The Music Biz: New television show utilizes Internet to showcase stars

Monday, July 14, 2008 at 3:07am
Chris Williams (seated on a TV in center) is using television and the Web to produce ‘ONDeckTV,’ a local project that showcases new musical talent. Matthew Willliams/The City Paper

Chris Williams has been heavily involved in several sectors of the music business within the urban community. He’s a successful producer and engineer, and a 2007 graduate of Music Row’s SAE in audio technology, where he learned the formal end of the technology he’d already mastered on his own dating back to 2000.

Then a conversation with business partner Antwan Smith – they co-own and operate Hustlaz Ave. Productions – led to the creation of a unique new project.

ONDeckTV debuted two weeks ago and is among a new breed of programs debuting on the Internet. Each Friday, the show’s hosts Larry Carter and Louquan Smith talk with many of the major personalities in Music City’s rap, hip-hop and R&B communities.

Besides serving as producer, Antwan Smith also handles the beats and original music backing for the various segments. Willie Curtis serves as the cameraman and editor for the show, which is produced every Friday morning at 1006 Spain Ave.

“Both Antwan and I initially wanted to do either an Internet radio show or put the program on public access cable,” said Williams, the show’s creator. “But the more we talked about it, the more we felt that putting it on the Internet made more sense. We could reach not just people in Nashville but all over the world through the Internet. We already had a studio and the necessary equipment, so it just seemed natural to go ahead with the program. Plus, on the Internet we were in charge of the advertising and we also didn’t have to worry about any possible censorship or content issues.”

The first guest for ONDeckTV was the prolific area producer Fate Eastwood. Future shows will include such names as All-Star, Young Rell, Paper, Dolewite & Scooby and Robin Raynelle. In addition, the owners of places like Phat Kaps and Soundstream are also on the list for future programs.

“We’re focusing now on rap and R&B because historically those are the genres that don’t get as much exposure in Nashville when it comes to the mainstream media,” Williams said. “But we’re open to other styles as well. We’re also not just going to limit ourselves in terms of issues and personalities. There are many important things happening throughout the city, and we want to examine and explore those in serious conversations over the next few months.”

The show also discusses other areas of interests involving these artists, including sports, club promoters and business tips in terms of avoiding things that can ruin your career, Williams said.

But the main purpose is to shine a light on the Nashville R&B and rap scenes, letting people see that there are lot of gifted performers they’ve never heard about, because their records might not get on the radio here or their names don’t receive a lot of publicity, he added.

After completing each 15- to 18-minute show, the program is posted on both MySpace and YouTube each Friday. Previous shows can now be seen at myspace.com/ondecktv. In addition, Williams said that they hope to eventually air episodes on public access cable Channel 19 as well, and that talks are now underway to achieve that goal.

Williams and Smith also plan to expand their Internet programming into different but related arenas within the next few months. Their next TV project will be a roundtable show featuring African-American males in their teens to the mid-30s. It will have two hosts and the subject matter will be more overtly political and social with some cultural overtones and links. They hope to launch that program within the next two months, and they’ll soon announce an open casting call and interviewing people to be both panelists and hosts.

By the end of the year, the duo wants to have a third show up and running. This would be a program devoted to African-American women, with a format similar to The View, “but more local and regional in scope,” Williams said.

“There are so many really smart, talented and knowledgeable people out there whose voices aren’t being heard,” Williams said. “I see these shows as an opportunity to change that, and also to show the world the diversity within the African-American community.

“We kind of see ourselves as pioneers here because there still aren’t that many people using the Internet to do television shows. But I think in the next few years, you’re going to see plenty of similar programs because it’s a wide open area and there’s so much potential there,” he added. “We want to show people that anything is possible in terms of sophisticated audio and video production. You’ve just got to be willing to work hard and keep trying to achieve new things.”

The Music Biz appears Mondays in The City Paper. Comments may be sent to rwynn@nashvillecitypaper.com

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