Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The weirdness of radio

Well, I'm tired. Really. Really. Tired. I don't really know why...maybe just the last 6 months of work finally catching up to me. Maybe the fact that even when I'm home, I'm working too hard on demos and new songs and cowriting. I keep telling myself that I have to strike while the iron is hot. I need to work my tail off while I'm at home. Then I realize that I'm slowly burning myself out with 11 hour drives to Traverse City, MI and a week later getting in the car and driving 10 hours back up to Lifest in Wisconsin. Those trips in a packed SUV with 4 men is fun...but tiring.

I'm trying to find a balance. Every person that I'm working with right now says I'm the hardest working artist they've worked with. Ever. I can't figure out if that's sad or awesome. I don't feel like I work that hard. I feel like I do what I need to do to make a living and to try and build something that on the other end of this career will be worthwhile. But literally every time we get together my team breathlessly talks about how hard I work. Artists must be pretty freaking lazy, I guess.

By the way, Lifest and the Cherry Festival were GREAT shows. The band is starting to gel. Well, we still haven't settled on a full-time bass player. Walt, our main guy, is playing with Jeremy Camp right now. Jeremy is big right now...it's a big gig. I'd love for Walt to play with us, but from a financial standpoint, it makes more sense for him to play with Jeremy right now. Down the road, Walt will be my guy again. But we've had a revolving door of bass players. You guys met Tommy. Besides the two of them, we also played a few shows with a guy named Scott...an amazing bass player out of Dallas who played with Jon for Nichole Nordeman. It looks like we've settled on Tommy, though for the Back to School Tour, which is in August and September.

You need to find a way to come to a Back to School date. The show is going to be incindiery. Your face will melt off and your heart will be melted. We've got some big plans

By the way, I put up a bunch of dates for the Back to School tour on myspace. I'll announce the opening act very soon!

Anyway, back to the weirdness of radio.

So, we released "Empty Me" back in February. February 11, actually. We went for adds and have something like 40 stations in the first 3 weeks add the song to their rotation. Then we slowly worked our way among the Third Day's, MercyMe's, and Casting Crowns' releasing big ballad singles. Then in April, the adds just stopped coming. We knew we were connecting in a big way in the markets that were playing the song, but KLove hadn't added and we could not get stations to add the song. It was amazing.

Suddenly the song that we all thought was a top 5 was stuck at number 18 for 8 straight weeks. On top of that, we went 7 of those 8 weeks without receiving a new add from a station. Then, the kicker. In major markets, we were kicking butt in testing, but 1-2 stations nationally had mediocre testing. We only had 70 or so stations spinning the song, so mediocre numbers from a couple were schewing the national testing number down. We were in the top 20-25 in testing, but in order for a lot of radio stations to take a chance on a new artist over an established artist, they have to see at least top 10 testing and usually top 5 or top 3. So, while I was out at the finale for Idol in May, my radio guy and I had a sad conversation talking about giving up on "Empty Me".

I was pretty sad. When we released that single, a lot of people thought it was a top 5. Maybe a number 1. Hearing all these long-time pros get so excited about a song got my hopes up...only to be dashed. I was sad. Not because I want a top 5 or a number 1...but because of what those numbers mean...when you have a top 5, 3 times as many people are hearing your song than where I was at number 18. I just wanted the song to have a chance to connect. I was getting testimonies almost daily on myspace and elsewhere from radio station guys and from listeners whose lives were being touched by the song.

But slowly over a couple of weeks, I gave it up. Without sounding cheesy, I simply gave it over to God and realized that the places where the song was playing, it was connecting. We were selling extremely consistently when other new artists weren't. We were selling tons of downloads of the single. We were connecting. And that was all that mattered.

Then...the weirdness of radio happened.

Klove finally added. And when they added, their however many stations started testing. And started testing very very well. And suddenly, the numbers were schewed their way. 3 weeks ago, national testing came out and I was #2 behind Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" for women 35-54 and women 35-44. And BOOM!! Six months late, the song has new energy. I don't think we'll have a top 5 (because stations that added 6 months ago are coming off of heavy rotation to what they call recurrent - that means we lose 5-15 plays per station that does that), but stations that have not added the song for 6 months are suddenly jumping on the band wagon and being excited about the song!

It is looking like "Empty Me" may be one of the most played songs of the year, whether or not it ever reaches higher on the chart. However, it looks like we'll debut in the top 10 this week, though. It really is amazing. I finally give up and let go of "Empty Me", we decide on a release date for "Arise" and all the plans are moving forward and boom! everything changes.

