Kenna Turner West, (publishers) Christian Taylor Music/Winding Way Music/ClearBox Rights/Farren Love and War Music/Wordspring Music

“That’s Why”Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, (writers) Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, (publishers) Ernie Sig Sound Music/Hefton Hill Music/PsalmSinger Music/Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Songs


Artist of the Year – Cat 6

Casting Crowns, Beach Street Records/Reunion Records

Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Music

Lecrae, Reach Records

Mandisa, Sparrow Records

NEEDTOBREATHE, Atlantic Records

Switchfoot, Atlantic Records


New Artist of the Year – Cat 7

1 Girl Nation, Reunion Records

Andy Mineo, Reach Records

Ellie Holcomb, Full Heart

Hillsong Young & Free, Hillsong Music/Sparrow Records

Love & The Outcome, Word Entertainment


Worship Song of the Year – Cat 19

“Future/Past”John Mark McMillan, (writer) John Mark McMillan, (publisher) Meaux Jeaux Music/Raucous Ruckus Publishing/

“Lord I Need You”Matt Maher, (writers) Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, Matt Maher, (publishers) sixsteps Music/Sweater Weather Music/Thankyou Music/Valley Of Songs Music/ songs/EMI Christian Music Publishing

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”Hillsong UNITED, (writers) Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, Salomon Ligthelm (publisher) Hillsong Music Publishing/

“Open Up The Heavens”Meredith Andrews/Vertical Church Band (writers) Meredith Andrews, Jason Ingram, Stu G., Andi Rozier, James MacDonald, (publishers) Word Music, LLC/Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/Open Hands Music/Stugio Music Publishing/Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing/HBC Worship Music/Sony/ATV

“The Only Name (Yours Will Be)”Big Daddy Weave, (writer) Benji Cowart, (publisher) Word Music, LLC/HowieCowie Publishing


Contemporary Christian Performance of the Year – Cat 3

“Fix My Eyes” for KING & COUNTRY, Fervent/Curb, (producer) Seth Mosley

“Hurricane”Natalie Grant, Curb Records, (producer) Bernie Herms

“Lord I Need You”Matt Maher, Essential Records, (producer) Paul Moak

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Music/Sparrow Records, (producer) Michael Guy Chislett

“Overcomer” – Mandisa, Sparrow Records, (producer) Christopher Stevens & David Garcia

There are 42 categories altogether. Information is also at the Dove Awards site.

Steve Bell Featured in Report On Business

Canada’s leading Christian male vocalist, Steve Bell, was featured on the weekend in Report on Business, the monthly glossy magazine supplement to Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe & Mail.

The article, entitled Digital revolution inspires musician to take different path; begins with the story so familiar to our Canadian readers, the growth of Steve’s music ministry and Signpost Music with partner Dave Zeglinski.  But then…

Five years ago, Mr. Bell and Mr. Zeglinski begun to notice change in the industry…

First, the music industry began migrating to the Internet. The digitization of music had dire consequences on Mr. Bell. It meant that people were less inclined to pay $20 for an album, particularly when they could buy a used copy for a fraction of the price or download some – or all – of the albums online.

In addition, many specialty faith-based bookstores were either shutting down or going broke… This shift was critical to Mr. Bell as each independent’s closing meant one less distribution point for albums and concert tickets.  In a world increasingly moving toward iTunes, and the Big-Box model, old distribution formulas were being shaken…

Complicating matters was the fact that recording a digital product had become so easy; meaning, essentially anyone could get into the ‘music ministry’ business. Adding insult to injury, many of these new entrants were willing to cut their album and ticket prices…

Mr. Bell was fond of an Old Testament-inspired maxim that said “You can’t see the new Jerusalem if you can’t leave the old Egypt.” But what exactly, he and Mr. Zeglinski wondered, did the “new Jerusalem” look like? And while he knew he almost certainly had to let go of some parts of his old business model, what parts were essential to keep?

