Guest / Limited Access /

Large record companies, ignoring weak sales figures for Christian music, continue to move aggressively in purchasing Christian recording labels.

On February 28, the Zomba Group bought Benson Music Group, the last remaining large independent Christian music company, for an undisclosed sum. Zomba, the world's largest independent music company, purchased Brentwood Music three years ago and the Reunion label in October 1996.

That leaves only three corporations holding all major Christian labels: Zomba, EMI (which owns Sparrow, Star Song, ForeFront, and GospoCentric), and Gaylord Entertainment, which bought Word Records from Thomas Nelson in January for $120 million.

Twenty-five Benson employees, about 20 percent of its staff, have been laid off as a result of the acquisition. Another 25 people displaced in the purchase have moved to other positions.

"In a business sense, the acquisition was a matter of creating critical mass," says Jim Van Hook, president and chief executive officer of Brentwood Music. "We wanted to create a big enough base to be efficient."

Executives of secular companies such as Zomba and Gaylord believe Christian music is a sleeping giant, like country music, with growth potential in untapped markets.

"The lyrics speak to faith, and we believe the audience for this type of message is huge," E. W. Wendell, president and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, told his employees in a February meeting. "All that is needed is someone like Gaylord Entertainment to help expand the audience, like we did with country music."

BREAKTHROUGH UNLIKELY: However, Van Hook and music industry observers, including John W. Styll, publisher and executive editor of Contemporary Christian Music magazine, say such a boom will not happen. They say ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
High Court Floating Bubble Zones
High Court Pops Floating Bubble Zones
Recommended
Subscriber Access Only The Lost Art of Commitment
Why we're afraid of it, and why we shouldn't be.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Contemporary Music: Will Christian Music Boom for New Owners?
hide thisApril 28 April 28

In the Magazine

April 28, 1997

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.