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Ed Leonard Interview

Ed Leonard
Daywind Music Group

Daywind Records, New Day Records, Daywind Music Publishing and VP of New Day Distribution (Curb/Word, Fair Trade, Gotee, Capitol Christian, Tooth and Nail, Reach, and more), serves these family-owned businesses in leadership and general counsel roles. Daywind Records/New Day Records are home to such great artists as Greater Vision, Karen Peck and New River, Brian Free and Assurance, the Guardians, Southbound, The Sound, Crabb Family, Joseph Habedank, Michael Booth, Tribute Quartet, the Nelons, Jim and Melissa Brady, LeFevre Quartet, Wilburn and Wilburn, Adam Crabb, Michael Booth, High Road, TrueSong, and more.)


Career Capsule: Leonard is licensed attorney in the State of Tennessee, practicing primarily in entertainment law and intellectual property. A 30-year veteran of the music industry, Leonard is president and chairman of the Christian Music Trade Association and a Gospel Music Association board member. He and his wife, Kathleen, live in Hendersonville, TN.


Ed, Tell us about what’s new with you, your latest adventures, happenings at Daywind Records?

We are busy with creating more music than ever at Daywind Music Group. Our writers are writing, and our groups are recording and touring, making up for time lost to the pandemic. I am spending time advocating for the rights of creators facing rapidly approaching threats from artificial intelligence, among other issues. Personally, my kids are home from college and my daughter Rachael is getting married this summer.  There is always something happening at home!  

Since you have a such a busy schedule, how do you best manage your responsibilities and priorities?

I wish I was better at this, but I try to give our people the time they need to discuss content and strategy along with using goal-setting and to-do lists to manage my own time. We have such amazingly talented people at Daywind who put God first and creators next, working to get the best music and worship tools recorded, marketed, and distributed as far and wide as possible.


Complete this sentence: The best way to get a new artist recognized is to____________?

First, make great music. Next, radio and digital services are VITAL to introducing an artist and their music to the world.  And, the artist needs a team around them (production, imaging, marketing, distribution, and more) to build relationships with the people who can help get the music noticed while the artist tours and build relationships with their fans.


Generally speaking how do you see the state of Christian radio?

For the Southern Gospel genre we work in, I am noticing that the quality of playlists are improving dramatically. Our friends at radio are supporting the core artists while giving new artists a chance to make an impact and build fans for themselves and other artists in the genre. We could not do what we do without the support of radio, and we are so grateful that they recognize the importance and growth of Southern Gospel music in the hearts of fans. I have always said that people “grow into” Southern Gospel. It is a music that is Gospel-laced and not Gospel-based. As Christians mature in their faith (and get a little closer to Heaven), they yearn for the lyrics and melodies of Southern Gospel.


Regarding record sales how has it changed ….please explain?

In general, sales of physical products are in decline, but in Southern Gospel music, a lot of the consumers still want to own the music and support the artists through purchases.  We have seen great growth in vinyl album sales along with USB flash drives containing the music which can be played in cars and computers if there is no cd player in the car. Streaming has not yet been embraced by Southern Gospel fans at the level of other genres in Christian music. The best way a fan can support the artists and songwriters in Southern Gospel is by attending concerts and purchasing their music and merchandise. 


What promotions with radio have you been involved with personally that are most memorable?

We have had so much fun in the past with promotions, and still do.  The most memorable for me was when the Crabb Family gave away a Mini Cooper to promote the release of their Driven album. Recently, we sent out tambourines to draw attention to Karen Peck and New River’s release “Dance.” I remember early on we sent out a flour-based bread mix to support a single and received calls back that the bags had broken in transit and created quite the mess when the DJs opened them up.


Do you feel the record/radio relationship is still as important as it has been in the past………..explain how its same/different?

Radio has been so wonderful to us. Three years ago, we changed our approach to promotion and began serving the stations with more than the music.  We hired Greg Goodman (Salem) and had him set about creating daily content radio DJs could use on their programs.  Called “Daywind Radio Show Prep,” the daily email features interviews and specials with artists across the industry, not just on the Daywind roster.  Feedback has been wonderful. The fans get more insight into the songs and the artists, and radio has access to material it would take a great deal of time and effort to gather on their own. 


Who are your industry heroes, people you admire and look up to?

There are so many to mention.

My mom – Dottie Miller, Bill Hearn, Jeff Moseley, Ken Harding, Terry Hemmings, Ed Harper, Gerald Wolfe, Karen Peck, Brian Free, Dusty Wells, and many more.

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