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Posted 27 Aug 2001   For week ended August 10, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 10Aug01

By Kent Larsen

Major LDS Music Websites Make News

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- An article in the Deseret News this past weekend looked at three major LDS music websites, discovering a growing collaborative movement that "isn't just church hymns and choir music anymore." The article looked at, an LDS music directory, and and, two "Internet Radio" websites that stream music to listeners. But while the collaborative nature of these websites is spreading familiarity with LDS music, all three are part-time efforts with varying amounts of investment and it remains to be seen if any of these efforts can become a self-supporting operation.

Probably the most useful of the three is, which is more a directory of LDS musicians than the others, something like the popular music site As such it has the most complete list of LDS musicians available, although some notable artists, such as Low and Randy Bachman are missing, as are any musicians no longer performing (such as The Guess Who or Bachman Turner Overdrive or Joe Bennett). And owner Jefferson Fairbanks, a Boise, Idaho PhD who is chief of medical physics at Boise's St. Luke's Regional Medical Center, credits this with some of his success, "People are so interested in learning about others who are LDS. Take She-Daisy or Tal Bachman -- most people don't know they are LDS, and they are intrigued by that."

His involvement in music and the arts is no surprise, however, Fairbanks is the grandson of prominent LDS sculptor Avard Fairbanks, and is a musician himself. Currently and its sister website do not receive any revenue, but still attract about 50,000 page views each month -- all from word-of-mouth advertising. Like the other music websites, avoids copyright trouble because artists donate their songs for use on the site, and have the responsibility for making sure that they have cleared copyright with the music's composer. developed after founder John Hesch offered an MP3 file of Janet Clayton Sloan's song "Love Is A Verb" on his Home and Visiting Teaching website, . When he got a strong positive response, and lots of downloads, he decided to bring in other musicians. That developed into offering the music in streaming audio, and last November, a radio station.

After starting with just 6 LDS musicians, Hesch has steadily added music from musicians and even from publishers, who have donated dozens of albums at once, giving Hesch a large list of music to draw from. Recently, KZION's challenges have been mostly technical, with connectivity problems sometimes interrupting the server's connection and users sometimes hitting his capacity of 30 to 40 simultaneous listeners. And Hesch admits that the idea of running an LDS radio station has excited him. "Yea, this is kind of like a dream for me," he told Mormon News last November, "I've always wanted to be a DJ and in a simple kind of way I can do that here."

In contrast, has enough capacity, and slightly different goals. Run by Las Vegas intellectual property attorney and musician Robert Graham, EnsignRadio is trying to promote high-quality digital music by LDS musicians as well as by Christian musicians. Graham's biggest frustration is that so many recordings he receives are not the high-quality digital broadcast quality sound he wants, "There are lots of talented musicians out there, but many of them have four track recordings, and that's not really broadcast quality sound. Right now there's just not a lot of financial motivation for them to move into this kind of technology."

But Graham does have a vision of what LDS radio could be, "I'm kind of a techno buff, and saw the future of radio moving away from AM/FM toward Internet-based radio. I felt that taking an early step would be a smart thing to do." So Graham has spent $100,000 on file servers and equipment, and hopes to attract artists that are the highest quality, "Obviously people like Gladys Knight, Thurl Bailey and Colors can provide that kind of sound. But I'm looking at having to provide hours and hours of music and always having to upgrade and give people something fresh." But since, Graham says, he only gets one new LDS CD of sufficient quality every two months, he is mixing in some Christian music to fill out the programing. He says that the LDS market is about 10 years behind the Christian market, "We're getting artists now that are learning to produce more of a pop sound. The essential talent is there, but it needs to be developed a little and people in the industry haven't turned their focus to the LDS market -- yet."


LDS Music Comes to Web
Deseret News 4Aug01 I4
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor

See also:

KZION Radio May Begin Independent LDS Radio

LDS Radio 'Instrumental' Channel Suspended


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