TFC's #MusicIndustryMonday met up with our pal Christopher Sherron, who's brainchild The Chris Top Program features the best upcoming indie music acts. The Chris Top Program is a live internet broadcast and podcast affiliated with Spreaker and iHeart Radio and originates in Clarksville, TN...just outside Nashville!
The Fan Connection (TFC): Hi! Thanks for taking some time out with us and being the "interviewee" this time, since you're usually the one doing the interviewing!
Chris Top: My pleasure! I love you guys. Nice to be on the other end for a change.
TFC: Haha! Right?! Ok, so for starters, tell us a little about The Chris Top Program and what you do.
Chris Top: I, Chris, am the host of the show. It's a live internet broadcast found on thechristopprogram.com. Once the show is over it becomes a podcast so anyone can go back and listen anytime. We mainly do interviews with all sorts of rising artists.
TFC: Nice! It's always good to have them up there to listen to later for those who missed it! How long has the program been on air, and how did it begin?
Chris Top: #TCTP is my baby. It began about 5 years ago and I had no idea what direction it was going to take. It started as comedy talk and evolved into what it is today. I interviewed an artist name Mechie from Argentina early on and found her so inspiring. I really dig a daily dose of inspiration, so I decided to keep speaking with musicians, photographers, writers, actors, and anyone else who had a great story, passion, and a positive outlook on life. A little trivia for you: Mechi is the voice in my super cool catchy show intro.
TFC: Working with artists is always inspiring. We get that here at TFC! What part of this type of work do you enjoy most?
Chris Top: Meeting cool people of course! I find whenever I surround myself with superstars, it makes me feel important. I'm always sure to make every guest on the program promise me back stage passes. I do have all of the promises recorded by the way...just sayin'.
TFC: Hear that everyone? If you've done a #TCTP interview, you're promises have been recorded! Chris gets his tickets and this interview confirms it! Chris...your website is pretty interactive. What's the most people you've had in the chat room at one time during an interview, and who was your guest at the time?
Chris Top: It's difficult putting a solid number on any one show. I actually have a couple of chat boxes open and sometimes it gets a little hard to follow when you factor in Facebook, and Twitter comments, too. I try to involve the live listeners as much as I can. The live broadcasts are surprisingly an extremely small fraction of my overall listenership total. #TCTP is archived on iHeart, Stitcher, Spreaker, and about 30 other places as well. I do recall Monday's Mona Lisa's interview making the chat impossible to follow.
TFC: Monday's Mona Lisa is one of our TFC artists! It's great that you have so many options for your listeners. Most jobs, even the ones you love, have at least ONE thing that you'd consider less than enjoyable. What would that be for you?
Chris Top: Thats a tough question. I love every aspect of what I do, including the stuff I am no pro at...like web design. It's pretty obvious my .com is nothing to write home about, but I do my best. Most people don't realize I broadcast from home. The show tends to sound a little larger than life. It catches people off guard when they figure out I'm not in some elaborate studio somewhere. It makes me feel pretty good when listeners have no clue. Guess it means I'm getting closer to awesome. It would be cool to have an actual engineer to run the show so I could just talk. It can get hectic when I have 8 interviews in a row and only 5 minutes in between to set up for the next one. I've never made a dime off of The Chris Top Program, so it's not easy finding engineers to work for that amount. I am incredibly lucky to have Ali as a co-host who loves radio about as much as I do. I'm also able to surround myself with talented people who make me look better, like Christen, Alex, and my buddy Kevin who helps out from time to time. Randy from Magnolia Emporium is a Saint. He helped us reach the next level as a sponsor. The #WOBA Awards would not be near as much fun if it wasn't for him.
TFC: Oh yes...we LOVE Magnolia Emporium! He did a great job at last year's #WOBA Awards as a sponsor! Is there any advice you'd give to younger broadcasters who are just starting out?
Chris Top: Do it because you love it. Never do anything in life only for the money. I have a full time job, but I spend more time working on my show than I do at work. I hope and dream one day I may be able to make a living at it. I was approached by a guy once who told me I could be on a few hundred stations if I paid him a few hundred dollars a month. I told him I was already doing what I loved for free. Why would I pay for that? #TCTP is worldwide.
"The artists are all a great example of people who never give up. No matter how many times doors are slammed and the work gets a negative response, passionate artists keep moving forward."
TFC: Yeah, that doesn't really make much financial sense at all does it? We're going to move on to something pretty exciting now! THE #WOBA AWARDS! Tell us about that! TFC attended your last #WOBA Awards, for 2015, and we have to say...it was really fun! Make sure to let everyone know what #WOBA actually stands for!
