Nashville Show Spotlight: Prismatic Tour

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On June 27th I woke up like any other day.  I brushed my teeth, combed my hair, added a million sparkles to my hair, and put on a purple tutu…Okay so maybe not just like any other day.  No Today was the day my friends and I had been waiting for since mid January when we had bought our Katy Perry Prismatic Tour Tickets.  We had countdowns on our phones, had planned ridiculous outfits, and my roommate would text me constantly reminding me of our plans for Friday night.

10443491_10204171619752245_6972232469165806601_nWe arrived at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville (duh) early before doors opened at 6:30 to take advantage of the photo ops and giveaways.  My roommate Sarah and I are notorious for winning said games and giveaways.

915579_1507514249460686_1529245513_nAfter hitting the booths, we made our way toward the doors and the merch (aka merchandise that is wayyyy over priced and requires waiting in line for a good 20+ minutes-unless you’re me and make your own line) table.  Here we met the cutest five year olds dressed almost exactly like us.  They sang us songs and told us all about their outfits down to the sparkles.  Their mom was also pretty awesome as we spoke about them growing up and going to college.

We then headed to our seats where the first set was already in process (whoops!). Ferras-or something of that nature-reminded me of a pineapple with his bleached blonde hair pulled up into a top bun.  He sang me 80’s ballad sounding song after 80’s ballad sounding song in his lack luster attempt to be a modern day Prince. (reasons his CD was free at the merch table).

source: Kevin Mazur/WireImagesource: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Next up on the chopping block was Capital Cities, another 80’s sounding EDM bad which is known for their one hit wonder “Safe & Sound”. One thing I wasn’t expecting to encounter was when the bad decided to dance to a track remix of their popular song…I mean dancing to your own song is a little tacky. They then attempted to teach the Bridgestone a good ol’ fashion white boy line dance to no avail but at least it allowed for some stretching before Katy took the stage.

source: Billboardsource: Billboard

After fueling up on some sports style munchies (we had kinda forgotten about eating real food in all the excitement that was getting ready for 3 hours) we waited un-patiently for Katy.

10479064_10204171620272258_7897628773181052324_nAnd then it happened in a glorious glow in the dark display.  She opened with “Roar” in which we traveled with her and her light up tribal warriors to the jungle setting.  The legit coolest aspect of this set had to be the built in treadmill to the stage and the trapdoors, or maybe it was the Prism Lotus she was delivered to us from.

10413098_493539567443568_35873289_nFollowing this mystic jungle we were transported to Ancient Egypt where Katy was Cleopatra and our warriors were now mummies and Egyptian royals.  Complete with a moving dancer pony; she sang “Dark Horse” just for me (or so say I).  I mean Juicy J was a talking sphinx with sunglasses.  Throwing it back, “I Kissed A Girl” (the song that introduced me to Katy and that I hid from my parents) took us under the pyramids to a world of mummies.  “ET” turned our pyramids tops into aliens….

…and then We ended up in one of my biggest nightmares ever.  A land where people were dressed as cats.  (I may or may not have a fear and distrust of anything small and feline).  I tried to block this part from my mind.

929135_1431391743802459_1141358852_nFor a break down set, Katy appeared to us dressed in butterflies and singing from a giant sunflower.  Here she spoke with the crowd about life’s ups and downs and how to enjoy every day you have.  she also told us of her old Nashville stomping grounds where she learned to write and attempted a career in Christian Music.  She then sang one of my favorite songs, “By the Grace of God” which is a testament to the time after her divorce from Russell Brand.

Next thing I knew there were giant balloon emogis flying around the arena and then it was all over…or was it?  No way, we had an encore with green hair and a giant birthday cake (her latest single off of Prism “Birthday” played obviously) and glitter cannons.

10520246_256610361207839_1291169011_nBut was if over after that?  No, we still had time for PrismVisionYou see, PrismVision is a magical experience requiring Prism Glasses which we had received upon entrance. Katy sang “Firework” as digital fireworks and pyrotechnics detonated flawlessly.  All seen through the sparkly PrismVision which made everything shiny and even MORE SPARKLY.  Yes, one could probably reach this point by getting high, but the intentional PrismVision made the set.

source: Celebuzzsource: Celebuzz

After “Firework” Katy crawled back into her “Prism Lotus” and waved goodbye to us all and it was officially over.  I felt like I had run a marathon, like I had gone to Vegas for two hours, like true magic had happened in front of our faces.  Cheers to you Katy Perry on one hell of a show.  And Kudos-I had to wait a week and a half to process and find the words to write this blog.

