SN Fan Awards on Saturday night

It’s official. The SN Fan Awards show is moving to Saturday night. I’ve already hashed out most of what I have to say about all this in the original post. The bottom line on the move is, it’s worth a try, I guess (and Saturday night is smarter than a per-head showcase, which I stand by as the first draft of NQC’s brainstorming about all this). The Fan Awards show guarantees that at least several top groups will perform, and as for the rest of the line-up, the Saturday night mainstage schedule could certainly only improve after this year’s parade of pearls and swine. The best thing that could happen, I think, is that this change would tilt the center of energy back to the end of the week at NQC. Of course that depends on what the Friday night line-up looks like. Here’s hoping that Thursday becomes the new Saturday (one less night I need to book a hotel and pay too much money for crappy concessions fare at Freedom Hall) and Friday remains anchored by major acts.

I have no idea if the Fan Awards will keep people around and I suspect the people we need to hear from aren’t online that much (or if they are, certainly aren’t frequenting the likes of But, as I say, it’s worth a try. And if they could just bar the doors to the artist exit to the Exhibit Hall and figure how to keep the fire marshal from finding out, we might have a serious shot at a Saturday night at NQC that doesn’t feel like the soggy stump of a melted Erhlers ice-cream cone.

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  1. Jim Bradley wrote:

    Doug -

    The effort to keep the fans and the groups around through the end of Saturday night can also be aided in one simple, additional way.

    Every “secular” Trade Show that I’ve ever participated in solved the problem of its participants packing up and leaving early in a very simple manner. If you wanted to purchase a booth/display area, in addition to the fee for the square footage, you paid a deposit that was only refundable if your display was fully manned and vibrantly active till the designated closing time of the Trade Show. If you bailed out early, you lost the substantial deposit. Cut and Dry. Those that bailed early lost their money and had their deposits increased the next year.

    If the NQC board would conduct their efforts using common business practices it could go a long way toward improving the professioinalism of the product they offer. That almost always results in greater client (read FAN) satisfaction and in the end more money for the company (read NQC Board and Artists).

  2. Charley wrote:

    Of course, if the NQC board would go ahead and moved the festival to a week in June or July, that would likely increase the number of moms and dads bring their youngsters along to learn about this great musical style.

  3. Ben Harris wrote:

    I realize that the trade show portion of NQC looks very barren even on Friday night, let alone Saturday night. But, there are reasons for that. Many groups are forced to tear down inorder that they might travel to dates they have scheduled for that weekend. Those dates help pay the costs of a week in Louisville at NQC which is very expensive. The compensation paid to appear on the main stage does not cover the costs for 5-10 people for hotel, meals nor the cost of the booth space. Now, I do think it would be best for all involved if none of the booths were torn down till late Saturday evening, after the final prayer, or early Sunday morning. But the reality of that is, groups must survive, and to do so means you must work as often as possible. We try not to book anything on the final weekend of NQC simply because we are all total worn out by the time the week has ended. But we have been known to book those very weekends simply from a business point of view. I love NQC and all it stands for. It is the granddaddy of all {southern} Gospel events, and I would hope that the fans would continue to support this great tradition. I do see problems on the horizon that trouble me though. Now granted we are very traditional, and as such we have a traditional audience that shows up at our booth. So many of those people have complained about groups doing more and more CCM rather than traditional fare. It is the old problem of how do you keep creative people motivated? Musically speaking, we tend to try and stretch out, but in doing so can leave our audience in the interim. Pushing the boundaries is fine as long as one remains in the safe confines of the genre. Ok off my soap box now.

  4. KermitTheHermit wrote:

    It is high time that the Board tries to do something to “up” weekend attendance. I am not convinced that moving the awards to Saturday will be THE fix, but as Avery stated, at least there will now be a guarantee of a few more good groups in the mix. The Hall will still boast of the top tiered groups through the weekend.

    However, what will some of these “not so top tier” artists think about not being able to book Saturday night and make the money back that they just shelled out for booth rent?

  5. wackythinker wrote:

    Ben, you’re right. It’s an age-old problem. Not to say it’s just associated with old age.

