CMA Reveals KixStart Artist Scholarship Program

The Country Music Association aims to help guide new and developing artists, via the newly-announced CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship, a year-long program that will connect selected artists with professionals across various facets of the music industry.

The program, which will begin accepting applications on June 1, will also offer educational support and opportunities for artists to participate in CMA-related events including CMA Fest, C2C: Country to Country Festival in London, and the CMA Songwriters Series. The CMA has also established a scholarship fund to cover expenses related to the CMA KixStart program.

The idea for the KixStart program came in 2017 from two of the country music industry’s top managers, Marion Kraft (Miranda Lambert) and Mary Hilliard Harrington (Dierks Bentley). Kraft is also the CMA Board’s Artist Relations Committee Chair, while Harrington is Vice Chair of the committee.

The CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship is named after former Chairman of the CMA Board and long-serving board member, Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn. An artist advocate, Brooks drove the creation of the CMA Board of Directors’ Artist Relations Committee in 2006.

“Last year when Mary Hilliard and Marion suggested we do something to better aid those artists that could use a little extra help, or a ‘kick start’ to help them over that tipping point, we all knew it was a good idea,” said Brooks. “I suppose calling it KixStart was a little tip of the hat to me for getting this committee going in the beginning. I’m honored, but I’m not taking any credit for this one!”

Eligible applicants should have recorded music and possess performance experience, but should not have released more than one full-length album. Additionally, they should not have already charted a Top 40 song on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart, or on the Country Aircheck chart. Eligible applicants should have a working relationship with at least two CMA-member companies (including publishing, management, booking agency, public relations, or label).

“CMA and our entire community have always shown a great commitment to developing and nurturing new artists,” said Karen Fairchild, CMA and CMA Foundation board member and Little Big Town member. “When I look back to the beginning of my own music career, I know for certain a program like this would have helped accelerate my start and given me a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the business side of the industry.”

“CMA has been such a champion of my music and provided me a ton of opportunities to connect with my fans,” said Luke Combs, CMA Awards New Artist of the Year nominee in 2017. “Just three years ago, I played the stage at Walk of Fame Park at CMA Fest for the very first time and this year I get to fulfill every new artist’s dream of going across the river to play Nissan Stadium. Having CMA give me such a massive platform to play in front of a stadium full of passionate music fans is an honor. This new program will be an incredible launching pad for other artists’ dreams to come true.”

CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship submissions will be accepted starting Friday, June 1 at, where artists can review application and eligibility requirements. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, June 30 at 11:59 p.m. CT.


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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