Guest Post: Chris White on the NQC Live series

Chris White, who (together with Mickey Gamble) leads Crossroads music, graciously agreed to submit a guest post going into detail about how material is selected for the NQC Live series. He addresses a number of issues raised in this post.

Crossroads has partnered with NQC for the past seven years to produce NQC Live.  My responsibility is to provide all of the audio for television and retail products for the event.  We do this at our cost, then receive the rights to produce this product in order to help re-coup our cost and hopefully, make a profit.  NQC is only partially involved in these selections with most of the determination being mine.  Once I satisfy their requirements, the rest is pretty much up to me.  Daniel, in light of the comments I read, I would like to address a few of them so your readers better understand the elements that go into producing NQC Live.  It might also help them understand that many things that happen in the business that seem strange to them, very often have a valid reason that makes sense with awareness.  Not always, but most of the time.  I will address some of these questions in the order they were written.  First I would like to give an overview of the process.

First off, my only selection options are from Thursday through Saturday.  That’s when the video production is upgraded from Monday through Wednesday.  So, my choices have to be taken from the last three nights of convention.  I have about one week after convention to decide what this product will turn out to be.  I am required, by NQC, to have this product to them by the first of December and on the retail shelves by December 15th.  That is simply part of the contract.  This is to capture some Christmas sales and get them the product to sell to their direct buyers.  So, I have about a week to review all the footage, listen to the best of the best audio and make the selections.  Audio is critical because there is no time to fix anything other than some tuning.  Therefore, sometimes selections will make it or not, based on the audio performances.  Some will or will not make it because a group you want…does a cut you want…and they’re on at 11:00.  Many times there are hundreds, if not thousands of empty seats in the arena.  We trim lighting as best we can to cover that but many times we just can’t cover all the emptiness.  Camera’s can’t put people in seats and I’m not going to show a half empty building.  I wish I had a month to do all this review but it has to be to our engineers no later than a week or so after convention is over.  That takes another 6-7 days of mixing and fixing what we can, then it goes to video editing…then manufacturing…retail set up and shipping to other distributors and stores.  At Crossroads, we normally have 4-6 months to start and complete a project before it hits the shelves.  With NQC Live, I have about 4-6 weeks to prepare it for market.  As you can see, there is little wiggle room on the timeline.

There are a lot of reasons and constraints that help determine these selections and I’ll mention some of those in my response to your readers.  One of those is royalties.  Last year we moved the retail down to $19.99, including the free CD.  With every move I make, I am doing my best to be aware of total cost including event investment, manufacturing, packaging, royalties..both audio master licensing as well as video sync royalties and….any other cost associated with the project.  So, every element that appears on the project, has a cost associated with it.  Therefore to be profitable, there is a thin line on what all can make the project based on every element having two cost associated with each cut.  Those are master licenses and sync.  Considering our discounts to other distributors and retailers, making a profit on a $19.99 retail piece of product, containing all these elements, can be challenging.  If I could load up the project with everything people would like to see, including me, we would have to retail it for at least $29.99 and trust me when I say….that won’t fly!!

Now just let me address some of the individual statements made by you and your readers.  Daniel you say there are only 12 songs on the project when in years past, there have been 15.  Actually in some years there were more than that.  However, as economies change, I have to change with them.  For example, master license fees can increase….which they have…. as well as negotiated sync royalties.  There were in fact 14 songs on the project, including the bonus footage and the comedy segments by Tim Lovelace, Aaron Wilburn and Ken Davis.

Let me explain why Save Me A Seat didn’t make it, which is one of the songs you mentioned.  Jeremy is my nephew through marriage.  I would have loved to have included that cut because he is a family member and he and my niece Nikkei, have been through a tuff couple of months of losses.  First my mom died and then right behind that, Jeremy looses his father.  So trust me when I say that it would have been much more important to ME to include that, than to anyone else.  It would have meant a lot to our family.  However, I couldn’t include it because that was the cut I used from Brian in 2007.  I made the mistake a few years ago of repeating a song the following year.  One out of 15 was a repeat and “some good Christian people” got so angry over the mistake, they returned the product for a refund!!!  So as much as I would have wanted that cut on the project, it couldn’t happen.

Statue Of Liberty.  I considered the cut for obvious reasons.  However, as moving as it was in the hall, the audio would have taken a lot of work and that was time I didn’t logistically have.  He Locked The Gates by The Kingdom Heirs.  That would have been a good choice but I had already decided that I wanted to save it for possible inclusion next year, plus it is still a strong selling component on their current project.   So, I used their top ten nominated cut from this past year, Jesus Made A Believer Out Of Me.

