Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, TN
Spring 2012 is all about the Contemporary Music Center (CMC.) I’m in the business track of the program, so I can learn all about the music industry from Music City’s finest, right here in lovely Nashville, Tennessee or “Nashvegas” (Well, close to it, anyway.) Hopefully, you (Trinity students-past, present, and future) will learn a little something about Best Semester’s music program and about what’s going on in Music City!
Music City Connections-Royal Tailor
CMC sure has its share of surprises throughout the semester! With just six total staff members the number of connections each one has in this town alone truly amazes me. Each one speaks with ease about their friends, generally settling for first names. They often mention “Kelly” (Clarkson, of course) and “the Jars boys” (aka Jars of Clay). Clarkson’s back-up singers are CMC alums and the director of our program taught the guys of Jars of Clay when they attended Greenville College.
From week to week, all 28 of us are given chances to make connections and spend time with people involved in the industry at varying levels. From conversations with long-time managers of world renowned artists, to intimate indie performances on the stage we call home for the semester, to load-ins and staffing major tour stops, it all happens here in Music City.
Earlier this month, recently-signed and Grammy-nominated Provident act Royal Tailor came to our building in Brentwood for a live video shoot. While the majority of music videos are shot using playback, the young band showcased the stamina of their stage presence and skill by playing live the whole night.
The band’s bio is spot-on describing their sound as one that “evokes Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and a hint of Michael Jackson, Royal Tailor captures audiences with an infectious musicality.”
The energetic, soulful quartet originally met while attending Bible college in the St. Louis area and played around while ministering to youth in the area. After playing a battle of the bands showcase for INO records, guitarist DJ Cox said the guys got their hopes up only to find that nothing would initially come of it.
Refusing to give in, the now Nashville-based guys played at every opportunity before finding themselves with a gig at Leeland Mooring’s home church in Texas. According to Cox, the band gained the attention of PMG’s A&R team because Mooring got a hold of their EP.
A week later, the band signed a recording contract and began working on the 50 songs viable for their debut album, Black and White. Cox noted that their career didn’t skyrocket as soon as they had hoped, as they lived in “lawyer land” for six to eight months prior to Black & White’s May 2011 release, the first single, and a tour with label-mate band “Building 429.”
Currently on the road with Casting Crowns through the spring, Royal Tailor has hit the ground running in regards to promotion. Just off the heels of a trip down the Grammy red carpet, the band has also been touring non-stop for months.
Following an engaging, live set, the four band mates and their management hung around with both CMC students and staff to talk about anything from gear and early musical influences to future endeavors.
Guitarist DJ Cox grew up in Virginia where he played mandolin and acoustic by ear before discovering his mom’s funk CD. He laughed at the childhood memory, “I was like ooh man, so I stole it”. Cox discussed his “monster” pedal board, featuring a vast range of brands and effects, with resident CMC electric player Jase Hackman. He also drew quite a crowd as he moved on through his guitar collection and his favorite players.
I’m always intrigued when musicians talk in detail about their gear. In many ways, it’s another language, but it creates the sounds that we music freaks live for.
Cox came back to his youth ministry roots as he spoke about the band’s current vision: visiting middle schools and high schools to perform and encourage kids to speak out against bullying. The passion was evident in DJ’s voice as he spoke about both the ministry and the music.
Like other visitors, the guitarist talked on the value of taking risks in life. “It’s been a rough first year [being on a label], but whatever you’re going to do, you just got to get out there and do it”.
Life in Nashville
There is certainly something special about living in the South. Although there are days I miss the blooming trees on our beautiful campus, Tennessee is in some ways even more gorgeous this time of year.
Life in Nashville has been so much more than I ever could have imagined. It truly is a big city with a small town feel. This tight-knit community (just 28 students and six total staff) has been just what I needed. It's been really great getting to know everyone—we feel as if we've known each other for years instead of mere months!
Time is surely flying by as we will be heading home in less than a month, but we are continuing to learn so much. The director of our program says that because of the hands-on nature of CMC, what we learn here in 14 weeks takes 3+ years to learn on your own in the industry, so I’ve been soaking in every second of it! (Now you know why I don’t get to update you as often as I’d like—my apologies!) I know now more than ever that this is where I am supposed to be and that I could not have experienced any of this elsewhere. Through our classes and staff connections, we have the pleasure of meeting up with producers, engineers, and managers who work with world-class artists and musicians on a day-to-day basis.
As a part of the business track, I’ve been managing 3 of the 15 artists who are also studying here. Along with that, the business students carry the responsibility of planning and promoting a week-long tour of CCCU schools where the artists perform their original works and the tech students take care of audio, lights, etc. Our tour begins Thursday night in Indiana; from there we will travel to a few Illinois schools. Trinity was booked, but it would have been great to bring CMC to everyone there.
Through this experience, I have not only learned an incredible amount about the industry, but also so much about myself. I praise God for this amazing opportunity each day and for those at Trinity who made it logistically possible.
As I was warned, I’ve certainly become attached to this place… Do I really have to come home for one last year of normal school?
It has been far too long. My apologies.
Our weeks here are super jammed packed between classes, managing artists, and tour planning and preparation. We spend hours upon hours doing what we love. For the artists, this includes songwriting, rehearsing with a full band made up of any combination of the 28 of us, performing each week, and recording what they’ve written in our own recording studio! Tech students are always in the mix as they do all of the technical aspects for our live shows (lighting, audio, stage crew) as well as producing, engineering, and mixing tracks in the studio. Everybody has been working extra hard to prepare for our big project for the semester—a live tour! No joke, we get to hit the road in a bus and show everyone what we’ve been up to. I’m so excited.
