Since beginning my blog, I often heard rising country artists along with seasoned stars/executives mention the Country Radio Seminar. Since they were back “in-person” this year, I decided to see exactly what was involved in this massive collaboration.
Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB), Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit, industry service organization responsible for staging the annual Country Radio Seminar (CRS), a three-day educational event that gathers key business leaders in various radio and music industry fields, featuring presentations on best business practices, emerging technology, personal career development, and new music showcases.
Their mission is to bring country radio and music industry professionals together to educate each other, enhance skills, facilitate business, and promote the growth of the industry.
I spoke to a 37-year veteran of CRS and executive director, RJ Curtis, to get some background information.
The first-ever CRS was in 1969. It was put together by a group of people who were in the radio and the label business.
“The idea was to bring radio and labels together every year,” states Curtis.
It originally started as a lot of DJs and then it graduated into program directors and general managers, business leaders, and executives.
He adds, “The idea was to find ways to work together better to grow the format. And that’s been the culture and philosophy of CRS ever since.”
When CRS first started, it was not as big as it is now. It was held at the Airport Hilton. Then it jumped around a bit. In the 80s and 90s, it was held at Opryland Hotel. In 1997, it moved downtown to the Renaissance where it stayed until the new Music City Convention Center and OMNI Hotel opened up in 2016.
What most surprised me was the great variety of people who show up for the three-day event. Some artists are very young and just getting started while there are seasoned veterans like the band Exile who have been together for 59 years. It is a professional development conference for anyone who is involved in the country music scene in any capacity.
Confirms Curtis, “It is networking for sure; artists, labels, certainly professional development. It’s an aggressive three full days of educational sessions with research, discussions about the future of the format, and challenges that we face. We pride ourselves on our agenda. The goal of every session is to provide some actionable data that people can take with them and start working on when they get back home on Monday.”
In my opinion, anyone who is involved in the music industry could benefit from attending CRS. And while they have many artists who return year after year to network, they are hoping to attract more young people who will attend in the future.
“They don’t have to know exactly what their career path is, whether it be working with radio, labels, DSPs, publishing, or whatever is happening in this town, but I would encourage aspiring industry professionals to come to CRS and take it in and see what may identify itself,” Curtis expounds.
He continues, “You may not figure out what you are going to do for the rest of your life as a 21-year-old college student, but you will meet people who you will know for the rest of your life. That’s important.”
I interviewed 11 different artists/bands (some of whom I knew and some I had just met) with a variety of experience and musical backgrounds to get their take on the importance of attending CRS.
Click HERE to read what Makenzie Phipps, Taylor Hughes, Alannah McCready, Alyssa Bonagura, John Berry, Nashvillains, Madison Station, Juna N’ Joey, Paulina Jayne, Noah Guthrie, and Exile had to say about CRS.
In conclusion, Kurt Johnson, of Townsquare Media and CRB President states, “There’s nothing like CRS. The educational aspect of the event is phenomenal. Gathering a huge number of radio and music business professionals to celebrate this great musical form is fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?”
You can follow Country Radio Seminar on their website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blog, Bethany Writes, Instagram, and Twitter.