Integrity Becoming a Major Player in Christian Entertainment

( [email protected] ) Apr 27, 2004 01:01 PM EDT

Integrity Media, a multimedia company in Christian and Gospel entertainment, added film and video as its third division of operations. While the Nashville entertainment industry has reported downsizing and consolidation, Integrity has been rising as a leader in Christian entertainment to a Christian market that is responding great numbers.

''We've been under the radar, at least to people outside the business,'' said Dan McGuffey, Integrity's chief marketing officer.

Integrity Film and Video will release debut products by the end of summer 2004. Former Word executive Dan Johnson is the now taking charge of the division that will focus on bringing home entertainment products to consumers 18 to 35 years old but will also involve youth to participate through their filmmaking.

Johnson said today's more visually oriented kids are bringing video cameras, computers and editing software to church camp as a previous generation toted guitars.

''Churches are even starting film festivals to … engage young people so they don't have to leave the church to do something ambitious, adventurous and redemptive,'' Johnson said.

Started in 1987, the company went public in 1994 to now include three divisions: INO Record Label that has new releases by gospel veteran CeCe Winans and pop band MercyMe; Integrity Publishers, a book publishing arm that has two books on New York Times bestseller list, Max Lucado's It's Not About Me and the devotional book The Passion; and Integrity Video and Film. Last year, the Alabama-based company experienced sales of $74 million in Christian books, music and other products.

Recently, the most helpful product to growth of the company is the The Passion of the Christ soundtrack, nearing platinum status with more than 500,000 copies sold.

INO Records, Integrity’s Nashville record label made $13 million in sales last year while Integrity Publishing hit $8.2 million in sales.

''That's a clear indication that this is a very large market,'' said Michael Coleman, Integrity's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Currently, Integrity Media is converting from a publicly traded to a privately owned company through a buyout by a company Coleman owns.

Coleman, Integrity's main stockholder who described on the company’s website that mission as “is to praise and worship God” said he doesn’t intend to sell the company to Nashville’s three majors: Word, EMI-CMG or BMG's Provident Music Group.

“We’ve enjoyed being independent,'' he said. ''We're very mission-focused. There's a cause behind what we're doing, a sense of purpose.”