    But look at the flack the Statemen got in the 50’s. And the Imperials and Oak Ridge Boys in the late 60’s & 70’s. Those groups are now considered “traditional”. “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

    There has always been the debate of traditional vs modern. There always will be. You’d think we’d learn, huh? But no.
    Oh, well, such is life.

  6. GC wrote:

    The deposit would work. They would lose a few groups up front over a few hundred dollars but more than make it up by having a first class booth/trade area. Never heard CCM on mainstage…I have heard SG groups do covers of CCM songs in their own style. NQC has plenty of straight up traditional SG music. Diversity strengthens the entire SG genre…

  7. Ben Harris wrote:

    Wacky, I don’t disagree with you. However, believing that everyone will be happy with the changes is wishful thinking. We have had many fans speak their mind, in no uncertain terms about who they thought were actually southern gospel and who were not. When a large segment of our collective fan base gets so disenchanted with the music of SG, that they drift away, it weakens our genre. This has happened many times over the last several decades and each time, we are not replacing those who left with new fans that the “stretched” music brings in. Somewhere down the line we must stop the bleeding, and I believe the only way to do that is to give the fans the music they ask for. Terry Blackwood and I had a similar discussion not too long ago. I told him at the time that he has so much musical ability that he many times sings right over the peoples heads. He agreed. It is a fine line to walk… to keep the members of your group challenged and not leave your audience behind. Now, I unlike one of the other commentators above, have heard many songs sang at NQC that I thought were well out ofthe genre of Southern Gospel Music.

  8. FormerDJ wrote:

    I’m tired of hearing the “we have to leave to get a paying date to cover the cost of NQC” excuse. Have any of these groups heard of a budget? You know you are going to spend a week in Louisville. Budget accordingly. Your fans have to do that. If I want to go to NQC for a week, I better have some money in the bank before I leave. Stop using the cop out and stick around for the people who actually buy your music and request your songs.

  9. dkd wrote:

    Former DJ #8, obviously you have never had to pay for a both at NQC, pay for a group of 4 or 5 people to stay in a hotel,meals, and the weekly paychecks for said group. After you rent the requisite furniture and change your both so it is fresh each year, then make sure you have a new project out to promote it is VERY expensive..budget smudget!

  10. wackythinker wrote:

    dkd: You’re right, it’s expensive. But you’re wrong, it’s a part of doing business. Any business (most any industry) who does trade shows has to budget all the costs — meals, lodging, salaries, et al. Even in the craft show/flea market business, there are shows that require the exhibitor be there through the end. That’s a part of being in the business.

    And maybe a side benefit of “fining” for early departure would be the weeding out of the lowest tier of exhibitors.

    Maybe not everyone needs to exhibit. If it’s not profitable for you, don’t go. If it is, let it be profitable for the ENTIRE week.

    And if everyone were required to stay through the end the fans would be the ones to decide whose booth they visit the last night, not the artists. Or maybe the fans are smart enough to make that decision?

  11. dkd wrote:

    We were always there from opening day to Sat. night close up time. Singing on the big stage and on a couple of Industry Showcases, we alway’s budgeted very carefully, and usually came out ok, but my point was/is that it is VERY costly for any group to stay for the entire week.

  12. thinker wrote:

    Yes, it is expensive to do NQC for a week. But, I think you should keep it that way and let the Entire Week be a Showcase of THE BEST that SG has to offer. The TOP groups should be there for the entire week.

    I know, I know, I’ve heard all the arguments for giving the “new” groups a break and making a stage available for them too. But honestly, these regional showcases are horrible for the most part.

    Pack the nightly programs with only the TOP Groups - raise the rent on the booth spaces to weed out all the starry-eyed flat singing local groups - and make the Entire week into one big star studded event.

    Bring Gaither back, bring the Isaacs back, bring in ehssq, and make it THE SG event of the year - every year - and watch attendance go up!

  13. wackythinker wrote:

    I wouldn’t dispute that it’s costly. It’s costly for the fans, too. But if you want to do business, you do exactly what you did — budget. Let’s face it, if you can’t afford to be there, you can’t afford to be there. That’s the bottom line. Either you do it, or you don’t.

