Student to start Country Music Association EDU chapter at ASU

(Photo by Cassidy Trowbridge) Communications junior Layla Jones is the creator of ASU's chapter of Country Music Association EDU, helping musically inclined students gain hands-on experience. (Photo by Cassidy Trowbridge)

For communications junior Layla Jones, a career business plan assignment that began with stress and uncertainty ended with the creation of ASU's chapter of Country Music Association EDU.

Jones is starting a CMA EDU chapter to help students interested in the music, entertainment and special events industries gain hands-on experience. The chapter will provide many opportunities for students to grow.

The goal for this chapter is to bring together students who share a love for country music and are interested in being a part of the industry, she said.

“Students interested in the music industry should try it out,” she said. “Many don’t know about these opportunities. I didn’t, and to think that you could actually do events and be a part of something like CMA is amazing.”

Students who are performers will also have the opportunity to showcase their skills with this chapter, as members will be required to plan events and find the talents on their own, she said.

One of the requirements for members is to do a Q&A; with an upcoming artist who is found by the chapter members, Jones added.

“You’ll be there doing it, instead of watching or reading about in a textbook,” she said. “But as a student, you have the school to back you, you got the CMA company backing you and you have all this support and help, but you do it yourself.”

Jones, who is getting a certificate in special events management, said she was struggling with an assignment that involved planning out her career in a business plan when the idea arose.

After meeting with her professor, who guided her to the country category, she came across CMA and its EDU program, which immediately sparked her interest.

“So my school project for one of my classes turned into figuring out what I wanted to do with my life in general,” she said. “The CMA EDU chapter was the icing.”

Although there are a couple of steps pending to finalize a chapter at ASU, Jones is confident the chapter will be a great benefit for many students.

“There’s a lot of country everywhere,” she said. “To be able to have something like this on our campus is going to be an incredible opportunity for everyone involved.”

Tiffany Kerns, community outreach manager for CMA, said students not only get industry insight but are treated as professionals in the field by just being a member.

“We ask the industry to treat every chapter as business professionals and to have conversations in dialogue in the same fashion,” she said.

Kerns said students have many benefits in CMA EDU chapters, including getting in contact with local industry leaders in every chapter's area.

“There are benefits like internships, volunteer opportunities at music festivals or concerts or meet-and-greet opportunities,” she said. “Those things are strictly available for CMA members.”

The chapters are designed for students to create insight and development pieces to become the best future industry leaders by providing the resources and tools needed when they enter the workforce, Kerns said.

The goal for the chapters is for students to get a clear image of what the industry really consists of to help students determine their career path within or outside the industry, she said.

“We definitely try to give them an honest and transparent view, that way they can make their decision based on true facts,” she said.

CMA EDU started in 2010 and is now present on 11 campuses nationwide. Kerns said 75 percent of those chapters were just founded last year.

Vernon Biaett, who teaches event management, said this chapter is a great opportunity to learn and grow. Any experience that can be gained before students enter the real world will really help make the job easier, he said.

“The more they can learn about entertainers, the better event planners they will be,” he said. “That’s where I really thought it came through.”

Being a successful event planner involves not only great skills and knowledge but understanding the behaviors of performers, Biaett said. He said he is hopeful this chapter will open those doors.

“The biggest part about the idea is that not a lot of people get the chance to be around some bigger entertainment acts,” he said. “Hopefully this CMA (chapter) will lead to the possibility that students could be around them and learn their needs.”

Students interested in getting this chapter started or being involved in it should contact Jones at

Reach the reporter atagloya@asu.eduor follow her on Twitter @loyadriana

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