So..."Arise" is going to CHR (more rock oriented) radio August 1. We're looking at August 29 or September 5 for AC...but if "Empty Me" continues to explode, it may be later than that. It is possible (and this sounds so freaking crazy) that it could be after Christmas before we go for adds on "Arise" at AC.

Ah...radio is so weird.


rosalee said...

Yeah -
I've been watching the ascent of "Empty Me" over the past few weeks, but wasn't going to say anything until it reached the top 10. I wish that KLOVE would have added sooner. (Bad timing, as DJ would say)

It looks like Chris is on CBS Talk of the Town at 11:00 AM CST this morning.(News Channel 5 Nashville)


The following says that if you can't catch the show at 11:00 AM, there are rebroadcasts at noon, 4:00 PM, and 9:00 AM the next morning on News Channel 5+ and Cable Channel 50.:


Hischild said...

Interesting reading Chris. I would say not only is radio wierd, it's also a science.
Glad to know Empty Me has the fresh wings it deserves. I am hearing it too seldom on radio here but I can only listen in the car. I think my house is an atheist - I can't get ANY FM Christian stations within its walls. SO...I'm hoping it's getting more play than I realize.

We JUST got RBTY in our church bookstore for sale! Just when I was going to the manager (again)to ask why it's not there, I see it on the shelf! Yay! So, I instead thank her for putting it out and she said "oh yeah, I heard his song on the radio and I REALLY liked it so I got it on the shelf now". As I was standing in front of it (admiring it on the wall, I guess) a young couple came by and he said to her "hey, there's Chris Sligh". SO...I butt in w/a promo for you and your appearances this weekend. Just doing my part. ha ha

risalea said...

OK, I am posting with the BB strategically placed so as to not look like I'm not paying attention to this very LOOOONG speaker LOL

Chris, you've got to work smart, and not so hard (not to mention the gas cost) working one event and then coming home and going back in a week. If you can't cluster several dates together, is it really cost effective for you? I know you want to take advantage of this time, but you have to take care of yourself--ok enough preaching from Mama Risa. : )

Tell us what to do to help. You've got folks from all over the country ready to help. I have a stash of CD's and I am ready to share the love, but I want to do it smart and hit the right stations.

Get some rest! Take Sarah and go do something fun and leave the cell phone at home. Whoops-gotta go!

Rebecca said...

Goodness, Chris! I'm glad things are looking up for "Empty Me." Isn't it amazing how we have to learn over and over and OVER to "let God" have stuff?

I know I don't comment often, but I am always SO interested in what you have to say. I think you're a good egg... have thought so since I saw your AI audition. And while I know you don't need me to validate your "good egg" status, I know I like to know people think well of me, so there you go.

Try to get some rest. I "get" wanting to strike while the iron is hot, but completely burning out isn't worth it.

risalea said...

The Branson dates--WOO HOO! And later in Oct., the trees will be gorgeous. You'll love it! (Except for the traffic-get yourself one of those alternate route maps.) Branson road trip--who's game?

"Empty Me" is a song that has so much meaning and depth. I truly believe it has more life. What I think you need is a
presence in more retail outlets. Is it time to. make a trip to Bentonville and bombard Walmart?

julie said...

This is great news. I love the song, and it's good to hear it's getting out to more people. Hope to hear "Arise" on my local station!

Badpacifist said...

COOL! Royals game August 23rd and Branson in Oct my wifee is going to be so happy. Fifteen years in Missouri and I never took her to Branson. What sort of a husband is that? I am jacked. Chris thanks for introducing me to Jason Walker, that "you're missing it" song is my favorite at the moment. I about gave up on Klove while waiting for months to hear your song. I just seem to skip past them on the radio dial now or play a CD. The sliver of teenage angst left in me behind the graying hair (rofl) wants to rebel against "Corporate Radio" conglomerations be they Christian or not.

Carrie said...

I think the closest Back to School tour date is the one in Horseheads, NY and it's almost 3 hours away from me. I have NO clue where it is but if I can swing it, I'll make people come with me.

A lot of people don't even listen to the radio these days -- I know I don't, but I'm pretty sure my station probably just now added "Empty Me." I was wondering why some stations took so long but I'm glad they're finally doing so. Also you DO work hard. I mean you don't have a bus or anything, you drive to all of these places and that in its own is tiring.

DJ in AL said...


I'm thinking the whole music business as a whole is weird,not just radio. B'ham plays EM over, and over, it is in their regular rotation. Everyone I ask that has heard it, loves it.

This whole music business is just so hard to wrap the head around, I don't know how you do it and I don't know how you keep from getting discouraged. I admire your resiliency and more than that your wisdom in being "cheesy" and giving it over to God. Let's face it, he knows best.

