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‘We’ve got a deep sense of who the artist is and tips on how to help them.’


Religion-based music is prospering in America.

The Gospel Music Association reviews that 53 million individuals within the US – someplace between a tenth and a fifth of the inhabitants – hearken to Christian & Gospel Music a number of occasions every week.

Shock reality: based on a new midyear report printed by US market monitor Luminate (formerly MRC Data / Nielsen Music), Christian & Gospel Music’s share of whole on-demand streams (1.7%) within the US in H1 2022 was greater than Jazz (0.7%) and Classical (0.9%) mixed.

Probably the most distinguished music firms working within the faith-based house is Capitol Christian Music Group, which tells MBW that, as of December 31 2021, it had a 52.1% frontline share of the faith-based-recorded music market within the US, up from 46.3% in 2020. This contains all the firm’s titles, together with breakout artist NF. 

CCMG claims additional that its publishing division at the moment has a 60% market share of the Prime 10 songs sung in church within the US every week, based mostly on the December 2021 report from Christian Copyright Licensing Worldwide (CCLI), the group that tracks church copyright efficiency licenses.

CCMG’s roots return 45 years to its early days as Sparrow Data, which was arrange by Billy Ray Hearn in 1976, who later offered the label to EMI in 1992.

Previously generally known as EMI Christian Music Group, CCMG now serves because the Religion-based arm of Universal Music Group‘s Capitol Music Group.

Right this moment, CCMG is a powerhouse music firm, encompassing recorded music, publishing and distribution, with front-line labels like Sparrow Data, ForeFront Data, sixstepsrecords, Hillsong Music, Motown Gospel and Worship Collectively working inside the group.


CCMG can be residence to a number of the largest artists and songwriters to have been signed and developed inside the faith-based market. One such artist is mainstream crossover and celebrity rapper NF.

NF scored his first US No.1 in 2017 with Notion and in 2020 induced a significant chart upset when he pipped Probability The Rapper on the submit to achieve No.1 within the US along with his LP, The Search. CCMG says that NF is the largest artist within the firm’s storied historical past, with round 18 billion World Streams up to now, plus 32 RIAA certifications in whole.

Different CCMG success tales embrace  Hillsong, with 7.1 billion North American streams up to now, and Chris Tomlin, who has racked up 4.6 billion World streams.

On the publishing facet, CCMG reviews into Common Music Publishing Group UMPG, and their roster contains the likes of Jonas Myrin, Ellie Holcomb, and hit songwriter Tommee Proffitt, who has 33 RIAA Certifications. 

On the helm of the enterprise are Co-Presidents and revered Christian music executives, Brad O’Donnell and Hudson Plachy.

O’Donnell and Plachy are each CCMG veterans, with their expertise on the firm totaling a mixed 4 a long time. They have been promoted to Co-Presidents in 2019 from their earlier roles as Chief Inventive Officer and Chief Advertising and marketing Officer, respectively.

“Once I joined, plenty of the workers had already been there for a protracted time period,” recollects O’Donnell. “It stood out as what I believed a file firm was. Now, we’re these guys who’ve been there 20 years.”

The execs took over the reins at CCMG from former CCMG Chairman & CEO Peter York, who retired from the corporate in March final yr after a 50-year profession within the music enterprise (together with 37 years in management roles at CCMG).

CCMG tells MBW that, since O’Donnell and Plachy started operating the corporate as Co-Presidents in February 2019, they’ve constantly grown income and revenue annually.

“Brad and Hudson are exemplary music executives, and I’m so grateful that they’re on my crew.”

Michelle Jubelirer, Capitol Music Group

“Brad and Hudson are super companions; for one another because the heads of Capitol Christian Music Group, in addition to for the various artists and songwriters who so tremendously profit from their shared imaginative and prescient, experience and tireless work ethic,” says Michelle Jubelirer, Chair & CEO of Capitol Music Group, talking to MBW.

“Not solely have they led CCMG to its undisputed stature because the chief in faith-based music, they’ve labored intently with all of us inside CMG to attain such nice crossover success with NF and others. Brad and Hudson are exemplary music executives, and I’m so grateful that they’re on my crew.”

