Alaina Ellenburg, a junior entertainment and music business major at AU, knew that in order to be successful in the ever-changing entertainment business, she would need hands-on experience. That’s when she decided that she wanted to attend the Contemporary Music Center in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.
“I knew that if I didn’t start intentionally learning more about the business now, I would never be ready for what future jobs require in this field,” Ellenburg said.
While at the CMC this semester, Ellenburg is studying the business track. She is learning about artist management, concert and touring management, show production and networking. While her focus is on business, she has been challenged to learn above and beyond her niche.
“We’re expected to learn from the technical track, like how to mic the stage before a performance or how to adjust compression and EQ on the front-of-house console,” she said.
Ellenburg first decided that the CMC was the right place for her to get hands-on experience when the program’s HoloTour made a stop at Reardon Auditorium last November. After speaking with a CMC student after the concert and taking home a brochure, Ellenburg was sold on attending.
She faced difficulties funding her semester away, however.
“The biggest difficulty I faced was losing part of my annual AU scholarship, since I would not be physically studying on campus,” Ellenburg said.
After speaking with the director of financial services and getting an understanding of the cost of attending the CMC for a semester, Ellenburg did everything she could to make it happen.
She started a GoFundMe! page and spent her summer working at a restaurant, saving as much money as possible because there is no time for a job in her CMC schedule.
Her classes begin at 9:15 a.m., and some days she is done by noon. Mostly, however, Ellenburg is busy learning in the hands-on environment.“At the CMC, not only do our instructors want us to be prepared to work in the industry,
but they also encourage us to realize where our values stand within the industry,” Ellenburg said. “We’re not just challenged to be the best in our field; we’re challenged to look at different issues and see how we can advance them in order to keep the music industry moving forward.”
In the next several months, Ellenburg’s schedule will only get busier. The CMC will embark on its fall tour to close out the semester. While on tour, Ellenburg will get to put the skills she is learning now to the test.
Even though tour will leave her schedule packed, she will be done with her semester shortly before Thanksgiving. Afterward, she’ll return home before heading back to AU for the spring. According to Ellenburg, the extra time off was just an added bonus.
Her semester at the CMC has only just begun, but Ellenburg can already tell that she is where she is supposed to be.
“I am realizing that I actually have the ability to work in music business and that people in this industry need just as much healing and hope as anyone else,” Ellenburg said. “I still have no idea where I will end up in the next few years, but I am very thankful that my God has allowed me to learn about something that I have admired ever since I was a little girl. Even if God doesn’t want me to serve in the music industry, I will always be thankful for how He has brought me to this place right now in my life.”