Don't burn out Chris, it will kill your creativity and love for what you are doing. Take a break now and then and recharge dude!

Sending you love and good vibes from DJ in AL!

DJ in AL said...

Somebody look and see if he is coming to B'ham in the fall please, can't do it at work!


robyn said...

I'm so glad "Empty Me" is in a phoenix stage now!! I was kinda mad at K-Love for holding out so long on playing you...I couldn't understand why, you are so good...better than a lot I hear on their station.
Working hard at all this must just be second nature to you. The music and messages are in there just bouncin' around and bustin' to get outta your head & your heart and when it's right it's SO great! I wish I could make a living doing something so wonderful that I really love like that and inspiring to others.I don't blame you, I'd be working my tushy off too, but you might need to slow down a bit and let the others catch up!! (your buddies)
Anyway, YAY!! Back To School Tour IS gonna be in NC...dude I will BE there. Can't wait!

Luv ya'll


risalea said...

DJ, you get to LR and I will chauffeur you to Branson. Chris Sligh, outlet malls and we could even send our husbands to the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. What else could you ask for? Wait, let me answer that. No husbands--might cramp the shopping aspect. LOL Seriously, think about it.I can't check myspace and this at the same time. I will email you.

DJ in AL said...


I'll consider a solo trip, late Oct. might work, not sure about my finances. Not ruling out the possibility!

Thanks for the Talladega tour info, it is about an hour from my house. Now I have to find someone to go with me!


EmilyBoo said...

That IS weird. But congrats on going up the charts again!

I'm still bummed that on the heels of missing the picnic, I also missed the Cherry Festival. BUT, I see one of the back to school dates is in Michigan! And way closer to home than Traverse City, too. Unfortunately, it IS still quite a drive, and the show is on a Thursday... The time and location for the show aren't listed yet, but my kids have school the next morning, so I probably won't be able to make it.

Are all the back to school dates up, or are more still being added? Perhaps if I go before school starts, I could make one of the out of state shows.

Also, I echo what Risa said about not working too hard. All that traveling back and forth can't be good for you. Or your car. Or your wife. Cluster those dates as much as possible!

Sorry about the nagging... take care!

Cathy Storms said...

OK~I guess I either have to move to Nashville or you need a new booking agent!!Nothing close to California at all.
Please tell me that you are going to put up new dates that include California.
Branson? hmmm...it is very tempting. I'd love to meet you girls there but we will have to wait and see. I'm pretty tapped out after Nashville and I'm saving for next year.

gdahimself said...

To Chris Sligh,
From GDA,

"But literally every time we get together my team breathlessly talks about how hard I work. Artists must be pretty freaking lazy, I guess."

Did you ever consider the notion that you, in your enthusiasm, might be a bit manic compared to other artiste right now?

You may need to relax the pace a tad so doing what you love doesn't lose it's luster and become merely a job.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that "Empty Me" is doing better. I absolutely love that song. Please slow down a little and enjoy the work. You are living a dream. And we don't want you burnt out. I want that music to keep coming. I love it.

Badpacifist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosalee said...

"Empty Me" enters 20thecountdownmagazine's top 20 countdown in the #12 slot. It's about time.


rosalee said...

Well, now I know why Rollie Fingers and Ernie Banks are in town. They're on the All Star game at Yankee stadium right now!

chamilton said...

I saw a story about the all star game here in on our local news and thought of you.
When I saw the dates in Branson I thought hey that's only about five hours away and wouldn't it be a hoot to meet there and have a mini fro patro gathering.

Hey buddy, I know how it is to become so tired dong something you love although child welfare is a far cry from artist, singer, writer, and all around talented guy. Hang in there. There are alot of people rootin for ya and truely if you need anything at all just ask. I know I will help and I am sure I am not the only one. I see Oklahoma is in my future. My dad lives in OK. and I haven't drove there to see him as much as I have drove there to see you and the band this year. As for Empty Me, I have noticed and I can't remember if I posted this or not but, the last two surveys that I have gotten from KLOVE have had the song as on to be rated so I have been super excited about that. Hey Rosalee maybe those letters are starting to pay off. I am still planning on becoming a KLOVE ambassador in my area so maybe I might get some inside info from KS probably not but I talk alot so we will see. I am glad to see everybody here again with the picnic, the holiday and everything else I was missin you guys. So take care everyone.


Badpacifist said...

I feel like Thumper in Bambi. I am absolutely Twitter-pated with anticipation over the two new songs with Jason Walker! Seriously you and him together songwriting is very exciting to me. The sky is the limit.

