Behind the show, there are some amazing people that you will never hear about. There are people that put in hours upon hours of unglamorous work, and they are often the people that keep it all moving.
Michelle Tigard Kammerer is a great example of this type. I hope you have the chance to meet her; she’s one of the good ones.
Michelle works for Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Nashville. CAA is one of the top talent agencies in the world, working with everything in the entertainment industry, including: Music, TV, Movies, Broadway, Marketing, Literary, Branding, Gaming, etc. Michelle works in the music department and more specifically, the Country Music Department in the Nashville office. There she works with a roster of over 500 artists worldwide, but specifically focuses on 100+ of CAA’s Nashville Country Roster.
Under Stan Barnett & Marc Dennis, she has personally been involved with: Lady Antebellum, Montgomery Gentry, Billy Currington, Rodney Atkins, Joe Nichols, Kellie Pickler, Bill Engvall, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, Keith Anderson, Trent Tomlinson, Heidi Newfield and the Lost Trailers. She has helped book shows in Arenas, Coliseums and Amphitheatres in the Midwest and Western Canada, plus Fairs and Festivals throughout the entire US.
Clore: How about a quick intro, in your own words?
MTK: I’m a twenty-something (emphasis on the “something”) country girl from small-town Kansas, who’s been in love with Country music since I was old enough to listen. I had a dream to work with the music I loved, and help get that music to as many people as possible. So, after college, I packed up everything I owned and without knowing a soul in Nashville (or ever actually having been to Nashville), moved here. Sounds like a Country song, doesn’t it?
Clore: During your time in the music industry, you’ve seen (up close) artists with huge teams around them, and artists that no one seems to care about, at all. Especially considering personal relationships you have with artists of both sort, how do you mentally and emotionally approach working with these different types of artists?
MTK: Personally, I work with every artist the same way. Whether they are making a million dollars a night or playing for tips, they’re all talented and special, or we wouldn’t be working with them. One of my mentors once told me, “Follow the music and the money will come.” That’s one of the coolest things about the music business, the guy who was working for peanuts one day can have a hit song and be the biggest thing in town the next week. So, I guess it goes back to the golden rule: “Treat everyone the way you’d want to be treated” (whether they’re making you money or not).
Clore: When a musician has the urge to “make it” in the music world, what are your recommendations on where to start? Do you need to be in a particular geographic location, know certain people, have certain talent, have a certain drive?
MTK: Everyone’s journey is different. But I would say, use every resource you have. If you have something to say musically, go find a place to play in front of an audience. If you know people in the music industry or radio, go talk to them. If you have Pro Tools on your computer, record some stuff. If there’s a talent competition, enter it. There’s no set “career ladder” to climb. I’ve seen artists become huge overnight because of MySpace and YouTube, so use those too. You have to be driven and never stop. Sometimes it takes years. You just CAN’T give up. Basically, find a way to make enough noise that someone listens.
Clore: For the younger generation of music industry types, what would you say to them is the most important topic/subject to be knowledgeable about today?
MTK: I think the digital media world is a MUST right now. It used to be a side note in the music business blueprint, but now it’s front and center. Know how to use MySpace, iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, iLike, Twitter, cell phone ringtones, and anything else you can find. As an artist, using those digitals tools, you can build a fan base, sell your own records & merchandise, and, if you’re going after a record deal, can show the label you have a loyal following that will purchase the music you’re wanting to make with them. As a music business person, you need to know the best way to market your artist and that is digital media, hands down. The game has changed and it’s going to the be the most creative and digitally savvy that are going to win.
Clore: You have been involved with creating and/or implementing many great events in the Nashville area (where you call home). What have been some of your highlights, and learning moments, during said events.
MTK: I think working with Lady Antebellum from day one was a real learning experience. The first night I saw them, there were about 12 people in the room. Being part of the launching process, and watching them grow as artists, has been a true honor. Seeing them sing in front thousands of people now, just makes my heart smile. Also, I’ve been blessed to work with a company that believes in giving back. I’ve headed up the CAA Supports Our Soldiers Campaign, where CAA and our clients send care packages every month to US soldiers overseas; Red Cross Blood Drives, where managers, promoters, clients and others in the music industry donate their blood to make a difference; and the Young Nashville Party, which is an annual charity event hosted by CAA for Nashville’s “most influential young industry professionals,” including CAA clients, music industry executives and young entrepreneurs. Being able to help artists give back to their fans and show the same love they are given is a true highlight.
Clore: What is it about music that keeps you going? Did you always “know” you would land in this industry?
MTK: Music is in my soul. It’s the language that brings us all together. It’s the song that comes on the radio that makes whatever you’re going through ok. I’ve had music in my head for as long as I can remember. It’s a part of me. There was never really a choice whether I’d go into the music industry or not. I came to Nashville not knowing a soul, but knowing I had to be a part of what I loved. So, I worked hard, networked my way in and have been learning and growing ever sense. Truly, I don’t know where my road will lead, but I know there’s way too much good music out there, and as long as I’m here, I’m going to try it.