10469219_10204171622272308_3733321242963719689_nSo after a Katy Perry concert what do you do?  Well going home and watching Friends or King of Queens on Nick@Nite is not an option.  So we hit the town.  We swigged beers in a honky tonk singing “Wagon Wheel” with the hottest out-of-towners we could find. Then crossed the street to a club complete with terribly mixed pop music and enough douche bag guys willing to buy you overpriced alcohol just to dance with you.

10451064_10204171622752320_3781652105691112032_nNeedless to say rolling into bed at 2 am I was tanked. Completely and utterly exhausted from a day that seemed it would never end-and as if I wanted it to.

So friends, do yourself a favor and buy some tickets when Prismatic comes to a city near or far from you.

Best-Jess

So You Want to Get into the Music Industry

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Check out this blog post and other’s this summer on Now That’s College!

Every year freshmen infiltrate Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee with the dreams of making it big in the Music Industry.  Whether that means playing, writing, producing, managing, or marketing music-they descend into this town looking for their “break” which will usher them into the big leagues.

What they lack to understand is that they aren’t alone.  Not only are there upperclassmen vying for these jobs and opportunities, but there are post grads, those opting out of school, and newly unemployed industry professionals on the chase.  Not to mention the people in New York, Atlanta, Austin, and L.A. who are trying to make it as well.

And as the Industry becomes increasingly smaller and smaller by the month with mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcy-the available employment opportunities begin to dwindle.

For lack of a better word: the Future of the Music Industry is Bleak.  Blame Generation X, the Government, the Recession, the Internet, Piracy, and really anything else you can capitalize…but its still a reality.

So why do we still attempt the impossible? I mean, the odds are not “ever in your favor” when it comes to this type of profession.

Maybe its the last frontier to make the American Dream a reality.  It and professional sports, seem to be the only occupations left that can be won by the common man and lead them to a better life.

Maybe its all those Disney TV shows about kids turned pop stars that brainwashed our generation.  Maybe its the “You’re Special!” notation that our generation grew up on.

Then there’s the overarching theme: We are all helpless hopeless fools who have been romanticized by our love of song.  Some days I like this one: the struggling artist.  I mean we are the ones in all the movies who end up making it and get the girl…right?

But if there is one thing I have learned after living and working in Nashville for four years (and trust me I acknowledge that I have much left to learn): it is that this sense of entitlement and this foolishness cannot get you a job and it will not put food on your table.

So If after reading all this, if you still cannot squash the notion of falling into this abyss; I have five tips to help you get an edge on everyone else who is on the hunt for your dream job.

1. Buy A Suit

Regardless of how you imagine the music industry is fashion-wise, you need to buy a suit. Sure, you probably won’t be wearing it every day to work, but when you show up to an interview you want to look your best.  You want to look as serious as you are.  (And if you’re not serous, stop wasting yours and everyone else’s time).  Put your best foot forward and spend some money on this; odds are you will be donning this monkey suit quite a bit.

Ladies you need a nice dress/skirt/Hillary Clinton Pantsuit that does not show off your assets.  In this industry, mainly dominated by men, there will come a time when you are accused of using your womanhood as a way to get ahead.  If it hasn’t happened yet (and bless your heart) it will. You will also have to prove that the info in your head is actually useful for things other than fetching coffee.

To all my artists out there, this is still relevant to you.  Gigging every night will not get you the contacts you need to get a head in this industry, so just buy the suit (or at least something nice from Nordstrom) so you can have a day job.

2. Volunteer

Yes, for free.

source: Grammy365

source: Grammy365

In Nashville, it is very common for labels and different associations to ask for help around album releases and festivals such as CMA Fest. You may find yourself stuffing press packages, escorting artists, or manning an information booth passing out koozies….

Volunteering may seem unimportant or boring-and at some point it will be-but it puts you in the right place at the right time with the right people. You will meet contacts this way which can lead to future employment.  That is, if you do a job worth remembering.

Leading into my next tip, these are also Resume Builders.  Adding these opportunities to your resume make you look like you have experience (which you kinda do), a good work ethic, and an interest in working in the industry from the ground up.

3. Have Your Resume Reviewed

To all my Business people:

source: LinkedIn

source: LinkedIn

PLEASE USE SPELL CHECK.

PLEASE KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE.

PLEASE HAVE MULTIPLE COPIES-nothing is worse than showing up to an interview without having more than one copy.

PLEASE USE LINKEDIN, PLEASE.

As for Artists with their Youtube/Instagrams/Twitter Accounts/CD Baby/Reverbnation Websites/Facebook Pages:

BE SOCIAL-like actually interact with people who are interested in you.

MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS EXCELLENT QUALITY-nothing worse than shitty sound recordings or your mom’s shaky video.

POST OFTEN

HAVE A ONE SHEET

4. Get A Degree

10342431_10203741885249151_7696620081474085990_nRegardless of what you want to do in this industry, I highly recommend getting a degree.  Sure Iggy, Steve Jobs, and Taylor Swift didn’t need one, but the kicker is you are not them.  And with all the odds I laid out to you, its better to be safe than sorry and get something you can fall back on in the event that this whole crazy dreaming doesn’t pan out. Many Colleges and Universities offer Songwriting, Entertainment Industry Studies, Production, Vocal/Music, and Music Business Degrees.  So invest in yourself and get one.

5. Intern, Intern, Intern…Then Intern Again

Lastly, Please Intern, and then do it again and again.  You will learn so much about the climate of the industry and you will meet so many people who can help you with getting to where you want to be.  Some internships suck.  Those are the ones you take and still learn something from and move on.  Some internships are awesome.  Those are the ones you take and hopefully run with. Internships lead to contacts and jobs.  They are you’re big break silly. Regardless if you are bringing your boss coffee or transcribing Luke Byran’s newest interview, it is the relationships you make that will help you in the long run.  In this business its not only what you know, but who you know. So put the entitlement aside-and intern.

As for my Artists:

Play everywhere and anywhere.  Going on a family vacation? Play for the locals.  At a party? Plug in your iPhone for a song or two.  Play Everywhere and Anywhere.

Pass out your links to where people can find your music.  Get a following.  Make friends with people who are trying to get into the business/are in the business and help each other.

 

That my friends is only the tip of an iceberg and I could probably write a book of do’s and don’t’s, but hopefully these will help you reevaluate if this is for you or not.  And if it is, hopefully they lead you to where you need to be.

My Best-Jess

The 2014 CMT Music Awards: Behind the Scenes

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cmtMusicAwards-2014Last night I had the opportunity to work backstage at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena.  But when I say last night, that means I got there at 8 AM that morning…

10401726_499656626801643_121387829_nUpon arrival I had to go through credentials to get my assignments and backstage pass. Then all of the Artist Escorts (aka Me) had to gather together to learn the run down of the arena and the many paths we would need to take throughout the night.  Memorizing dressing rooms, appearance schedules, which elevators and stairs take you where…it was a lot to take in.  Thankfully, the Talent I was assigned to was not performing so I had a low key schedule until they arrived.

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Starting at about 9 AM, the final dress rehearsals began for the show prior to the final show run through.  The ever talented and beautiful Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert took to the stage to sing their new duet “Somethin’ Bad” which is featured on Lambert’s newly released album Platinum.  Between the glitter cannon and the bad ass lyrics, we all knew this performance would be the highlight of the show.

