Eddie DeGarmo is president of Capitol CMG Publishing which has a roster that includes such influential worship leaders as Kirk Franklin, Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Jeremy Camp, David Crowder, Matt Redman, Joy Williams, Aaron Lindsey, Bebo Norman, Tim Hughes, Brenton Brown, and Leeland, among many others.
The following interview is a small preview of the full article that was in the May issue of Worship Leader magazine where DeGarmo offers more insight from his unique vantage point.
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WL: How does the Christian music business differ from the mainstream music industry?
ED: In mainstream music you find an artist, sign him, and try to promote him through traditional channels, such as radio and touring. In Christian music we have access to the Church and the audiences that gather there. The Internet gives worship leaders the ability to have their songs sung by other congregations and adopted by an audience potentially in the millions. Basically what a Christian publisher or record company does these days is to make that content available, essentially for free. For example, we manage a website called WorshipTogether, which is the number one worship website in the world for new material. The tracks, tutorials and chord charts…we give it all away. We have to figure out more ways to monetize that process, for the business and for the artist.
WL: What are some of the most important changes you’ve seen in Christian music recently?
ED: The industry is much more consolidated these days. It’s about half the size it was in the late ’90’s. As a result it’s become much more sophisticated, more focused. Over the last few decades, for example, we’d been left reeling from the effects of piracy. But copyright protection is a lot better today than it has been and that’s a result of getting back to basics.
WL: How does that return to basics affect the artist?
ED: If you’re an artist who’s signed a recording contract, you can pretty much be sure that you’ll be getting a very concentrated and intensive approach to marketing and promotion. The record companies don’t have nearly as many slots to fill these days. They want to make sure that they maximize their efforts with the fewer choices they do make and the chances they take. Because they have such a significant investment they need as much traction as they can right out of the gate. So, out of necessity, they’ve become much better at what they do, which is to make a product highly accessible, adaptable, and most important, marketable.
WL: Is there a difference in the way you market and promote worship music?
ED: Marketing worship music has a different DNA than mainstream or even Christian pop. Christian radio generally is very responsive to worship music. Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons” was number one for 16 weeks in the Christian radio format.
WL: Is it possible to have a music career and an active ministry at the same time?
ED: If you know Christ, having a ministry should be foundational to whatever you do, whether you’re a baseball player or a guitar player. But having a career with a public platform always creates issues. You have to be careful of compromising the way you present yourself. One of masters of dealing with the media and the public is Billy Graham. Whenever he was interviewed and someone would ask him about abortion or other social issues he would always bring it back to the gospel. That’s a good example to follow. It isn’t your answers on the issues of the day that bring people to Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit.