CMT New Mentorship Program Pairs Emerging Artists with Top Producers and Music Industry Leaders

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As part of its continuation of supporting emerging country artists, CMT has launched a year-long mentorship program for the industry’s next rising stars.

The network will extend its Artist Discovery initiative by hosting 12 unsigned developing country artists in its CMT Studio in Nashville over one year to record demos with country’s leading producers in effort to launch their careers. 

Once the demos are recorded, each artist will have an opportunity to learn from mentors comprised of industry leaders. Though the program is not affiliated with any label, the CMT expects that through the mentorship program, artists will be able to play their music to label A&R representatives.

Among the advisors will be Grammy-winning songwriter Liz Rose, Maverick Management’s Amanda Cates, A&R consultant Tracy Gershon, Sweet Talk Publicity’s Jensen Sussman, mtheory Nashville’s Cameo Carlson, and Fusion Artist Music's Daniel Miller. 

“We are proud to expand CMT’s Artist Discovery program,” said Leslie Fram, CMT’s senior vp of music and talent, in a statement. “Many unsigned artists do not have the financial resources for professional demos, or guidance on how to propel their careers forward, and this first-of-its-kind program can provide both.” The move comes as CMT celebrates its highest rated year since 2014 among adults 18-49 and women 18-49 and has notched seven consecutive quarters of year-over-year ratings. 

Following Oct. 17’s  all-female CMT Artists of the Year special, the first recording session will aptly pair emerging female artist Parker McKay with producer Alex Kline, who has worked with stars such as Reba McEntire, Terri Clark and “CMT Next Women of Country” member Tara Thompson.

CMT’s Artist Discovery program launched in 2014 to identify and better connect emerging country music artists with fans. The six-week program spotlights unsigned talent through exclusive world video premieres on CMT Music and and custom promotion on all CMT platforms.

Participants in the new mentorship program, which does not have an on-air component, will be picked through the Artist Discovery program. Artists and their teams send their music directly to the CMT music department, which will select artists based on the quality of their music and if they are currently working on their career through touring, releasing music etc. 

CMT’s Artists Discovery Program has been wildly successful. Among the artists featured in the program who have subsequently been signed to major and leading independent labels are Luke Combs, Old Dominion, Jillian Jacqueline, Chris Lane, Mitchell Tenpenny, Alyssa Bonagura, Drew Baldridge and Tenille Arts.

On a smaller scale, earlier this year the Country Music Assn. launched the KixStart Artist Scholarship. The year-long program, named after long-serving board member Kix Brooks, connects up to three developing artists with industry professionals for advice, as well as provide opportunities to participate in CMA-related events, including CMA Fest, CMA  Songwriters Series and the C2C: Country to Country festival in the U.K.