2014 CMT Music Awards_Cham640Then came the rehearsal for the opening act where Luke Bryan, ZZ Top, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Derulo (and his ever allusive dancers) all performed a mash up of their songs “La Grange”, “This is How We Roll” (which features Luke Bryan), and “Talk Dirty”.  From pyrotechnics to strategically planned remix, the act had the potential to epically fail.  Timing had to be just right, and it took several go throughs to get it down.  However, by the last run through it was show ready.

openingWe broke for lunch around 1:00 PM and that gave me some time to run through my Talent’s schedule and switch out my walkie’s battery pack.

lady-antebellum-cmt-music-awards-2014Next thing we knew, acts were arriving and the buses and dressing rooms were filling up.  Lines began to form around the Bridgestone and press was filing onto the red carpet.  Catering at Craft Services and the Crown Royal Room began to serve up food and drinks.  People were running golf carts to and from the bus lot frantically picking up and dropping off acts to rehearse.  The best way I could explain it is organized chaos.  Everywhere you looked people were running and tracking their acts.

imagesAfter picking my Talent on the red carpet, we took an elevator down to the backstage level. Here we had time for them to access the press room, WonderWall, and the Crown Royal Room to mingle with the other Talent onsite as well as their managers, publicists, and friends/spouses.

2014 CMT Music Awards - ShowYou’re main job as an escort is to be a babysitter for lack of a better term.  You keep track of where they are in the building 24/7.  You make sure they are where they need to be when they need to be.  You keep them calm, fed, glamed up, and hopefully on time.  I think that was the hardest aspect for me; trying to babysit my Talent without feeling weird.  After all, they were adults and honestly I think they were capable of going places and coming back to me on time.  Yet its live TV, and we run on a strict timetable with no room for error.  I had a booklet at least 20 pages long of our detailed schedule down to the second.

By 8:00 PM my feet were toast and we were not even half way through the show.  And I was pretty hungry seeing we hadn’t gotten a dinner.  Yet keeping up with mine and others talent (“Anyone have eyes on Luke Bryan?”, “Jess to Kelly, What’s You’re Twenty?” “Copy that”) made the time pass pretty quickly.

Next thing I knew the show was pretty much over and “ZZ Top has left the building…Lady A has left the building…Tyler Farr has left the building…Can anyone find the Derulo Dancers?” came flooding over the walkies.  As the mass exodus of stars caravaned down our hallway, they for once seemed like normal people.  It was like a college reunion where all these people who lived busy schedules were able to finally reunite and be with people who understood their lives.  They caught up and planned after parties or when they would finally catch up again.  For once, I wasn’t feeling the star struck wide eyed feelings I had to suppress all day.  These were just people under the fancy clothes and makeup.  They work harder than most people and for a few seconds in that tunnel they got to just be themselves.  It was very cool.

CMT-Music-Awards-2014-Show-PicturesAs Miranda and Blake, Carrie and Mike, Dan + Shay, and Brett Eldridge funneled out into their limos and buses, we finally met to turn in our gear and head out.  Sitting in my car had never felt so good, and I was so excited for the thunderstorm we had in Nashville last night to fall asleep to.

Perhaps I’ll get to actually watch the show sometime this week (I honestly only heard a few parts), but if I do so say myself; my view was ten times better.

-Jess

Good Bye for Now CMT

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Its my last week at CMT and just a few days until I graduate from Belmont University with a degree in Music Business (BBA).  Its a really stressful, exciting, crazy time in the world of this graduate, but keeping a regular work schedule helps. 

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This week we had Cole Swindell and Jerrod Niemann in house working on a new feature for CMT’s Listen Up!  And while I could only attend the Cole Swindell taping it was truly worth the experience.  While waiting for the set to begin, I met two women who worked for Warner in their licensing department.  It was very interesting to learn that one of them had grown up around where I had, we casually reminisced about hometown favorites (Graeters, La Rosas, Skyline) and life working in Nashville.  It was great to learn about her journey to Nashville and how she had gotten involved in the industry. 

ImageI always used to think that it would be very difficult to get into the industry as a woman and it very will still be that way, but after my time at CMT and working with other companies; I’m beginning to see this trend shift.  My supervisors and bosses at CMT were mainly women who had worked hard to get to where they were.  Many of the team leaders and contacts I had in LA and New York were majorly women.  I think its an exciting time to be breaking the glass ceiling in the entertainment and music industry. 

But back to the taping.  Cole played a few go through’s of his songs “Chillin It”, “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight”, and “Let Me See Ya Girl” and recorded a few introductions to the program.  The crowd was very excited for this up and coming artist who is touring with Luke Bryan on his That’s My Kind Of Night Tour.