Chris Top: It stands for 'Working On Being Awesome'. I believe everyone is a work in progress. We all have a long way to go, and mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of. The artists are all a great example of people who never give up. No matter how many times doors are slammed and the work gets a negative response, passionate artists keep moving forward. Will we ever actually become awesome? I don't believe we ever will. All of our lives have room for improvement. Besides, if we did become awesome one day, what else would we have to work on? The #WOBA Awards started out as 2 days of interviews at BB King's Blues Club in Nashville. Not sure how I ever talked BB King's into letting us use the space, but it worked out. A handful of people showed up the first go around and we had a great time. Last year we decided to go bigger and it payed off. We are SO blessed to have BB King's and Magnolia Emporium as sponsors. It went from a handful of interviews to a full blown red carpet ceremony with awards. It's my chance to let all of these artists know they are inspiring and what each of them contributes to the world is priceless. Plus it makes me feel cool.
TFC: We will definitely be there again this year! Also, maybe we have two different definitions for "awesome" Chris, because we think you're pretty Awesome already! Anything new for 2016 at #WOBA? Something different than last year or any added categories?
Chris Top: Instead of 3 days like we scheduled in 2015, we will be in Nashville all 4 days this year. This means we can squeeze in more interviews, and it gives us an extra day of fun. We did add some new categories. Artist Development/Management, photographer, and video are now on the list. We are also getting the fans even more involved this year. Anyone can go to thechristopprogram.com event tab to see how all of this works.
TFC: Do you have sponsors for the event? If so, who are they, and how do they contribute? We know last year's sponsors...but give us a rundown for this year.
Chris Top: I've mentioned BB King's Blues Club. They give me the space free of charge. Like I said, not sure how I have managed to talk them into it for the last three years. The space could comfortably seat more than 200 I'm sure, and I know they could easily make a few thousand dollars during CMA Fest, but they GIVE it to me...just wow...I still can't believe it. We are doing live broadcasts from the heart of Nashville during the CMA fest in Legendary BB King's Blues Club. I have to pinch myself. I met Randy of Magnolia Emporium on freakin' Twitter. We became pretty good buddies and I developed a trust with him. I felt comfortable enough to ask him for a sponsorship. I don't go around asking for cash all of the time. I am NO business man. When I believe in something the way I believe in my passion, it makes it easy. I had no clue what his response would be. Without hesitation, he said yes. He said YES!!! This meant we could have the backdrop, the red carpet, the extra logo shirts, the awards! Not sure Randy realizes how many lives he changed by funding us. Did I tell you he agreed to funding the award ceremony in 2015 AND 2016? We had the check for both years within 3 days of the conversation. I love that man, and it goes much deeper than the funds. He believed in my show, he believed in me. I'm not sure everyone gets to experience that kind of feeling. I'm a pretty lucky guy to have a friend like Randy. Hey Sugar Shop provides some sweet treats to a few lucky dorks who attend. Anyone lucky enough to grab one WILL leave #smitten. I'm really not sure about more sponsors for this year. Like I said, I am no business man, so we will see if anyone comes out of the wood works. I'd love to make it even bigger but I'm doing something I LOVE, I'm surrounded by people I LOVE, AND I'm overdosing on inspiration the whole time! Life is good.
TFC: There's no better feeling than working incredibly hard on something and seeing other people believe in your dream! TFC has been lucky enough to have people believe and continue to follow us also. You can always repay "money"...but the support for the dream can never be replaced. Can anyone come to the awards ceremony? If so, how does that work?
Chris Top: EVERYONE is welcome free of charge! Walk in the front door of BB King's in downtown Nashville and ask about The Chris Top Program.
TFC: Do we know who the nominees are yet for this year?
Chris Top: I'm still accepting nominees right now. Keep checking thechristopprogram.com for all of the up to date info.
TFC: Tell us about voting. How do we do that?
Chris Top: When the voting starts it will be super-easy. No accounts to create or any mailing lists to sign up for. You will simply go to thechristopprogram.com and click the button for your favorites once a day until June 12th, 2016. You can even vote for multiple selections if you can't choose just one.
TFC: Any other details we should know?
Chris Top: If any artists would like to drop off merchandise during the event, we would LOVE that. It will be displayed for a ton of people to see until the final day. Lucky winners will take it home during the award ceremony.
TFC: Thank you so much for sharing all of this information, and most of all, THANK YOU for your support of independent artists!
Chris Top: I appreciate you 'Working On Being Awesome' with me.
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