DJ in AL said...


I thought of you too tonight when I saw Fingers and Banks at the Allstar game. Pretty cool. Love them Yankees.

Carrie said...

I really enjoyed Jason Walker's mini set which reminds me I need to import his EP into my itunes. But a Jason Walker/Chris Sligh collab? I bet it's amazing.

risalea said...

I apologize in advance for posting 4 times in one day, but wanted to let you guys from the picnic know I got to visit with Tammy,
Amanda's mom tonight. She is staying with her friend, Paula (who was also at the picnic) right now. I got to eat burgers with them (Paula cooked out) and we had a great visit.As you can imagine, Tammy is still struggling with her grief and I know she would appreciate your continued prayers. She is a strong lady and I thank the Lord that Chris's blog led me to Amanda and her mom. (and to you guys)

And I'm sorry, Chris if I got too preachy earlier. We.love you like one of our own, and want you to find success, but not at the expense of your health. Take care of you.

I promise I will only read tomorrow and not post. Maybe.: )

Anonymous said...

So that explains why I just heard your song on our local radio station! Confusing, but worth it all, huh?


Nique's Nana said...

Chris, you are a hard working soul. Just be sure you stay healthy, don't wear yourself down. It's never cheesey to hand things over to God....isn't it just wonderful that when we do, it all just works out.

Nique's Nana said...

No SoCal tours - oh Chris, don't forget about us California girls!

HstryQT said...

Risa and DJ, my friends here in Indy are going to Branson for a timeshare while Chris will be there. UGH Im so jealous. I think its about the same distance as Nashville for us. No funds though, especially with Teddys impending surgery. I have my Indy tour stop though, so its not too bad - but Id love to go to Branson with you two! THere'll be other times though. :)

Nique's Nana said...

Chris, for next year your booking agent needs to look into booking you into the Humphries By The Bay concerts (San Diego). It's really a nice concert venue, good sound, nice ambiance, not too big, not too small.

Bette van said...

Hey Chris - well I finally heard "Empty Me" on Shine-fm here in Edmonton. Was really pumped!
How is it doing in Canada and elsewhere in the world?

Hope you get some well deserved R&R
while on your Alaskan cruise. I was ever so close to joining you, but decided it would be prudent to pay off my car. Perhaps the next time.

Don't give up - you're awesome and so blessed.

Bette van

DJ in AL said...


I may not have the funds either, I am just hoping. We will be in the middle of Alex's 1st semester of college, so I may not have a dime:)


rosalee said...

DJ -
That experience at the airport has me rethinking my Sligh "promotion" strategy. Maybe I should start carrying around at least one CD in my handbag, in case I run into another famous person that I could give it to!

Carrie –
Jason Walker collaborated with Chris on his current CD with “I’m Clean”.
Also, I found out that the FOX video aired the night of the picnic. However, I am still working on getting a copy.

rosalee said...

Uh - sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but it looks like the Branson show has closed. I confirmed it by calling the toll-free number at The Grand Palace.

Also, that Alaskan Cruise has been replaced by other gigs.

DJ in AL said...


Sounds like a good plan to me!

Cathy Storms said...

Yes Rosalee that sounds like a good idea. Maybe we should all carry an extra CD wherever we go just in case.

risalea said...

Been doing that, but not for famous folks, but to give to deserving friends. LOL

Branson cancelled? That's, that's....I can't say! I'm crushed!

Anonymous said...


Just wanted you to know that "Empty Me" is #1 on 88.3 WCQR in Kingsport, TN. Awesome some.

Anonymous said...

Chris, WOW! I am a 54 year old pastor's wife and I listen to KLOVE at work. When I heard "Empty Me" for the first time, it just pierced my soul like no other song has done in a while. I believe God just had this little song wait to be heard, get it away from American Idol,( loved your singing),so it would not get caught up in the "Idol thing" so you could truly know it was Him giving it wings. God works in many chosen vessels, you Chris, are the vessel He is using today. Blessings from a forever friend.

Forever Friend said...

Chris, WOW! I am a 54 year old pastor's wife and I listen to KLOVE at work. When I heard "Empty Me" for the first time, it just pierced my soul like no other song has done in a while. I believe God just had this little song wait to be heard, get it away from American Idol,( loved your singing),so it would not get caught up in the "Idol thing" so you could truly know it was Him giving it wings. God works in many chosen vessels, you Chris, are the vessel He is using today. Blessings from a forever friend in OKC.

Jim said...

Chris..I was so mad KLOVE didn't play it for so long even though you were a big hit in the studio and did an awesome live version. Better late than never!