Alumni Spotlight

Spotlight on Brent Rawlings

Brent Rawlings

What is your hometown?
My hometown is Rockvale, TN.

What year did you graduate and in what area of concentration were you?
I graduated in 1993. My minor was Electronics and specifics were in Music Production. Most likely equates to Music Biz.

Why did you choose the RIM program?
I knew I wanted to work in music in some shape or form and felt MTSU was well rounded enough to give me all the necessary tools.

Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
My dad was offering to pay for my education and I was already playing music. It just made sense to find a school with similar interests and surround myself with a bunch of like-minded individuals. In my early 20s I knew I’d be a bass player. Then I saw Bela Fleck give a performance on campus and Victor Wooten made me realize I should bone up on my engineering skills. I’ll never forget that day.

What was the first concert you attended?
Willie Nelson with my parents.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
Royal Blood, Tame Impala

What is your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
On tour I do front of house mix. Off tour I’m monitor engineer for rehearsals, multitrack demos for upcoming albums, help at band’s home studios, and many other manual labor style jobs like lifting gear and sweeping floors. I run internet and speakers for occasional parties. This list could go on and on.

What career path did you take to end up in your current position?
I opened a small studio. It had a tape machine and a computer. Pre-laptop recording. I also ran sound at local clubs and still do when the opportunity arises. Being part of the local scene was/is the key to getting any work.

What's the coolest thing about your job?
It’s not a 9 to 5.

Was there any advice or key learning during your time in the program that you still find applicable today?  Any life lessons?
There’s no way for the Industry to absorb every individual that comes through the program. Those words from a teacher stuck with me

What advice would you have for students who are preparing to graduate soon?
The song is way more important than the kick sound.

What words of wisdom do you have for students coming into the program?  Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Go to every class and sit in the front. Get involved in as many things as possible.

In which RIM class do you wish you had paid more attention?  Why?​
Studio Maintenance. The skill of troubleshooting is underrated. It seems a whole course could be taught on this topic. As things have gone digital, I’ve become more of network engineer than I ever imagined.

 

Spotlight on Aaron Tannenbaum

Aaron Tannenbaum

What is your hometown?
Lynchburg VA.

What year did you graduate and in what area of concentration were you?
2002. Music Business.

Why did you choose the RIM program?
I had a gut feeling when touring the campus that the program was the right fit for me.

Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
No, once the love of music became a real passion for me through school and friends, I knew I would be involved in some capacity the rest of my life.

What was the first concert you attended?
Bob Dylan.

What is your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
Agent CAA. Planning, negotiating, and executing anything related to touring and expanding an artist career and creative goals.

What career path did you take to end up in your current position?
Receptionist, Agent Assistant, Agent.

What's the coolest thing about your job?
The coolest thing about my job is seeing an artist on stage and proud of his or her accomplishments.

What advice would you have for students who are preparing to graduate soon?
Out work everyone, be kind and honest.

What words of wisdom do you have for students coming into the program? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Do as many internships as you can. No classroom can substitute for being present in the day-to-day operations of a job that you are interested in.

 

Spotlight on Anderson Hall

Anderson Hall

What is your hometown?
My hometown is Chattanooga, TN. I was born in Chattanooga, but my family moved around fairly often throughout my childhood. During those moves, we lived in Jackson, TN for a long span of time too. In Jackson, I really started my devotion to music when I picked up my primary instrument on guitar. But when I started attending college, my family moved back to Chattanooga and been here ever since then.

What year did you graduate and in what area of concentration were you?
I graduated in December of 2014 with an Audio Production Concentration. I tried my best to take as many live audio courses that were offered.

Why did you choose the RIM program?
I chose the RIM program because I was accepted to MTSU my freshman year; however, I was living in NC at the time and attended Appalachian State University for a few semesters. After my family moved back to TN, I gained in state tuition at MTSU, so I transferred in Spring of 2012. The main reason I chose the RIM program is in the past I considered a career in the studio side of the recording industry, and MTSU was the top choice school for that. Over time, I discovered that my true passion was in Live Audio as I engineered concerts, theatrical musicals, and corporate events. Also, I had developed a passion for music as I continued to learn multiple instruments including guitar, piano, bass, mandolin, violin, and vocals. I realized that my passion and knowledge of all of these instruments could be harnessed even more as an audio engineer controlling the timbre of each one along with other instruments too.

Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I don't know if I had one specific or defining moment that I knew exactly. I have always had a huge passion for music, so it was almost as if I knew in my younger adolescence. I had been performing often, but just started to learn the audio production side of things. It was my freshman year of high school when I started mixing live theatre that I began to get a strong passion of sitting at a console.

