What's in a Label?: sixstepsrecords
Another innovative approach to marketing stresses the link between CD sales and concert tours, and sees sixsteps playing the role of ticket seller. A limited amount of presale tickets are offered to the core fans before general sales. With Tomlin's Hello Love Tour, 8,000 tickets have been pre-sold to people who purchased the CD. Sixsteps' Mike McCloskey notes, "They didn't carry any ticketing fees. Best of all, they're the best seats in the front rows of the venue. It's an amazing deal, and a great reward for those that supported the music by purchasing it legally."
To those outside the industry, it can seem a little bit unsettling to hear talk of ministry and marketing so easily intermingled. Shelley Giglio sees no contradiction. "I don't wake up in the morning and think about marketing. I wake up and think about Jesus. That sets the tone. I'm really not apologetic for wanting to sell a lot of records. I hope we sell a ton of records. But I do understand that resources follow ministry. What makes sense is that people experience something of God in a setting, and then they look for a resource that keeps them connected, and that's what we're providing. You can't get the resource thing ahead of the ministry thing and expect it to be successful. If our guys weren't providing ministry for people in everyday settings in places all over the country, then for me to ship records to store wouldn't make any sense."
The label's artists seem grateful that sixsteps is there to take care of the resources so they can focus on ministry. Crowder notes, "We're afforded the opportunity to think really simply about what we're doing. We're just trying to write songs for a little church in Waco, TX, and it doesn't really go much further than that. It's amazing that things fit elsewhere and it's amazing that we have partners that make it maybe more appealing elsewhere."
Hall is glad he's been able to establish a limited touring schedule with the label's blessing. "[The schedule is] built for the families of our band, so we can live normal lives and not get caught up in the machine of who people think you are. We put a lot of emphasis on being who we are and letting the music flow out of that. [The label has] gotten behind me and let me do ministry at home; they encourage that and love that."
Many have wondered through the years about why sixsteps has resisted expanding its roster of only four artists for so long. Most with the label note the importance of relationship, and the limitation of time and resources. According to Tomlin, however, things might be expanding very soon. "I think we'll be developing some new worship leaders down the road, in the coming years that I'm very excited about," reports Tomlin. "We're in the process of that now."
Another major upcoming change is the planting of a church in Atlanta involving Louie Giglio, Tomlin, and Redman. The latter two have already moved there, though the timeline for development is uncertain, as is the impact on the label. "I see songs coming out of the church," says Tomlin of the new plant. "I see Chris Tomlin still making records, but I also see Passion Church CDs , and that kind of thing. The reason I'm excited about that is we've never been in the same place: me and Redman and Louie."