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.
Crossroads Entertainment & Marketing