Let me take a moment and explain why certain cuts are, or are not, included.  Someone accused me of not wanting to promote Daywind singles that are flying up the charts.  Now let’s think that through.  Out of the 14 cuts on the project, 50% are Daywind or independent artist.   If this was all about Crossroads, I would fill up the project with our artists.  However, I try my best to make it industry inclusive.  I would love to use the “hot” Daywind songs but one must remember, I have to license all cuts from whomever owns the master rights.  They are seldom, if ever, going to license me a song that is still a strong sales component on that artists current record.  I even enforce that rule on myself from time to time…i.e. He Locked The Gates.  I submit the artists and the selected songs to whoever is the master owner.  In the case of Daywind, I have asked for certain cuts in the past, only to be turned down.  I don’t blame them for saying no but hey….I tried.  Another reason for that is that a lot of artists perform their “sugar sticks” year after year.  In a lot a cases, they don’t have a choice because that’s what people want to hear.  Do you think McCray Dove wants to do Rain or Get Away every year?  No.  But if he didn’t…people would hang him from the first balcony rail they could find.  He does it because he knows the audience wants him to.  So, when it’s all said and done, my choices become very limited because I have either used the cut before, or it’s a current hit that I cannot get licensed.  Not in every case…but in many.  So yes, if I could use the biggest..hottest..best songs available, I would.  Therefore, I choose based on my knowledge of what I believe I can get licensed and that is what I go with.  I submit those choices to Daywind, or whoever the master owner might be, for their approval.  If they approve the license, I put it on and if not…I have to go to plan B.

Now on to some of your readers comments.

Kyle comments that he is not surprised that Gaither and Ernie are not on the project.  Kyle has somewhat of a handle on it by saying we couldn’t afford it.  The fact of the matter is that I would have a better chance of getting Elvis back from the dead to appear on this product, than I would of getting Gaither or Ernie (record company) to license the footage.  Why would anyone conclude that I would not want Gaither or Ernie on the project?  That’s money!  Gaither won’t even let us record the showcase they do, much less license anything.  If any of you can pull that off for me….I’ll take it.  The entire Gaither thing is something I just don’t need to get into.

Bev say’s that she may not buy the project because of some missing people and that soloist were included.  The artists were Perry’s, Triumphant, Inspirations, (SS and Gaither have been addressed).  She was also bothered by the fact that Ivan and Janet were included saying it is a quartet and trio business.  Let me take these in order.  Bev you may be shocked, as you put it, that the Perry’s didn’t make it.  I do normally include them.  However this year, about the only thing they did that I felt was usable, or hadn’t already been used, was a song I knew would not get licensed…If You Knew Him.  So, I was left with no good choice on the Perry’s.  I love them and have known them for many, many years.  As I said, I normally include them.  This year just didn’t work out.  As far as the other artists you mention, I have to stop somewhere.  I can’t give you…well maybe I could but I’m not going to….specific reasons for all artists inclusions or omissions.  I say that respectfully so please take it that way.  You ask why Ivan and Janet were on the project.  I respectfully disagree with you that this should be all quartets and trio’s.  If that were true, soloists would not be on NQC main stage.  I made the product reflect what the NQC board booked…quartets…trio’s…soloist.  Besides, let me assure you since we represent both artists, the fans love Ivan and Janet.  They are both still strong in the market and since I am looking for name value with a proven record, they qualify.  I have already addressed your suggestion that all songs should be their #1 hits.  More often than not, that’s never going to happen because of licensing issues.

Tyler says that it’s really not a highlights video anymore.  Actually, the model of the project has never changed.  It’s always been performances from the main stage, showcase highlights, comedy and at other times, something we can get a camera crew loose to shoot….such as the softball game.  Though Tyler says that this project doesn’t nearly do justice to what NQC has to offer, I’m not sure what more I could do to include all the aspects of NQC.  Buyers want the “music” and that is a proven fact.  That’s what the project is built around.  I am open to any suggestions and would take them all seriously.  Anything that would enhance NQC Live would certainly be a plus.  I have struggled with “freshness” on this product for years but after all, it is what it is.  Just keep in mind that the constraints of contractual issues and other logistical problems, might prove prohibitive in certain situations.

