Carr interns with CMA in Nashville

Published 8:30 pm Friday, June 21, 2019

By Lauren Johnson

“Since elementary school, I’ve always loved country music, and in middle school I remember telling, my dad that I wanted to do something in the industry,” said Chelsea Carr.

Following her love for county music, Carr got to experience the industry during her six-month long internship at CMA (the County Music Association) in Nashville, Tennessee. From January until June, Carr was the finance and administration intern where she performed a variety of different duties.

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“Some of the main things I did was sitting with the receptionist and answering all the crazy phone calls,” Carr laughed. She explained that she received several phone calls from people who actually thought that famous country singers lived there, and from people who would just start singing over the phone, hoping that they could make it as a country star.

“I also got to check in everybody that came in and create and update Spotify playlist for them,” she said. Carr also did work on the finance side of the business by doing the record keeping and filing. “At one point, they switched to a whole new system, so I had to do about 2,000 files and it was a really time constrained thing,” she laughed.

During CMA FEST, an annual country music festival, she helped the communications director with the media interviews for all the artist that play on all the stages through CMA.

“With the media interviews, my role was being in the one-on-one rooms,” Carr said. “I let the artist and their teams know that they were in the right spot and let the other one-on-one rooms and media outlets know when an artist came in to start their interview and when they were leaving.”

Carr was even able to run into a few country music stars during these media interviews as she was manning the time for them. Each interview had a time constraint of 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the artist.

“They had a BBC booth, a CMA booth, a Serious XM Pandora booth, a Good Morning America one, and a couple more,” said Carr. “They would go to each interview and somebody from a booth would ask the questions and do the interview. There would also be a camera guy and an audio person in there with them.”

She explained that at this major festival there are about 11 stages and all of them are free to go to, except for Nissan Stadium, which is where the bigger named country artist play. This event lasted four days, Thursday through Sunday, and ended around 10:00 each night but artists continued to play until after midnight. 

One of Carr’s favorite parts of this internship was CMA FEST. “I’ve been to CMA FEST multiple times and it was just so crazy seeing it now and watching it from a different viewpoint,” she said. “It was cool to be able to hear everybody’s departments for the last six months talk about everything that was going to happen and being able to see it all come together.”

The whole festival was filmed and will be aired on ABC on August 4, full of performances and interviews.

Besides CMA FEST, Carr loved having the chance to meet new people and learn new things. “I also enjoyed getting to know the staff at CMA and learning about the different departments,” she said.

Every couple of weeks, she along with the other 10 interns who were distributed throughout the different departments, would have a meeting with the head of each department. “We would have an hour with them where they would tell us what they do for CMA, and we got to ask them anything we wanted to know. That was really cool.”

When Carr started her internship, she was surprised to find out how small of a company CMA actually is. “I was thinking it was run by 100’s or 1,000’s of people because it’s The Country Music Association, which is like the pinnacle of country Music, but there’s only 50 or so employees spread throughout the whole company,” she explained.

One of Carr’s inspirations is Kenny Chesney, a famous country singer, and she even had the chance to tell him that he was the reason that she wanted to get into the country music industry. “At a meet and greet at Orange Beach, I asked him if he thought it would be realistic for me to pursue the music business in general, and he told me to go for it,” she said with a smile. “Then I told him that he was the reason why I wanted to.”

“Kenny Chesney has always been my all-time favorite artist,” she said. “I’ve never wanted to do the actual artist side of anything, but just going to watch him and watching even his stage crew, production crew, social media crew, and all of that, over time it just built to where I wanted to get in that industry.”

Carr, who is originally from Troy and a graduate from Charles Henderson High School, just graduated from Troy University this May with a degree in marketing and a minor in music industry.

“For my minor at Troy, I had to complete an internship,” Carr explained. “As I researched all the places, I would say that CMA was for sure my top pick out of all the record labels. It’s not just one label with a few artists, and it doesn’t discriminate against anybody.”

While working at CMA, Carr learned not to judge a book by its cover. “Before I did this internship, I just didn’t know how much of the little details went into putting on a massive festival,” she said. “Also, with the whole media side, I learned a lot about the filming part of things and how that works. I just didn’t know all the intricate details like how much the lighting, the audio, and the way the cameras are set up matters.”

For as long as she can remember, Carr has always wanted to do something in the country music industry. She still isn’t sure what she is going to end up doing or if she is even going to do anything else in the industry yet, but for now she plans to stay around Troy.

“Its not out of the question and I’m not saying that I won’t ever live in Nashville again or do anything in the music business in the future, but right now, for the near future, I’m going to try to find a normal job around here,” she said.