What was the first concert you attended?
The first major world tour sized concert I saw was The Eagles on their Long Road Out of Eden tour. It was a great show, and they were the only band performing that night. It felt like they played for almost three hours. It was pretty good seats that we had too. Ironically they are a client of the production company I work for, Clair Global.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
I regularly listen to Bob Dylan & The Band, who backed up Dylan for many years. I have tons of their albums, digital and vinyl, that I enjoy. I also have had the pleasure to see Bob Dylan live a few times on his recent tours. I also listen to Steely Dan very often. I've seen Steely Dan live three times over the years. Lately, I've also started listening to Grateful Dead with the classic album American Beauty. I've seen the current version of their band, Dead and Company, live with John Mayer a few times recently too. Other artists include The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Tom Petty, and Neil Young.

What is your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
My current position is Clair Road Staff where I tour with a variety of artists. This past year I worked with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts as Monitor Engineer with In Ear Monitors, Floor Wedges, and Side Fills on a Digidesign D-Show console. I toured with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on their Soul to Soul World Tour as PA Tech, where I was responsible for hanging three line arrays and two sets of subs on stage right, putting up all of the front fill speakers where the arrays don't cover, and setting up each of the opening acts' performances too. This year I also did a one off at Fenway Park to end James Taylor's tour where they added four sets of delay speakers that I helped setup.

What career path did you take to end up in your current position?
My career path has always been live audio. I really truly began this career at MTSU Production Services (MTPS). I started off as a stagehand just helping set up shows and tear them down. Over the years, I really worked my way up and was Monitor Tech, Monitor Engineer, FOH Engineer, and System Engineer on numerous shows with up to 70 or 80 hour work weeks sometimes while still being a full time student. After I graduated, I still worked at MTPS full time and was promoted to manage all the technicians and stagehands for multiple shows around campus. I've toured with a smaller band called 12 South. They do mostly wedding receptions, but other events include corporate shows and holiday parties. This is where I really began to get a touring experience with traveling and gigging. Most recently, I got employed with Clair Global, one of the largest touring audio companies. As their name states, they are a global company with offices and warehouses all over the world. This year I visited almost all 50 states with them along with many places in Canada too. Over all these years, I also have been a stagehand with Crew One, mostly Nashville, but they do also work in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Memphis. I have done numerous shows with them including Bon Jovi, The Eagles, Carrie Underwood, KISS, Michael Buble, Zac Brown Band, WWE, Kenny Chesney, Aerosmith, etc.

What's the coolest thing about your job?
I think the coolest part is that I get paid to travel the world working in an industry I enjoy. We get to see countless cites. We entertain about 10,000 people each concert, so this year I helped over half a million people see great musicians put on a phenomenal show.

Was there any advice or key learning during your time in the program that you still find applicable today? Any life lessons?
I guess to me the biggest advice I learned was just keep giving it your all. I wouldn’t have the job I have today if I hadn’t given it my all be it with the guitar 15 years ago, as a student in the RIM program, or as an MTPS employee. Also, attend any seminars, events, or gatherings that you possibly can. In this industry, it’s a lot about who you know. Ironically for me, I got this current position by attending the Touring Career Workshop at Soundcheck in Nashville. Now here I am touring the world with extraordinary world famous musicians all because of a great first impression. I went to numerous seminars on campus too, like the AES event one summer.

What advice would you have for students who are preparing to graduate soon?
Don’t expect to necessarily be at a console right away or a huge famous songwriter or big name businessmen immediately. It really takes tons of work and proving yourself in the industry while also respecting very established hardworking people who have already proven themselves in the industry. I think at first I wanted to be behind a console immediately with a major artist, but that is a whole new level of work. You have to really be ready for anything from some of these artists. That doesn’t mean give up or just accept your current position either. Continue working and thriving to prove yourself everyday.

What words of wisdom do you have for students coming into the program? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I don’t really feel like there’s anything I would’ve done differently while attending MTSU. Sure I wish I did a little bit better in a few classes, but while also being a full time employee on campus, I feel like I went above and beyond as a student. I strongly do suggest that if you are an audio engineer to work with Middle Tennessee Production Services. I learned so much there as a student and employee. It not only taught me about the audio engineering side of things, but it helped me hone in on talking with a customer and learning how to treat a corporate client vs. how to work with a full 12 piece band on stage. It also gave me a brotherhood of workers who did major shows together on big holidays. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career if it wasn’t for MTPS. And I know many other people working with big name artists who worked with MTPS as much as I did.