Business students like me have been preparing non-stop for everything tour-related. We are in charge of everything from budgeting to booking hotels to publicizing in every way possible. Last week, we presented everything we’ve done for the tour to Nashville local Ryan Lampa. Lampa is a tour and road manager for TobyMac and brother of recording artist Rachael Lampa. He was encouraging in the advice he gave and was impressed by the work we’ve put in so far. It was very helpful and inspiring to hear from someone who has done nearly every job on the road from the time he was very young. Later in the day, Lampa shared about the ups and downs of the various jobs he’s held in the industry as well as stories about road life with TobyMac and the Diverse City Band. Since coming to CMC, we have heard our share of cautionary tales of the industry along with very humorous stories from industry folks themselves. After 28 or so hours of tour rehearsal at Lipscomb University this weekend, we are all ready and raring to get this show on the road! We leave early Thursday morning and have our first stop in Indiana that night!
Below is the official CMC Spring Tour 2012 press release that I put together and sent out to each of our venues…
NASHVILLE MUSIC PROGRAM SENDS STUDENTS ON MIDWEST SPRING TOUR
The Contemporary Music Center gives students the opportunity to share their semester of experiences with their peers by visiting college campuses and venues from March 29-April 3.
Nashville, Tenn –March 16, 2012 –With a truck filled to the brim with a state of the art sound system, lighting rig, professional video and killer gear, and a bus filled with 30 Christian college students like you, the CMC is hitting the road on its bi-annual college campus tour. CMC students will play an action-packed concert of original pop, rock, folk, indie and electronic music to audiences throughout the Midwest and will play alongside some of the campus's best original bands.
The Contemporary Music Center (CMC) is a semester off-campus study program for music students from across the country. The CMC is located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and provides students the completely hands-on experience of planning and executing a week-long tour to various cities.
The tour will take place for just one week, so don’t miss live shows at the following venues:
CMC Live Spring Tour 2012 (all dates subject to change)
March 29—Indiana Wesleyan University/Marion, IN
March 30—The Union/Naperville, IL
March 31—Trinity International University/Deerfield, IL
April 1—Judson University/Elgin, IL
April 2—Greenville College/Greenville, IL
April 3—The Hardscuffle/Brentwood, TN
Lessons in Spontaneity: Life at the Contemporary Music Center
Hello fellow Trinity students! That’s right, although you haven’t seen me on campus this semester, I am, in fact, still enrolled there. I’m currently studying music business at the Contemporary Music Center (CMC) through Best Semester, a Trinity-endorsed program, with 27 other students from across the country. Where is the CMC, you ask? We’re based just outside of Music City—Nashville, Tennessee. Come back to hear/read more about my adventures as I live out my dreams! (More on CMC at CMCNashville.com)
Things happen fast here at CMC. We have only been here for about 10 days, and we’re beginning to see that life rarely turns out the way in which we expect. The CMC doesn’t provide us with articulated syllabi, like we’re accustomed to at any of our home institutions. We’ve had to let go of our scheduled lives of lists and jump into a world of spontaneity.
With the dawn of a fresh semester, virtually everything has changed: a new state, new people, new classes, new professors, new roommates, and new assignments-- you get the picture. For me, something else changed too; I turned 21 on our first full day of living here in Nashville.
Having previously been someone who generally embraced plans and lists, I’ve certainly sensed that this semester is exactly what I need—in various ways. That being said, when one of my roommates told us that Matt Thiessen (of Relient K) would be playing at a show in the city the very next night, we knew we couldn’t pass it up. Did we know a single fact about any of the bands he would be playing with? Absolutely not. Did we care that we knew nothing of the sort? Absolutely not, yet.
Already having learned from our program director, Warren, that timing is vital in this industry, my three new friends and I headed downtown in plenty of time for the mystery show, only to find that Thiessen had cancelled just days before.
The opening act, Vinyl Thief, presented itself well and had a sound reminiscent of Phoenix and The Killers. Headlining Belmont University students, Church Mice, were celebrating their LP release and brought local musician friends like Tyler James up with them.
Photo by Kelsey Peachy
Photo by Kelsey Peachy
We enjoyed discovering new music and a little more about each other that night. I think I could get used to this whole living spontaneously thing.
Allow Me to Introduce Myself.
1. God is my everything. My hope and victory are in Him. He is all I need.
2. I am passionate about serving people and dealing with issues like homelessness, human trafficking, the water crisis, depression/self-harm/suicide, and pro-life. I support several causes/non-profits who provide hope to people: To write love on her arms (depression, suicide, self-harm, etc.), Mocha Club (Africa-water, sustainability), IJM/Love 146/FREE THE BIRDS (sex trade/human trafficking), LiNK-liberty in North Korea (aid to North Korean refugees), StandUp for Kids (homeless teens, etc.), and Jedidiah (humanitarian).
3. Music is a huge part of who I am; I’ve been passionate about it for as long as I can remember. I can’t live without the music of Switchfoot, NeedToBreathe, Mat Kearney, Parachute, Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, Anberlin, Tenth Avenue North, or The Rocket Summer.
4. All kinds of new things are coming soon, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been so terrified and excited for this semester to begin. My heart is heavy yet light.
5. I was born 2.5 months early and am technically a twin. My brother was even smaller than me and passed away after two days. I was in the hospital for several months after being born.
6. I’ve pretty much lived in the same little house since I was born (save for living at school during five semesters so far.)
7. I often tell people I was "meant to be born in the south" because of my near hatred of the Midwest’s cold weather.
8. I am the oldest of four (five if you count my twin) children. It’s a blessing and a curse. My family, immediate and extended, means the world to me.
9. I hope to adopt my children, someday. Random but true.
10. I strive to make an impact in this world and long to see change for the glory of God.