ImageAt the end of taping, representatives from Warner brought Cole back up on stage to present him with two framed records.  The first was awarded to him for his single “Chillin’ It” reaching Gold; but because he had been on the road so much they were unable to award him a Platinum recognition as well. 

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It was really interesting to be able to see this all happen at the beginning of someone’s career and to see all their hard work pay off.  Regardless of what you think about Cole, the artist life style is very difficult and requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice.  Just because they always look glamorous or happy doesn’t make it so.  In the music industry the product we sell is not just music, its an experience and an image.  Taint either or be off your game once and its a major road bump-especially for a new artist. 

{check the video here: http://instagram.com/p/nETxUfuKQZ/ }

That’s what our business has become, only now its harder to hide because of social media and people like me who comment and write about everything.  We work and live and breathe in a business of perception.  There are days when the reality can smack you in the face and make you want to give it all up.  Its harsh and dog eat dog. 

But then you meet people like my coworkers at CMT, songwriters who don’t care if they have a number one they just want to write, artists with kickstarters to fund their new album, and it all gets a lot easier.  In Nashville, we look after one another, we care about each other.  Its intense but not as bad as LA and New York.  Sure there are crooks but ultimately we all have each others backs. 

I left CMT having learned so much about Media, Licensing, Corporate Life, Viacom, and Music, but also with a new set of industry friends and contacts.  My supervisors and coworkers are amazing, hands down.  They are people I hope to stay in contact with regardless of where this crazy world takes us.  My fellow interns have become great friends whom I’m sure I’ll still see and work with.  Because Nashville is that small town in the Big city.

ImageMy last day at CMT was busy for sure with exit interviews, license request letters to draft, song data to update, a programming department showcase/info session, and plenty of people to say goodbye to. My department did make time to schedule a goodbye lunch at Pub5 which was delicious.  It was definitely a great way to end my semester with the people who had taught me so much.

ImageI have plans to work the Award Show with an outside company and I have several industry contacts I’m meeting with now…so don’t count my industry blog out just yet!  Until the next big thing, I’ll be showcasing all of the art and culture and fun this town can bring you and I’ll be working with my long term job Wannado to bring you the best events in town!

My Best To You -Jess

Abiguity, Confidence, and Leadership

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Today our Senior Director sent out some great articles to our team to discuss how to deal with ambiguity in the workplace along with confidence in your leadership decisions.  I thought they were great and I think you will too:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130606150641-658789-9-qualities-of-truly-confident-people?utm_campaign=LinkedIn150&utm_content=Dealing

http://www.melanieallen.co.uk/articles/dealing-with-ambiguity/?utm_campaign=LinkedIn150&utm_content=Dealing%20with%20Ambiguity%20the%20New%20Business%20Imperative

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130829124922-284615-dealing-with-ambiguity-the-new-business-imperative

I think these articles are not only great for the workplace, but especially for interns as we deal with not really knowing what we are doing on the regular.  We’ve all heard the phrase “fake it till you make it”, but I do think there is something to be said for asking for help.  As interns we have to realize our main point of being on location is to learn.  Yes, everyone wants to be the star intern, but at the end of the day if you make a decision that you are not fully informed on-then you’re going to look like a fool.

So be wise and try hard to learn as much as you can.  As my supervisor says, “be a sponge”.

Show Spotlight: Party Down South

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ImageThis week’s Show Spotlight focuses on CMT’s newest hit show Party Down South.  The Show is brought to you by the producers of the Jersey Show and airs Thursdays on CMT at 9:00 EST.

Party Down South follows the summer of eight southern young adults and all the crazy fun they have.  Its trashy enough to keep your attention and just might remind you of some wild summers of your youth. 

Stationed in Murells Inlet, South Carolina this crew has a wild first night which includes lots of beer, peeing outside, a funnel, swimming in the canal, a late night feud, a drunken prayer from Little Bit, and ultimately the whole cast blacking out.  Yet their comradery remains and the summer is looking to be one hell of a good time. 

Make sure to like their page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PartyDownSouth) and Watch past episodes on CMT.com (http://www.cmt.com/show/party-down-south/series.jhtml).