The article then lists some of the elements of the “different way” of making music the pair are utilizing

…This ‘different way’ meant making some tough choices; one of which included releasing all of the artists they’d brought into Signpost only a few years earlier in order to focus exclusively on Mr. Bell’s music.

A second key change was moving toward articulating a new business model; more specifically, a new funding model that included the launch of IncarNATION Ministries. The organization was created to allow Mr. Bell’s supporters to become modern-day ‘patrons of the arts.’…

…A third key change involved seeking grants available to registered Canadian arts groups, which included Signpost Music. While IncarNATION …had already been in action since 2004, recently it became evident that fundraising efforts needed to be stepped-up…

Click here to link to the entire Report on Business article by Reg Litz.

In another Steve Bell story linked on Wednesday at Thinking Out Loud; Christian Week is reporting that Kindness, Bell’s latest album features a title song written by Brian McLaren.   Yes.   That Brian McLaren.

…Brian McLaren, the controversial evangelical pastor, author and speaker, wrote the title track.

“Here’s a fellow who has written some books that have really stressed a lot of people out!  And for good reason!   But the vitriol that he has received back because of it is shocking,” Bell says. “The mean-spirited responses and almost the hatred that has come from [some] Christians is almost overwhelming. So I found it quite moving that he would be the one to write a song called ‘Kindness.'”

As Bell studied the word “kindness,” he realized the magnitude of it, particularly its root in the word “kin.”

“The only motivation that will ever sustain kindness in the long run is going to be a deep appreciation of a fundamental kinship between all things,” Bell says, adding that it goes back to the kinship in the trinity; “the Son loving the Father and vice versa; “which ultimately results in the Father’s love for us.

“So all of a sudden a word like kindness —kindness — you realize this is no soft word,” Bell says. “This is a big word. This is not sentimental, it’s not sweet … this is [the] fabric of life.”

Continue reading all of Aaron Epp’s article at Christian Week.

As we prepared this story on Friday night to kick off a new year at Christian Book Shop Talk, Steve Bell was experiencing one of the hazards of being a musician on the road:  Stuck in Fargo, North Dakota; unable to make it home for New Year’s Eve.

2011 Grammy Award Christian Music Nominees

This list covers the gospel categories only as announced on Wednesday  and does not include Christian nominees in other categories

Note:  This required a lot of editing and time did not permit readjusting the spacing;  the green name or title, followed by space and then additional credits constitute a single entry.   If someone wants to re-edit this and e-mail the HTML, I’ll repost it.

50. Best Gospel Performance

For solo, duo, group as collaborative performances. Singles or tracks with vocal containing Gospel lyrics. All genres of Gospel music are eligible.

He Wants It All

Forever Jones
Track from: Get Ready
[EMI Gospel]

You Hold My World

Israel Houghton
Track from: Love God. Love People.
[Integrity Music]

Nobody Greater

VaShawn Mitchell
Track from: Triumphant
[EMI Gospel]

He’s Been Just That Good

Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway
Track from: The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III
[Rendezvous Music/ Mack Avenue Records]


BeBe & CeCe Winans
Track from: Still

51. Best Gospel Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Beautiful Things

Lisa Gungor & Michael Gungor, songwriters (Gungor)
Track from: Beautiful Things
[Brash Music]

Better Than A Hallelujah

Sarah Hart & Chapin Hartford, songwriters (Amy Grant)
Track from: Somewhere Down The Road
[Amy Grant Productions/ Sparrow Records; Publishers: River Oaks Music, Publishing, Sony/Tree Music Publishing, Michael Puryear Music]

It’s What I Do

Jerry Peters & Kirk Whalum, songwriters (Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway)
Track from: The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III
[Rendezvous Music/ Mack Avenue Records; Publishers: Whalumusic/Jerry Peters Music]

Our God

Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Chris
Track from: Passion: Awakening
[Sparrow Records / sixstepsrecords; Publishers: Thankyou Music, sixsteps Music/ Songs/Said And Done Music/Vamos Publishing/Jonas Myrin/SHOUT! Publishing]