    I’m in a business that attends trade shows several times a year. Sometimes they pay for themselves immediately, but usually we attend more for the P.R. value. But we pay to be there the entire run, because we feel we need to be there. Many times, we feel we could make more money leaving early and making sales call from the home office. But we make the business decision to be there, and we stick with it.

    Sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture, and decide whether, in the long run, is it better to stay the extra day or to go get an extra check? If Billy Bob and the ThornTones have fans that expect to see them at the world’s biggest s/g event, and BB&TT have schlepped out to do a gig in East Yibbip, has that extra hororarium covered both the extra diesel fuel and the ill will?

    And has it hurt the overall cause of NQC, which we all say we dearly love? We all seem to bemoan the fact that attendance is down, and Saturday night needs to be pumped up.

    I especially think top-tier groups, who have members on the NQC board, should be setting a more loyal example. I realize NQC may have waited too long to start cracking down, and they may not be able to step on board memebers’ toes, but it is a point to consider.

  14. Chris wrote:

    Hey! Don’t dog on that “crappy” food in the exhibit hall. I happen to like the many choices, and it all tastes pretty good (except for the buffalo burgers - tasted like grubworm burgers). You clearly haven’t gone to a county fair in CA.

  15. Wayne Kerr wrote:

    Ok…fuzzy logic at it’s best says that a group has to leave the most attended two nights of NQC because they have to have the money. If you can’t afford to be there….STAY HOME! I am assuming that they must pay for the booth for Friday and Saturday Evenings in advance. What sense does it make to pay for the space and then not use it? Wasted money in my opinion.

    Do these groups really NEED to bring every living relative to NQC and feed, house, and bathe them all week long? Make momma and the young uns stay home. More wasted money.

    Why can’t the groups park their buses at a campground? They have shower and restroom facilities at most of them these days. Hook the bus up for the week and actually spend time at your booth. I see far too many booths that are manned by “whodats” during NQC. Fans don’t travel hundreds of miles to “whodats”, they want to see their favorite artists.

  16. Ben Harris wrote:

    To Thinker:

    Who decides who is best in SG? And for leaving momma and the kids at home…..SG should be about family. True this is a business, but it is a business that is very much ministry minded too. And too, when your group is out singing main stage or showcase, someone needs to be taking care of the booth space that you paid for. It is expensive, and yes we do budget for the event, but that does not keep the actuall cost from being a thorn in the side. What we get paid to be on the main stage does not cover the costs. That said, our sales, especially this past year, were awesome and we actually left the event well in the black. I am looking forward to 2008 already. NQC and Grand Ole Gospel are the highlights of our year.

  17. Payton wrote:

    Shoot, works for me. I think it’s a smart move. This year will be the first year I’ve ever attended NQC but I won’t be there the first part of the week so I will get to see the Fan Awards now. I think it will work for a lot of people.

    Who is Ben Harris? Who is this group he’s referring to? He acts like we should know.

  18. Phil wrote:

    Well Payton, Ben Harris has a group called “Southern Sound” which is an excellent group that sings the traditional style quartet music with a fresh sound. Since a great number of “Southern Gospel” seem to want to be more “contemporary” his group was VERY popular at NQC recently. And since Ben has been in the SG “Industry” for many years, and on a variety of SG message boards, many folks know who Ben is…don’t get “testy” because you don’t. lol

  19. Payton wrote:

    Ok Dad……

  20. BL wrote:

    OK # 15, I have a question for you. Why do you feel that the artists should sacrifice time with their families just so they can meet you? I understand that we as fans keep the artists on the road and that without fans singers have no one to sing to, but does buying their product and going to hear them sing give us a right to tell them to be at their booths at all times just so that we might meet them and shake their hand? I think not. Consider this, you probably watch movies and if not you certainly watch TV at some point. Surely you have a favorite actor or actress. But has it ever crossed your mind to complain because they haven’t taken time out of their schedules to meet you? Probably not. I just think that sometimes the fans expect to much out of SG artists. They’re already the most accessible artists out of all genres, what more do you want?

  21. PassTheCornbread wrote:

    Another reason for doing it is to keep the bigger groups there all week, make them be there Saturday instead of home or another concert. That way they get the most for the discount flats they pay.

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