EXPLORING TRENDS IN THE CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY By Beau Black Record companies continue looking for new ways to break new artists and, in turn, sell records. A couple of them have found new uses for an old medium: the EP. Brad O’Donnell, Vice-President of A&R for EMI CMG, took a break from working with new signings Audrey Assad and Sixpence None The Richer (now signed to EMI’s Credential imprint) to talk about how the company’s using shorter releases to launch new and still-emerging artists. “I can’t say it’s not a bit of an experiment, but then every new release is a bit of an experiment,” says O’Donnell. “One thing that’s sure—new artists’ records don’t sell as much as they once did.” Accordingly, he says, “You don’t have as much marketing money or placement at retail,” which makes it even tougher for a new act to get record buyers’ attention. EMI’s approach has been to pool several new releases into an on-going “Now Hear This” campaign. Physical EPs sell for $4.99 ($4.49 for the digital version). If a new artist is a bit of a gamble for a label, they are for the consumer as well. But giving them the EP option gets more music in their hands than a single, without their having to make a real fi nancial commitment. “A consumer will spend $4 where they might not spend $10,” observes Jill Tomalty, Word Records’ Director of Marketing. “If I watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and love The Civil Wars’ song [‘Poison & Wine’], for example, and I can spend $4 and get several songs, I’ll do that.” Word has used EPs as part of a multi-stage rollout of new band Satellites and Sirens, releasing two sets of three songs plus a video, then repackaging those six tracks with four more on a fi nal release. “Hypothetically, it’s great because you don’t have the expense” of the full project right off the bat. (You do have the added expense of, in this case, three rounds of producing the packaging, though.) Both companies are using the format as a “creative way to get more music out,” even with more established acts, as O’Donnell says EMI’s done with staged releases from Jon Foreman and Future of Forestry. “From our standpoint,” says Tomalty, “we’re not thinking about our artists building up to street week—we’re looking at the year like that, constantly supplying new content.” While it’s too soon to say if the approach defi nitively works, “it’s enabled us to get out of the mindset that there’s only one way to break new artists,” O’Donnell concludes. “This is an option that makes it easier for both artist and consumer at a time when it’s really diffi cult to sell music.” “[EPs] have enabled us to get out of the mindset that there’s only one way to break new artists.” –Brad O’Donell, VP of A&R, EMI CMG The EP Route WHAT’S NEXT 44 CCM