Return To Sender

Gordon Kennedy, songwriter (Ricky Skaggs)
Track from: Mosaic
[Skaggs Family Records; Publisher: GlennJoy Music]

52. Best Rock Or Rap Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Church Music

David Crowder Band
[Sparrow Records / Sixstepsrecords]

For Those Who Wait

[Flicker Records]

Beautiful Things

[Brash Music]


[Reach Records]

Hello Hurricane

[Atlantic Recording Corp/ Credential Recordings]

53. Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Beauty Will Rise

Steven Curtis Chapman
[Sparrow Records]

Love God. Love People.

Israel Houghton
[Integrity Music]

Pieces Of A Real Heart

Sanctus Real
[Sparrow Records]


Ricky Skaggs
[Skaggs Family Records]


[ForeFront Records]

54. Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Times Like These

Austins Bridge
[Daywind Records]

The Reason

Diamond Rio

Expecting Good Things

Jeff & Sheri Easter
[Spring Hill Music Group/She Loved Music]

Journey On

Ty Herndon
[FUNL Music]

Live At Oak Tree: Karen Peck & New River

Karen Peck & New River
[Daywind Records]

55. Best Traditional Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

The Experience

Vanessa Bell Armstrong
[EMI Gospel]

A City Called Heaven

Shirley Caesar
[Light Records]

Downtown Church

Patty Griffin
[Credential Recordings]

Here I Am

Marvin Sapp

All In One

Karen Clark Sheard
[KaRew Records/ EMI Gospel]

56. Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.

Get Ready

Forever Jones
[EMI Gospel]

Love Unstoppable

Fred Hammond


VaShawn Mitchell
[EMI Gospel]

Aaron Sledge

Aaron Sledge
[EMI Gospel]


BeBe & CeCe Winans

And The Nominees Are…

GMA Canada announces the nominees in a wide variety of categories… many of these artists have a reach beyond the Canadian border and will be known by readers in other parts of the world.  There are many, many diverse categories; the list below simply reflects a few of the major award nominees.

See the whole list here.

Song Of The Year
Causin’ A Commotion – Greg Sczebel (Greg Sczebel)
Hold Us Together – Matt Maher (Matt Maher – Steve Wilson)
Love Came Down – Ben Cantelon (Ben Cantelon)
Rediscover You – Starfield (Tim Neufeld – Jon Neufeld – Ben Glover)
There Is A Way – Newworldson (Newworldson – Thomas “Tawgs” Salter)
Recorded Song Of The Year
Causin’ A Commotion – Greg Sczebel
Hold Us Together – Matt Maher
No Plan B – Manafest
The One (I’m Fighting For) – Article One
There Is A Way – Newworldson
Producer Of The Year
Sebastian Demrey
Andrew Horrocks
Chris Janz
Steve Klassen
Roy Salmond
New Artist Of The Year
Define The Line
Junkyard Poets
Linnea Salte
The Wiebes
Male Vocalist Of The Year
Ben Cantelon
Matt Maher
Mark Masri
Kevin Pauls
Greg Sczebel
Female Vocalist Of The Year
Carolyn Arends
Amanda Falk
Stephanie Israelson
Ali Matthews
Naomi Striemer
Group Of The Year
Hawk Nelson
Thousand Foot Krutch
Artist Of The Year
Matt Maher
Greg Szcebel
Album Of The Year
Alive Again – Matt Maher
The Chase – Manafest
Newworldson – Newworldson
The Saving One – Starfield
Welcome To The Masquerade – Thousand Foot Krutch

Awards in each category will be presented October 29th in Calgary, Alberta

YourMusicZone Website Re-Launch

The consumer website from David C. Cook’s Music & Media division, has was re-launched on Tuesday with a new look and several new features.

This is the hub for both music customers and music staff in Canadian Christian bookstores.

It looks great; it’s functional; it’s going to help the fans of the various sub-genres of Christian music stay on top of product.

Most important, it directs potential customers back to local stores.