Jbb says that he agrees with Bev and will not buy the product.  I’m sorry for that.  Jbb brings up a group that has not been mentioned and that is Legacy 5.  The reason for that is that I was aware that Frank was leaving and that would automatically date the product from the get go.  I included them in the bonus footage so they were at least on the project, just not listed as Leg 5.  Whether that makes sense to you or not, I don’t know.  To me, it gave them the face time they deserve, without dating the project with the coming change.  I would also say to jbb that the artists included are also what southern gospel is all about and to suggest anything other, is puzzling at best.

Andrew made a couple of comments that I will address.  As for the Collingsworth, they did do a great job.  We represent them as well so it would behoove our cause to have included them.  Why wouldn’t I want them included over another company’s artists or an independent?  However, if I had done that, someone else would have complained because someone else was left off.  Hopefully I have made the point clear that for a number of reasons, I have to stop somewhere.  In my opinion, they have another year or so to keep building name value for the sake of the retail shelves.  I do believe with the same performance level next year, which I’m sure they will deliver, they could possibly be included.  Andrew, when you say that you would pay a “lot” of $$ to see the Perry’s performance of I Wish I Could Have Been There,  so my question would be….how much money are we talking about?  That’s an exciting quote!  I can certainly get you a copy of that performance…..or you could simply buy Volume 4 which includes the cut.

In conclusion all I can say is this…..and I say it respectfully to all.  I haven’t responded because I felt fearful by all the comments.  I simply wanted to give insight to the process.  If we felt that we needed to address all the opinions, by all who have their take on our business , that’s all we would get done.  We as industry leaders often read, or are told of conversations such as this one, where some facts could maybe enlighten people who love the music and the industry.  I’m thrilled that all of you are engaged.  Whether my reasons are accepted or not is not really my concern because I can only change the opinions…or clarify the facts….to those who “really” want to understand the facts.  That’s all I hope to do with this response.  I know all of you won’t appreciate what I have tried to do here but, I think many of you will.  It’s not your fault that you don’t understand all the details concerning many subject matters in our business, because you are not always aware of the entirety of some situations.  I’m sure there are things about your jobs where I may not understand the thinking, simply because I don’t understand your entire process.  Again, all I have hoped to do here is to explain some of your concerns based on all the timelines, constraints, contractual obligations, as well as a basket full of other issues, that I am faced with in putting this project together.  I do my best every year to produce a great product, as best I can, under the aforementioned conditions.  I’m sorry that some of you are so disappointed in the final product.  It took a mountain of work, by a lot of people, to make it happen at all.  To those of you who will enjoy the product….good listening.  Thank you.

Chris White
Crossroads Entertainment & Marketing


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52 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Hey Chris,
    I can fully understand most of those decisions, but not the one about Legacy 5. I think Frank was such a favorite that more people would buy it knowing this was their last opportunity to purchase something with the singing of a great singer and great person. I think it would have been enhanced it the song had featured Frank…(the song you didn’t put on the video..lol)

    • I do understand his reasoning, though … plus, Frank does appear in the extras. 🙂

    • This is good, healthy dialogue. Props to Chris White for his very detailed response.

      Now, on to the nit-picking… :o)

      Nah, not so much…but I do think Chris made the wrong choice on including L5 in the main section of footage. Including footage with Frank does date the product, but in the minds of most fans who buy it, the product is dated anyway. For a few years, it was even issued with the year as part of the title.

      Fans who attended NQC and heard Frank Seamans sing there certainly aren’t going to be surprised when they see him on the video.

      Now sure, fans who attend a L5 concert after January 1, but didn’t attend NQC may not realize the change was so recent. Those fans might incorrectly get the idea that Crossroads pulled footage from an earlier year. That issue is moot, though, now that the product comes out with a volume number rather than referencing the specific year.

      • David. Again you could be right along with DJ. I guess there is a point to the product being dated, but that’s not the way I see it. JMO. Besides, I never take anything you say very seriously anyway….JUST KIDDING! Thanks for your take.

    • Come to think of it, NQC is inherently a dated product anyhow, inherently a snapshot in time.

    • DJPhil. You may be exactly right. It was just the decision I made which certainly doesn’t mean it was the right one. I’m often faced with “a lot” of decisions in this process but it sure doesn’t mean I hit the nail on the head every time. This is one I struggled with. Thanks.

  2. chris,
    thank you so much for taking the time to give us all this information. i understand things much better now, and i appreciate all you do! as fans/friends/listeners, we often forget about (or are ignorant to) the “business” side of so-go, and i thank you again for enlightening us. =)

    daniel,
    things like this are what make your site so great. keep up the good work!