This progress, based on CCMG, has been pushed by signing, and breaking, new artists with its artist roster rising by 10 new signings in 2021, to 45 artists.

“We’ve tried to double down on artist growth,” explains Plachy. “It’s nonetheless the important thing to our enterprise.”

One other key a part of the corporate’s progress, based on CCMG, was publishing catalog acquisitions. CCMG says that it closed 10 catalog offers from 2019 by 2021.

“They’re the perfect in figuring out faith-based expertise early and all of us at UMPG are joyful to help them and their roster globally.”

Jody Gerson, Common Music Publishing Group

Commenting on CCMG’s bosses, Jody Gerson, Chairman and CEO of Common Music Publishing Group, tells MBW that, “I belief Brad and Hudson implicitly”.

Provides Gerson: “They’re the perfect in figuring out faith-based expertise early and all of us at UMPG are joyful to help them and their roster globally.”

MBW met with Co-Presidents Brad O’Donnell and Hudson Plachy to speak about their careers in music, CCMG’s positioning inside the faith-based market, and wider music market, and the challenges of breaking mainstream crossover stars…

How did you each get into the music enterprise?

Brad O’Donnell: I obtained a bachelor’s diploma in jazz bass efficiency, and a grasp’s diploma in Jazz Research. Once I was choosing a music city to dwell in, Nashville for lots of causes, was simply very enticing.

My massive plan was to be a session bass participant and songwriter and producer. I did that for a couple of years. However by a sequence of occasions; I used to be with a small, underfunded Indie label and out of a job, I had an opportunity to do A&R.  On the time, our firm was known as Sparrow Data and I admired them. That they had an ideal popularity. It was a giant experiment for me to attempt A&R, however as soon as I began doing it, I cherished it.

In case you’re a songwriter, or a file producer, you’re with an artist for a concentrated time period. We [executives] get to work with artists actually for many years. I cherished that they have been music first, and I admired that artists would signal a number of offers [with Sparrow].

“In case you’re a songwriter, or a file producer, you’re with an artist for a concentrated time period. We [executives] get to work with artists actually for many years.”

Brad O’Donnell

Hudson Plachy:  I didn’t actually perceive the enterprise in any respect the place I grew up, the place oil and fuel [were the main industries]. I went to school, ended up assembly mates that have been in bands, and began to discover what [the business was].

I noticed there’s a chance to serve these artists and songwriters. So I obtained a enterprise administration diploma, however then ended up coming to Nashville and [got into] advertising. And [Sparrow Records] took a danger on me.

To Brad’s level, lots of people have been [at the company] for a very long time. I fell in love with the thought of serving artists, and writers, but in addition fell in love with people who had been there a very long time.  I’m arising on 20 years on the firm. It’s actually the one firm I’ve ever labored for.

You’ve each labored with CCMG for a very long time. it should be reassuring for artists to know that the executives are in for the lengthy haul…

BO:  I’d agree. Previous to working at a music firm, I bear in mind after I was a artistic, I’d assume, “An artist indicators with an organization, however actually, it’s a bunch of people who find themselves addressing your goals and profession”. 

Many artists have this story, the place they work with individuals and by the point the mission is launched, there’s a complete new forged of characters [working with you].

One thing we attempt to do is to create a steady setting for creators as a result of we expect that, not solely does it make the music higher, nevertheless it helps artists achieve the long term. We actually have a deep sense of who the artist is and tips on how to help them.

With Anne Wilson

To what do you owe the success the corporate has seen because you guys took over as Co-Presidents?

HP: A whole lot of that comes from the historical past of the corporate. I don’t know that we will say, “Oh, it’s as a result of we took over, that’s why it occurred”.

The enterprise and the style have been altering and evolving. For us, as leaders, it appears like we have been evolving with it. We’ve got had some key artists and necessary information which have actually supported that evolution of what the style actually seems like and the collaboration with the [Capitol Music Group] tower has been actually essential to that.

Credit score to Michelle [Jubelirer, Chair & CEO of Capitol Music Group]. She’s completed an ideal job of bringing everyone collectively. If there’s a file that’s working, it doesn’t matter what style it comes from, everyone jumps on it and helps out.

