Last week, the Country Music Association held its virtual summit for its CMA EDU Leadership Program, the program focused on career and personal development for students.
The CMA EDU Leadership Program was established in 2011 to develop and support the next generation of music industry leaders, and is offered to a select group of students from across the country who demonstrate a drive to succeed in the music business. In this past year’s class alone, 23 out of 25 graduates of the CMA EDU Leadership Program had jobs lined up before graduation, adding to the over 500 individuals in the alumni network with jobs at AEG Presents, Big Machine Label Group, CMA, Creative Nation, iHeartMedia, Red Light Management, Spotify, Republic Records/UMG, UMG Nashville, Warner Music Nashville, and more.
On Aug. 11 and 12, CMA held a virtual multi-day conference for its 2022-2023 Leadership Program, which is made up of 28 students from 16 universities and two countries. The conference is made up of two days of extensive professional development training, engaging industry education and robust networking opportunities.
Tiffany Kerns, CMA’s Vice President of Industry Relations & Philanthropy, spoke with MusicRow about the impact of the conference following its wrap.
MusicRow: What is the goal for this summit?
The purpose of the CMA EDU Leadership Summit is to provide a space for students to meet one another, understand CMA and the country format, and inspire them to be engaged with the program for the rest of the year. It is the gateway to discovering their passion. Throughout the summit, we are exposing them to industry professionals, new concepts, and ensuring they have the skills and resources to be successful not just throughout the school year, but throughout their careers. We want them to leave this experience inspired, energized, and ready to do the work to make their goals and dreams become reality.
What has the CMA EDU program meant to CMA?
The CMA EDU program is CMA’s way of connecting with a future generation of music industry leaders and ensuring our membership reflects every level of skill feeding into the business. It is not only a workforce development and job placement program, but our way of ensuring the music industry has a strong, knowledgeable, diverse and determined group of leaders who will take the music industry into the future.
What were some of your favorite moments from this year’s summit?
We had some really meaningful sessions this year. Chris Kappy—Founder and Owner of Make Wake Artists and CMA Board member—kicked off our two days with some great insight to management as well as an inspiring outlook into his role. Our very own Senior Director, Industry Relations and Inclusion, Mia McNeal, guided a session on how our students can be more inclusive in their own lives, in hopes that they become change makers on their own campuses.
We ended our first day hearing from four well-rounded CMA EDU alumni. This gave our students the opportunity to see professionals who started just like them, in this program. They gained advice on how to work hard and network. Our students started off day two learning about CMA CEO Sarah Trahern’s “11 Rules” and hearing her inspiring story, then learned how artists are utilizing social media and even spent some time setting their goals for the year.
What is your hope for this group of student leaders?
Our hope is for these students to become the next generation of leaders for the industry and ultimately build their network and community early in their professional journey. It takes a village, and we want them to value working alongside their peers now and in the future. Our programming, training and access to mentors empowers students to step into careers with composure and confidence, knowing they are supported by program leaders at CMA, music industry experts and their mentors. We hope that they are set up with the tools they need to have a successful and rewarding career.
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