    • Thanks! Well, I honestly can’t take credit for it. 🙂

    • Thanks Elisabeth.

  3. Nuff said……Do I like it, no. Do I understand, a little more. Thanks for explaining.

    • Sometimes I don’t like it either jbb. Thanks for caring.

  4. Great post all around. Thanks for taking the time to explain some of these things that don’t always make sense to us the fans … This was a fascinating read; I took it slow and learned a lot!

    • Your welcome Amy.

  5. I agree… great read. We forget, too often, that there are factors involved that we don’t know about in many of the decisions groups and leaders in SGM have to make.

    kudos to Daniel for the post… and thank you Chris for the time you spent, carefully choosing your words, writing this.

    • Andrew trust me when I say that there are many days that I wish I didn’t have to make any decisions at all and…..just play golf! Thanks.

  6. Thank you for the article. As a fan we don’t understand what it takes to get the product completed and out to retail. If NQC is moved to Octorber in 2011 it will be even more difficult to get the product out in time for Christmas.

    • bwarner if it moves to October…your right…it ain’t gonna happen. Thanks.

  7. Thanks so much, Mr. White. I recognize the level of self-disclosure may have opened you up for further criticism but I really appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable in order to answer questions. Everything you wrote makes sense.

    • Thanks Andrew. I was pretty much prepared to get thrown under the bus, just for the very reasons you mentioned. I appreciate the kind words from you and the rest of the posters. Thanks again.

  8. Sincere thanks, Chris for taking the time to answer these questions.

    • Sincere thanks back j.d.

  9. Chris,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. It was very informative and I certainly learning things that I was not privy to before.

    Personally, I hope this serves as a challenge to the readers of this website. It is very easy to make comments on stories, products, and issues in the SG world, but we have to always be aware that what the mainstream public knows is a very small part of what is likely going on. We have no idea about the decisions be made, the thought processes, the rules, the laws, the people, and everything else that come into play to give us a finished product – whether it be a concert or a CD/DVD.

    By being a fan and supporter of this music and this industry, we put our trust and our confidence in the people that work tirelessly to make it happen. And rather than posting our initial, usually more emotional, reaction, I think it would serve us well to consider things a bit more. All of these people that work hard to produce concerts, events, recordings, etc. are doing the best they can to meet the desires of fans and keep within the rules and guidelines that are set for them. I think Christ said it all very well.

    If there is something that seems odd to us or that we might not necessarily agree with, it is good to express an opinion. However, I think it equally good to consider both sides with a thoughtful, loving heart and not jump to conclusions based on the little bit of knowledge we have. These sweet people are doing the best they can and we should show our appreciation for them more often rather than placing judgement.

    Thank you again, Chris, for opening our eyes to another side of the NQC recordings. Thank you for all of the work that you do to produce a great product every year. I appreciate you and everyone out there doing what you do in the industry.

    • Meagan. You are so right. We ALL need to heed your advise when it comes to rushing to some kind of judgement on any subject that we don’t fully have a grasp on. I’ll put myself first in that line. Thanks for your thoughts.

      • And thank you for your reply.

  10. Chris,

    Incredibly classy of you to take the time to share with the readers some of your thought processes into the NQC Project. I am so thankful for you and all the people like you who help promote this music that we love and the Lord of whom it is about!

    • Thanks Greg. That’s also classy of you to say.

  11. Yes, thank you for sharing the reasons for what was included and not. It was very interesting, i enjoy hearing about things like that. I have purchased all of these NQC projects since the first one in 1999, up until the last one, and will also add this new one to my collection.

    David J. Stuart
    (DJS from Cleveland)

    • David your job is to now go out and buy 08 and 09!! Thanks for you long support of these products.

  12. Great post! Thanks for caring enough to present your decision making process. 🙂

    • Thank you JayTee. It was my pleasure.

  13. This was the best and most informative column I have ever read. I read every line and took everything in that was possible. I knew about the Licensing and it is a bear and very impossibe to get. The money involved is horrendous. You, Chris, gave so much good information, I know it helped me and I know it helped others. Ot was a good job Chris. thank you

    • Thanks Beverly. That’s encouraging to hear when you do your best to share some of the facts sometimes, hoping they make sense to everyone. It doesn’t mean everyone will agree….but at least a perspective is on the table.

  14. Chris, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to give us some insight into how you do things and thanks to Daniel for giving you the forum to do this.

