Luke Combs Surprises Students At CMA’s Fifth Annual EDU Executive Summit In Nashville

Pictured (L-R): River House Artists President/Chief Executive Officer Lynn Oliver-Cline, Sony Music Nashville Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Ken Robold, Sony Music Nashville Executive Vice President, Promotion & Artist Development Shane Allen, Sony Music Nashville Vice President, A&R Taylor Lindsey, CMA Project Manager of Community Outreach Lindsey Jones, Luke Combs, Sony Music Nashville Chief Executive Officer Randy Goodman, Sony Music Nashville Marketing Director Paige Altone, Sony Music Nashville Associate Director, Digital Strategy Jessica Valiyi, Sony Music Nashville Director, Sales & Streaming Alaina Vehec, Sony Music Nashville Executive Vice President, Promotion & Artist Development Steve Hodges, and Sony Music Nashville Associate Director, Media Mary Catherine Kinney. Photo: Hunter Berry/CMA

The Country Music Association (CMA) hosted its fifth annual CMA EDU Executive Summit July 22-24 for executive officers of CMA EDU collegiate chapters, and Luke Combs surprised students by stopping by this year’s event to participate in a panel on Digital and Marketing Strategies. Each year, CMA’s collegiate program welcomes the executive leadership students to Nashville for intense training and industry exposure to help lead their chapters and support the country music industry on their campuses.

Students attending the summit were given opportunities to build relationships with industry professionals and gain insight from presentations by industry executives. Presentations included Sony Music Nashville Chief Executive Officer Randy Goodman discussing the “Evolution of Digital Streaming,” followed by a panel with the Sony Music Nashville team behind the digital and marketing strategies that elevated Luke Combs’ career. Panelists included Executive Vice President, Promotion & Artist Development Shane Allen, Marketing Director Paige Altone, Associate Director, Media Mary Catherine Kinney, Vice President, A&R Taylor Lindsey, Associate Director, Digital Strategy Jessica Valiyi, and Director, Sales & Streaming Alaina Vehec. Halfway through the panel, students received a surprise as Combs walked through the door to join the Sony team on stage to talk about his creative role as an artist and how he works with his label team. Combs and the team shared the branding identity behind Combs and the journey of his career while giving the students an understanding of all the behind-the-scenes roles throughout the phases of an artist’s career.

Attendees were also given a look into the history of CMA from CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern and current initiatives of the CMA Foundation from CMA Foundation Executive Director Tiffany Kerns and CMA Senior Director of Marketing Catherine Frizzell. Guest speakers included Nashville Convention & Visitor Corp President/Chief Executive Officer Butch Spyridon and Concord Music Senior Director, National Grass Roots, Video & Tour Promotion Ayappa Biddanda.

CMA EDU alumni spoke during a panel titled “From CMA EDU to Industry Professional,” which featured Marbaloo Marketing Interactive Assistant Alden Burge, Red Light Management Assistant Briarman Whitfield, and Universal Music Group, Capitol CMG Coordinator, Commercial Partnerships Lauren Tidwell, sharing what it’s like to work in the industry.

CMA EDU encompasses 3,000 collegiate members within 18 chapters at universities across the country. During the summit, nearly 50 members represented 13 university chapters, including students from Belmont University, Vanderbilt University and University of Tennessee Knoxville as well as the University of Southern California, University of Miami and Temple University. CMA EDU is designed to provide students around the country with an inside look into the music business through volunteer and networking opportunities within the industry.

CMA Project Manager of Community Outreach Lindsey Jones moderates a panel discussion with Marbaloo Marketing Interactive Assistant Alden Burge, Universal Music Group, Capitol CMG Coordinator, Commercial Partnerships Lauren Tidwell, and Red Light Management Assistant Briarman Whitfield during the CMA EDU Executive Summit. Photo: Hunter Berry/CMA

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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has over 20 years of music business experience and has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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