That’s been necessary from a faith-based style perspective, to have the ability to spill over into different genres as effectively. That helps the evolution of the [faith-based] enterprise.

“The enterprise and the style have been altering and evolving. For us, as leaders, it appears like we have been evolving with it.”

Hudson Plachy

BO: Clearly now we have benefited, like plenty of firms have, from altering developments within the enterprise. But when I used to be going to provide us credit score, for one factor, it’s that we actually have an distinctive crew.

They’re actually sharp they usually work actually exhausting. They actually care in regards to the artists. We see it, we get emails at six within the morning and at midnight and we see them away from their households at weekends touring with artists.

We’ve got additionally had some actually good information the final couple of years.  We’ve got a couple of artists that, by most measurements, you’d argue are breakout success tales within the trade during the last two years. We the Kingdom two years in the past; Anne Wilson (pictured inset, with Brad O’Donnell, Hudson Plachy ) this yr.

We the Kingdom’s first single was gold. That’s very uncommon for any artist, definitely in our style. Anne is weeks away from having her first single go gold as effectively.

I’ve learn that church attendance is declining in america. Is {that a} concern, if you’re working within the faith-based market?

BO: What we understand is a little bit little bit of an evolution, by way of how individuals work together with their religion, but in addition with our music.

A whole lot of it has moved to live-streaming. So at first, individuals have been watching their church sermon [online] when Covid began.

What we noticed is our songs being sung, or are nonetheless getting used as a lot, or greater than they have been previous to COVID. So by way of the way it’s been affecting our songwriters, we’re not seeing a drop-off.

That’s additionally a results of our shut working relationship with Jody Gerson at UMPG and her crew. They’re extremely supportive of our enterprise and writers, serving to the place we want the affect and experience of a big, world Publishing firm but in addition trusting us to do what’s greatest on a day-to-day foundation for our songwriters.

May you discuss us by investments you’ve revamped the previous few years which have performed into your means to extend your profitability?

HP: Breaking new artists continues to be going to be a very powerful factor. So after we’ve obtained one thing, we make investments. If we really feel it out there, we make investments.

We’ve seen that with new and creating artists, after which now we have plenty of artists that we’ve labored with for a number of years and have long-term relationships with.

What we discovered is that, particularly throughout COVID, there was extra curiosity within the faith-based market, as a result of [consumers] are at residence, they’re hanging out with their household. We over-index on platforms like Pandora and Amazon, as a result of they’re extra ‘at residence’ music companies.

It’s a cliché, and our radio stations say this, however [faith-based music] is protected for the household; we discover that to be true. We attempt to double down on a few of these alternatives.

“Breaking new artists continues to be going to be a very powerful factor. So after we’ve obtained one thing, we make investments.”

Hudson Plachy

BO: One other key funding we’ve made is the roster. We’ve elevated the roster dimension by about 30% during the last couple of years. There was extra music and extra artists as a result of they have been at residence and releasing the music.

The opposite massive strategic funding we made was in worldwide music. Religion-based music for a very long time was not solely a distinct segment, nevertheless it was actually extra [popular] in English-speaking nations.

Streaming companies present us the information so we will see the music getting used and engaged with all around the world.  

We’ve added positions to the business partnerships crew to help that and we’re speaking extra to our worldwide companions world wide.

In what world markets are you seeing an elevated curiosity in faith-based music? And what markets are you attempting to get into?

BO: We take a look at the information on a regular basis, so it adjustments. Someplace that’s all the time on the high is the Phillippines. We’re seeing Latin America generally develop fairly a bit.

HP: Africa is rising for us now.

BO:  We’ve completed some distinctive partnerships with UMG Africa. We’re bringing worldwide repertoire in however then we’re additionally signing artists based mostly [overseas]. We simply closed a cope with an artist out of South Africa. We’re enthusiastic about bringing her to the US.

HP: Brazil’s an incredible, rising marketplace for us. In China, we’re beginning to actually see exercise there. I’d say that total, Africa has plenty of progress alternatives. So if you ask what markets we wish to see progress in, we see so much in Africa, as a result of within the faith-based music house, there are plenty of artists which might be coming from there.

