Students travel to CMA Awards for music industry experience

CMA EDU executive officers Abbey Johnson, Morgan Brown and Haley Margies outside the arena in Nashville.

At the end of October, CMA EDU chapter president Morgan Brown got an email about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Country Music Association’s annual awards show was coming up, and the NC State chapter’s student members were being invited to participate as volunteers.

The words “once-in-a-lifetime” were enough to convince Brown, who shared the opportunity with the other members of the NC State chapter. Four other students – Abbey Johnson, Haley Margies, Michael Bissell and Joe Raymond – signed up to go with her.

“There were a variety of volunteer opportunities that they needed,” said Brown. “Because I didn’t want to miss a lot of class, I volunteered to be a seat filler for the awards.” A seat filler is someone who sits in the seat of an awards show attendee when they are needed on stage, so that the audience doesn’t look empty when the cameras are on it.

“They gave us the opportunity because they trusted us and we had to be extremely professional around big-name artists,” said Brown. “It was a professional networking type of deal, you couldn’t just fangirl around them.”

CMA EDU is a campus-based professional development program which operates at NC State as a student organization affiliated with the Department of Music. It gives college students an inside look into the music and entertainment industry and provides them with the skills and connections they need to start a career in the industry. In return, the students assist with research, marketing and promotional efforts on campus for CMA and its industry partners.

The NC State chapter is the only one in North Carolina. In the spring semester, Brown says the group will work with The Ritz in Raleigh to market upcoming concerts, including Scotty  McCreery. Brown, who wants to pursue a career in marketing for either entertainment or sports, hoped that the trip to Nashville would help her find some clarity and next steps for after graduation in the spring.

Joe Raymond, Abbey Johnson, Morgan Brown, Scott Scovill of Moo Creative Media, Haley Margies and Michael Bissell after breakfast in Nashville.

To that end, she arranged for the group to meet with Scott Scovill of Moo Creative Media in Nashville, an entertainment company that organizes tours for musicians like Brad Paisley. Scovill had visited NC State to speak with the chapter a few years earlier, and he met up with the group for breakfast while they were in town. “He went around the table and asked each of us, ‘What do you want to do with your life? What’s your goal and how do you plan on getting there?’ That was a learning and eye-opening experience for all of us,” said Brown.

All in all, it was a positive and exciting experience for the group. “It’s special to be in Nashville during a time when country music was being celebrated, and just being inside that arena while the awards were going on and you were surrounded by all those people in the industry,” said Brown. “It’s really important to network when you have those opportunities so one day you can hopefully use those contacts to get a job or internship in the industry.”