    • Your welcome Grigs. Thanks for reading.

  15. Great response! I read about this at Wes Burkes site and wanted to read what was said. Chris, you did a fantastic job explaining the process behind the decisions. Being a musician and having worked in the industry I completely understand the need for the intense amount of work and need to be selective. Great job! I think the videos are wonderful and enjoy seeing them on “Four” on GMC! I can’t wait for the new ones to start showing!

    • Thanks Mandi. The new shows will go into edit in January for television with the first air date still somewhat up in the air. Thanks for watching and I’m glad you enjoy them.

  16. very professional response.

    • Thanks David. I truly appreciate it.

  17. Ditto and ditto to everyone above. Very professional response.

    My point was that the best “highlight” songs from the week are not included, but now you explained why. Does it change anything on the video? No, but I sure do look at it differently now. As someone who has dealt with recording challenges on a small scale I can relate – you’re doing the best you can with what you’re given. Thanks for your post.

    • Your right Tyler. Sometimes it doesn’t change the outcome but as I have said all along…I give you the best shot I have with what I have to work with. Thanks for being engaged.

  18. Maybe Crossroads should keep the footage of all the #1 songs and later in the year after the popularity has died they could obtain the license and release a #1/Top Ten Songs of 2009 DVD/CD. Maybe even release it at NQC 2010, could be more revenue, who knows.

    • That’s a great idea Stac. If you can help me pull that off…we’ll do it! Thanks and it really would be a great product.

      • I’ll help, if you’ll let me that is. It was just a thought. I guess that may go back to the “dated” thing. If the songs were not big enough the product may not “re-sell” its self.

  19. Now there’s a great idea.

    Chris, You mentioned in your post that you have copies of some of the older NQC material. What would it take to get ahold of some of Gold City’s older footage? Seriously. What would it take?

    I would pay money to get a custom dvd with hits from the past. If the new, hot songs are too touchy to go on a dvd yet, let’s make a smash-hit reel of the classics!

    • Tyler. I only keep the footage for about a year at most before it is sent to NQC offices for storage. So, all the footage we create, or maybe I should say most, exist in Louisville. Here is the deal with any footage. If I said okay, I’ll get you Gold City’s greatest hits from what we have (certainly would not include all their hits because we don’t have all that) then I have to go back through another license request to get the rights. The license’s I receive for NQC Live are for the one project only and that includes sync and master licenses. Most of these licenses also include term limits and are only perpetual for the term. To do an NQC Greatest Moments….or Best Of Gold City From NQC…the process starts from the ground up. Again, every license is specific for one usage and one only. To do the Gold City piece, I would have to go to every master owner…every sync owner…and request the licenses to create such a project. Not that it can’t be done, but it would be a mountain of work and in the end, maybe not get enough clearances to create the piece you want.

      We will at some point start a Best Of series. However, that may be down the road a little ways. The foolproof way for me to do this is to pick all the performances from all the artists we represent. I surly wouldn’t turn down a license that I request from myself…I don’t think!! Hope this helps.

      • I enjoyed it when the Perrys came out with their Live at NQC DVD, which I know others have done. That gives people the opportunity to get more footage of the groups they love.

      • Meagan we give every artists…or their company…the opportunity to purchase their footage at a very reasonable price point. I’m amazed that more artists…with enough main stage time… don’t do that. I see your up as late as I am!! I think I’ll call it a night since I have an early meeting here in the morning in Nashville….or should I say in just a few hours. Thanks.

      • It surprises me also, especially in light of what you just said. Yes, I was up late last night. I taught at a conference out of state yesterday and got home late. Hope you got some rest!

  20. Thanks for your response, Chris. I understand the hassle. Waiting anxiously for your “Best of” Series. 🙂

    One thing I can’t understand, though, is why NQC doesn’t capitalize more on the footage they have. They could make a fortune (royalties paid and all) if they started making some of that footage available to the public.

  21. I got a lot out of this article. There is so much “behind the scenes” stuff that I don’t know and this article was very informative. I especially appreciate all the time and effort to put the article together. Thank You, Chris White.

  22. Somebody just referred to this article in light of recent posts on this year’s selection. Are things not much different now than they were when this was written?

    • The same contractual obligations are pretty much in place, as are record company standard refusals for many current hits, and the desire to not show an empty building on an 11 PM set. (Regrettably, both Booth Brothers sets in the second half of the week were toward the end, with the building far too empty to be considered for a highlights moment.)