L-R: Hudson Plachy, Michelle Jubelirer, Tauren Wells, Brad O’Donnell, Mitchell Solarek

How exhausting is it for artists working within the faith-based market globally to have mainstream crossover hits like NF, for instance? And, is it your purpose to attain that?

BO: That’s our first dialog with artists. “The place do you see your music? Who’s your shopper.”

That’s what’s good about the best way we’re structured, is that if an artist or a songwriter says they actually wish to attain the American faith-based shopper, now we have these channels huge open. And we all know tips on how to get to them

However to your level, when an artist has a imaginative and prescient for the music that’s broader than that, that’s the place our partnership with CMG actually is available in.

We all know tips on how to mobilize that, now we have relationships with individuals. The opposite facet of it’s that the music world, throughout each style, has turn into so data-driven.

Our job is to be aggressive and entrepreneurial, and try to get one thing began the place there are numbers. That allows us to take it additional.

HP: The Capitol Music Group system has been actually useful with that. An artist can come to us and say, “You understand what, I wish to make a faith-based file. And I would like [Christian] radio, are you able to guys assist me get some information off the file?”

We are able to work with Michelle [Jubelirer] and Jacqueline [Saturn, President of Virgin Music Label & Artist Services]  to work out the place we go together with this as a imaginative and prescient past simply our market.

It’s not simple to do this, but when we will develop an viewers  [in the faith-based market], after which carry that viewers to the bigger market, then they’re there to assist carry it.

BO: The extra usually it occurs the extra there’s proof of idea. An important instance is an artist who’s in one other system that we have been massive followers of, named Tauren Wells (pictured inset). We believed even earlier than we began conversations with Tauren that his music might attain an viewers past a conventional faith-based viewers.

Once we went to Michelle [Jubelirer] and Capitol they agreed, they usually stated, “Let’s do it collectively”. So from day one, they’ve locked arms with us. He’s very acutely aware of the faith-based base he’s constructed already, however we’re going to see if we will construct on that with Capitol’s assist.

Kanye West

How a lot of an impression do celebrity artists have available on the market once they make faith-based music?  Kanye West is an effective instance, along with his Jesus is King Album. How a lot of an impression does that form of mission have on the faith-based market?

HP: A large impression.  There are plenty of alternatives that it brings to different artists and songwriters in that house to collaborate with artists who’ve huge platforms like that.

So the impression has been substantial on the broader consciousness of the style generally. That’s a very wholesome and superb factor for the style.

BO: Did Kanye’s file impression on our market? For certain. However it’s greater than the impression of the broader market by way of an consciousness of Religion-based music and the enchantment that it could possibly have.

That file was actually known as Jesus is King. There’s no query what he’s writing songs about. However he confirmed the world, together with us and our artists, what’s attainable.

Why would an artist wish to signal with you relatively than one other firm else working within the faith-based house?

BO: We’re very massive on relationships. We by no means simply signal a cope with somebody after one dialog and since we just like the music and have good numbers.

What we’re in search of is a deeper reference to the artist. Hudson and I’ve nice confidence that, if we actually like an artist and the music, and we will get them into our constructing to satisfy with our crew, that’s going to be the set off.

That’s the place we hope [an artist would say], “I’ve massive goals and ambitions, and I believe that is the crew that would take me there”.

“What we’re in search of is a deeper reference to the artist.”

HP: There’s an enthusiasm, to Brad’s level in our crew.

We’ve completed an excellent job of constructing a crew that basically loves what they do. Loving music. That’s what it comes right down to. And that’s why we obtained within the enterprise. You’re keen on the music. You’re keen on the artists and you’re keen on who you’re working with. The primary file I marketed was the primary file A&R’d by Brad, so I’ve been working with this man for 20 years.

You don’t wish to say household, as a result of that makes it really feel bizarre, however it’s [like family]. You’re within the trenches collectively.

And that comes by when an artist is available in to satisfy our crew. [CCMG] based mostly round serving the artist, it’s not about something apart from making that artist’s platform greater than it’s now. We have been taught that as we grew up, that it wasn’t about us. The enterprise doesn’t exist with out the artists and songwriters.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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