”Preachers of LA” star and gospel singer Deitrick Haddon is no longer with RCA Inspiration, a record label dedicated to gospel artists. Now, most people are saying that it is related to his indiscretions and the drama that surrounded it. I am here to say no, it is just the different times at labels.
After 12 years with RCA Inspiration, Haddon’s relationship ended with the “Best of Deitrick Haddon,” which was released on Sept. 2. Which has been on Top 20 Billboard Charts for 4 weeks.
Haddon put out six studio albums with the label. His best-selling project was “Lost And Found” — his debut album with the label, which sold an impressive 259,262 albums. His final original album “R.E.D. (Restoring Everything Damaged)” was released on Sept. 3 in 2013. I interviewed him at length about this album. We spent a solid hour talking about everything on the album. You can read this here: Track By Track Review: Deitrick Haddon-‘R.E.D. (Restoring Everything Damaged)’ I asked detailed question. He answered honestly. Completely, unapologetically honestly. He knew up front that I just wanted the truth and had no intentions of grinding an axe. The album was and is what I consider to be one the greatest albums I have heard in the last 20 years.
It should be noted that Deitrick’s label contract was signed during the old days of label life. I know this because I spent a good chunk of my adult life working at a major label, (not Sony) before I became lead editor here. Labels would sign 10 -12 album deals years ago. No one gets deals like that now.
Basically, the business models for labels have changed. Life for gospel artists have changed. The landscape for “gospel” as we know it is extremely small with very few major labels being interested at all. During Deitrick’s last album, Sony was in a huge transition period. There were other artists who were involved in the revamp as well. I will not tell you who they are because I respect their business change. Let’s just say it was rough. REAL rough. Major labels have never really focused on gospel/christian music. It was like country , jazz, classical and blues, a category that has a set audience and has little to no room for growth. They may be rethinking that since Lecrae’s album went number 1. They may be rethinking it since eOne national has started killing the game.
With that being said, here is the story straight from Deitrick Haddon:
The real reality is that labels DO NOT CARE ABOUT PERSONAL STRIFE. Really, the more you talk about an artist the happier they are. The only kind of bad press there ever is, is NO PRESS. Good music crosses boundaries if there is exposure.
The hardest thing for gospel artists right now, is to get exposure. They sweeten up the message so that it is marked or called”positive music”.
Here are a few basic facts:
– 1 There are major markets in the U.S. that do not have a major gospel radio station (FM frequency).
-2 Gospel artist do not have the same opportunity to large venues for concerts. The King’s Men was groundbreaking in that it actually was a nationally placed tour with sets and full promotion on local R&B stations.
-3 R&B stations stay away from gospel music except on Sunday morning specialized programs. Years ago, before the regimented playlists were implemented, a really great gospel song could get played. Mary Mary and Kirk Franklin benefited from that. Shackles and Stomp are perfect examples.
-4 Standard variety music shows still turn down positive acts that fit their demographic because it is not sexy. The Walls are a perfect example. They are just as good as any teen act out there now. Yet, no Today Show, no Good Morning America, No 106 & Park. Ask yourself why? If you listened to the album you would notice that there is no beat you in the head message. It is fun good music. If radio can be terrestrially broadcasted and also streamed online, why not put positive music with messages in kids’ ears?
These are the real factors in what has happened at the majors. Many decisions at labels are made because they believe in the absolute demographic model. Most people don’t know that Christian radio stations base their music programming on a fictitious listener they call “Becky,” a woman in her 30s or 40s, married, with kids, typical soccer mom. Which explains why almost all Christian/Gospel radio is jam packed with traditional gospel, adult contemporary, pop or light rock with the same 6 songs from a handful of big name artists. I live in the NY market and I can tell you we not only do not have an FM gospel radio station, but we have an AM station that plays the same 12 songs. It shows when you look at the Billboard Charts that there is little to no movement. There is a single that is being played right now in radio in the top 10 for over 80 weeks. Yet, there have been several albums that have great tracks and have never once entered the Billboard hot singles.
You don’t find much cutting edge music on the radio and it’s difficult for a band to break in, because there are so few spots open for new acts. Each week, a station may add one new song, but have a hundred to choose from. A gospel artist who I will not name said to me “It’s hard to make ends meet when you can’t get enough real trustable bookings.”
We saw this happen earlier this year with Vickie Winans at an event that had a questionable reputation. I spoke with a few of the artists and the management involved. Everyone left disheartened and sad. Read Gospel Gala Turns ‘Gangsta’ [VIDEO]- Update to see what I am talking about.
These are the harsh, ugly facts of the business of Gospel/Christian music. How do we solve this? Television bookers be open to talent not just genre. Gospel/Christian artists step outside the standard areas and be adventurous with bookings. You may never know what doors it can open. The time for the mega tour for gospel and Christian music has come. Travel with a festival that hits more than one market. Mix the line-ups up. Where is the Christian- Gospel version of the Scream tour? There are enough artists. There are festivals all over the country, but why not save money and create one big touring festival that hots all the markets with A & B lists? Radio One Fest does it with an annual Praise event in Philly.
The Christian Gospel music business as we know it must change. The secular music business is suffering from the same stagnation as well. This is the time.
Make sure to read:
- Three Winans Brothers Team Up For Gospel Supergroup
- Donnie McClurkin Answers Throat Cancer Rumors
- Charles Jenkins On How He Achieves Balance In His Life [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
- An Afternoon With 3 Winans Brothers In A Local Land [EXCLUSIVE]