What's in a Label?: sixstepsrecords
To fully understand sixstepsrecords means to understand a decade-old movement called Passion, a metaphorical family with its own mother and father figures, four artists who really do act a lot like brothers, and a fairly obscure Old Testament tale about hauling around the Ark of the Covenant.
This record label started like no other and continues to surprise even today. Sixsteps has kept the same small roster of artists for most of its nine-year existence. It has a partnership with industry giant EMI, yet stays involved in every aspect of operations. And at a time when the music business is in universal decline, sixsteps maintains consistently strong sales.
Let's start this story in 1,000 B.C., when the Israelites finally figured out how to return the Ark to Jerusalem. Shelley Giglio, Director of Label Operations, recounts the tale from 2 Samuel 6:13: "It says that they went six steps, laid the Ark of the Covenant down, and then they built an altar and worshiped. Some scholars think they did that every six steps for the several miles to Jerusalem. They were so grateful they were alive—that they'd figured it out, that the glory of God was going to be back with the people of God—all that made them so worshipful that they couldn't go very far without stopping, building an altar, and worshiping." Thus the name, sixstepsrecords.
That name is a reminder to everyone associated with the label of the importance of worship. Shelley Giglio continues, "It's a reminder to me of the purpose for which we were created—that it's really wise for us to worship often, that if we're really going in life much more than about six steps before we figure out how to worship, then we've probably gone a bit too far." The label avoids capitalizing their name as a reminder that it's not about the company, but about God. And they spell their name as one word to show that they operate as a close-knit family.
Worship artist Chris Tomlin agrees. "The heart of sixsteps is the name—the continual place of humility and gratefulness that God has given us this life, that we are alive in his presence, and that we worship him because of his greatness and his holiness."
The sixsteps label started in 2000 but was predated in the mid '90s by a movement called Passion, created to gather college students from around the world to "seek the face of God together in worship and prayer." In time, the artists involved with leading worship at the Passion conferences soon realized something greater than a student gathering was afoot.
"All of the sudden it was this huge thing," recalls worship artist Charlie Hall. "Between the vision of Passion and the guts of it—the movement, the heart, the theology, all mixed with the music and people—it was like a good chemical explosion." Rather than have each of these artists pursue deals with different record labels, the decision was made to start sixsteps.
According to Visionary Architect and Director Louie Giglio, sixsteps and Passion continue to serve a common purpose. "Within the fabric and framework of the Passion Movement, sixsteps is both a way to serve the Church by fostering a worship lifestyle that is about both songs and action, and a way to serve the friends who have been with us on the journey by creating a small community of artists." Collectively, Passion was already an EMI "artist," so it became a natural fit for sixsteps to partner with EMI further.
Surprisingly, there is no clear delineation of duties in that partnership. As Shelley Giglio notes, "We are heavily involved at every level, from who's a part of the label, to what kind of records are made, to what songs go on the records, to how the records sound, who produces them, all the way through to what the end cap looks like in the store and what distribution method we're using for which artist, and everything in between."