The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Spotlight Series Interview: Chris Sampson



In this episode of Hit Songs Deconstructed’s Spotlight Series, we sit down with recording artist, performer, producer, songwriter, author and educator: Chris Sampson.

During our talk with Chris, we discuss how he found his “niche” in the music industry, his unique perspective on modern music education, the definition of success and authenticity in today’s market, and the evolution of the music scene, as well as his own insightful advice for up-and-coming artists.

Over the course of his career, Chris pioneered contemporary and innovative music education methods, playing a key role in the founding of the University of Southern California’s Popular Music Program and contributing greatly to the continued success of the Grammy and Young Arts foundations’ educational programs. His students have gone on to pen #1 hit songs, sign major record and publishing deals, and win countless awards and honors.

He continuously straddles two different worlds – the world of the developing artist and the world of the music professional, and has recently started his own podcast, Joy Sounds: Music You Need to Know, where he sits down with emerging artists to discuss artistry, emotion and the drive to succeed in the music industry.


Chris on the evolution of the music scene

“[Artists] can create their own momentum. They can get the train rolling down the track on their own act, their own audience. If they generate enough interest, what they get now is approached by possible record companies, booking agents, publishing companies, now as true partners.

That changes the conversation in the business immediately. That’s such a different conversation than…the executive in the corner office plucking you out of obscurity and deciding you’re the one.”


Chris on his approach to music education

My approach to teaching is recognizing, first and foremost, that…we become partners with the students in their education. And just that statement alone turns the teaching dynamic on its head.

“One of the things that we talk about is helping each artist-student define what is success. Understanding that definition for themselves helps me greatly in terms of creating a pathway for their artist development.”


Chris on his new podcast, Joy Sounds: Music You Need to Know

“Everybody performs three tunes live on the show. And then when I interview them, I want to make sure that I don’t just bring out, sort of, dry biography, but I get behind the stories of what make them an artist…they’ve got a story behind them, they’ve got real emotion, they’ve got an amazing work ethic. And those are the things that I pull out in the interviews.”


Chris’s advice to up-and-coming artists, writers and producers

“If you bring yourself to the table, if you bring your own authentic voice and uniqueness, you actually might be the next trend…And I think that a lot of people find that very empowering.

And if you combine that with a professional knowledge of the trends, the craft, what the industry is looking for and what the audience is looking for, that’s a very powerful combination for you moving forward.”