In which RIM class do you wish you had paid more attention? Why?
I think I wish I paid more attention in Audio Fundamentals and RIM 4200. Most of the things taught in both those classes were regurgitated many, many more times in other courses and off campus seminars. Also I think I felt like I was going into live audio, so those classes didn’t apply as much to live audio. But they really did, and I had to learn these fundamentals again. It really took me being in John Merchant’s Live Sound class to realize that. He tested us on it often, and that is when it struck me that I do actually need to be familiar with the physics of sound.

  

Spotlight on Lexi Cothran

Lexi Cothran

What is your hometown?
Franklin, TN

What year did you graduate and in what area of concentration were you?
December 2014, Music Business and Songwriting

Why did you choose the RIM program?
I fell in love with music at a very young age. When the time came to decide my career, there was no doubt I would end up in the music industry, in some capacity. After a ton of research on various schools, and a brief stint at another college, I decided MTSU would be perfect for me. I was right.

Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Not particularly. I started singing at the age of four and grew up saying I wanted to be an artist. Midway through high school is when I really started looking into the other various careers in the music industry, and it was just a no-brainer. I never had a doubt in my mind that a career in music was for me.

What was the first concert you attended?
Sammy Kershaw. I was four years old and completely in love with him. My dad thought it would be funny to tell me that I would get to sing with Sammy during the show. He also thought I would be too scared to ever do something like that. Dad was wrong, and I spent the entire concert crying because I couldn’t go on-stage. Last year, I finally met Sammy for the first time, and we laughed about that story.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
As far as newer artists go, I’m loving Carly Pearce, Mitchell Tenpenny, Danielle Bradbery, Luke Combs, and Ryan Hurd, just to name a few. I’ve also been hooked on Old Dominion, Kelsea Ballerini, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young and Dustin Lynch’s latest albums.

What is your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
I’m currently a country producer for Premiere Networks (iHeartMedia). My daily responsibilities revolve around running a DJ prep service called “True Country,” which reaches roughly 170 radio markets across the nation. I interview country artists and go to events (concerts, album releases, No.1 parties, etc), then I write about everything for my DJs to talk about on-air. They subscribe to my service and use my content to prepare for their on-air shifts. I’m basically a ghostwriter for DJs.

What career path did you take to end up in your current position?
I began as an intern at Premiere Networks when I was a senior in college (thanks to Professor Tammy Donham). Unfortunately, they didn’t have a position for me when I graduated, but during my time there, I had really focused on networking. That led me to my first position in the industry – Social Media Coordinator for iHeartMedia. I ran all social platforms for the six radio stations in Nashville for a year. When my former internship boss decided to leave Premiere Networks, she included me in her letter of resignation, and my now-editor contacted me to see if I was interested in taking over her position. And here we are – nearly two years later.

What's the coolest thing about your job?
The perks! I get to have conversations with some of the most iconic artists in country music, go to the coolest shows and be a part of celebrations that truly define artists’ careers. My favorite events to attend are No.1 parties for new artists. There’s nothing like seeing the excitement in the eyes of an artist when they’re handed their very first No.1 plaque. (Bus trips to Garth Brooks shows aren’t too shabby either!)

Was there any advice or key learning during your time in the program that you still find applicable today? Any life lessons?
One of the things I remember my professors always stressing was the importance of learning who’s who in the business, particularly if you’re planning on working in the country music world. It’s imperative that you know the movers and shakers of your industry. I continue to use this advice on a daily basis. Oh, and “be a good hang!”

What advice would you have for students who are preparing to graduate soon?
First off, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a job in the industry right out of college. It will take time, and I promise it’s worth the wait. If you don’t have a job lined up, get networking cards. This was the best thing I ever did for myself. I even had them when I was an intern. You never know who you’re going to meet. It looks so much more professional if you’re able to hand them a card with your information on it, instead of asking for a number.

What words of wisdom do you have for students coming into the program? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
First off, internships are key. Be open to trying out different parts of the industry. You never know what you’ll like most until you’re in it! Second, work hard, ask questions and get to know your professors. The reason I have my job today is because I made an impression on Professor Donham, and she helped me find an internship because of it. Your professors have more advice and knowledge than you can imagine, and they’re in that position because they enjoy sharing their knowledge. Get to know them!  Trust me, you will see them again or meet someone they know after graduation. I wish I had been more invested in my relationships with my professors earlier on in my college career.

  

Spotlight on John Lentz

John Lentz Alumni Spotlight

What is your hometown?
Tullahoma, TN

What year did you graduate and in what area of concentration were you?
1983 -- Music Business

Why did you choose the RIM program?
My love of the record industry and MTSU has a highly acclaimed program.

Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
April, 1977 when I received my first copy of Billboard as a subscriber. I was sixteen and the entire record industry was documented each week in that magazine. I knew then where I wanted to work in my career.

What was the first concert you attended?
Dexter Gordon and Maynard Ferguson at Vanderbilt. My first rock concert was Boston in 1977.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
Incognito, Miranda Lambert, Jack White, Snarky Puppy, and Kacey Musgraves.

What is your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
Senior Music Director at FirstCom/Universal Music. I find production music for clients in addition to search engine design, client demand research, and some music planning.

What career path did you take to end up in your current position?
Started on Music Row as country and gospel charts manager for Cash Box. I programmed music in several current and gold formats for Media General Broadcast Services in Memphis. Researched and produced weekly compact discs for over 2,800 radio stations worldwide in current and gold music formats for TM Century in Dallas. Senior Music Director at FirstCom/Universal Music in Dallas since 1999.

What's the coolest thing about your job?
Listening to an extremely wide variety of music every day. I never know what clients will ask for next. It is exciting to continually learn about the different types of music that our clients request.

Was there any advice or key learning during your time in the program that you still find applicable today? Any life lessons?
Just about everything Doc Hull said that I still remember serves me well to this day. Don Cusic also reminded me to be open to new music and new styles of music. Take full advantage of everything MTSU has to offer. Then do the same with an internship. Meet as many industry veterans as possible and volunteer to work with them as much as possible. In your twenties, there is plenty of time for this.

What advice would you have for students who are preparing to graduate soon?
Make as many connections as possible. Go to as many seminars, conventions, meetings, new release events, etc. as are available. Make the industry know who you are and what you can do. And do not be hesitant to find employment outside of Nashville, Los Angeles, or New York. Finally, enjoy this unusual industry...it is a lot of work but a lot more entertaining than making widgets.

What words of wisdom do you have for students coming into the program? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Learn some aspects of all parts of the industry to be well rounded in knowledge and more marketable to employers. Make lots of good connections and keep up with them. They just might help land a job later...they did for me. And know that MTSU is a widely recognized leader in music industry education so make the most of the opportunities available.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
A second degree in finance would have helped

In which RIM class do you wish you had paid more attention? Why?
Music Publishing. In today's industry, publishing has taken a new leading role in revenue for music companies. Knowing music publishing is knowing how to make any music business more profitable.

 

Spotlight on Wes Osborne

Wes Osborne featured on Alumni Spotlight

What is your hometown?
Ringgold, GA

What year did you graduate and in what area of concentration were you?
May 2015 – Music Business

Why did you choose the RIM program?
As far back as I could remember, the one interest I always had was music. I chose the RIM program because I couldn’t see myself studying anything else. I had so many interests in music I wanted to know it all. As I explored the program it was just that. It was extremely comprehensive across all parts of business but always relating it to the music business. It was the perfect fit for me. 

Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
As I look back, I believe it was when I started going to concerts and shows around the age of 13 or 14. My friends and I would go to this tiny little venue in a shopping center that probably held 200 or so. I could not get enough. I would ask the guy at the door if I could stamp hands and help fold merch. Of course, the answer was no because I was 13. Half the time I wouldn’t even care what band was on stage I was watching how it worked. Trying to figure out who was in charge, who was talking to the sound guy or who was walking backstage. I recall thinking ‘I want to be them.’ Back then I had no idea what I was observing or that it could someday lead to a career path. Five or six years later I realized it was possible so I had to go for it.

What was the first concert you attended?
2004 When The Sun Goes Down Tour – Kenny Chesney and openers were Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
Little Big Town, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Dustin Lynch, Taylor Swift, Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, and Chris Young.

What is your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
My current position is Creative Services Coordinator for Opry Entertainment Group (Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, 650 AM WSM, Ole Red Tishomingo & Nashville, and Opry City Stage – New York City). My main responsibility is to project manage all design work for Opry Entertainment Group including graphic design timelines, installations, print production, digital signage, and more.

What career path did you take to end up in your current position?
I started as an intern in Grand Ole Opry marketing because marketing ended up being my main interest as I was finishing school. Over the span of a year, I was able to develop and create my role on the Creative Services team.

What's the coolest thing about your job?
For me, the coolest part is working with iconic brands that are credited to be the jumping off point for country music and developing the city of Nashville into ‘Music City’.

Another very cool part for me is hearing super-star artists and public figures speak so highly of brands that I work for.

Was there any advice or key learning during your time in the program that you still find applicable today? Any life lessons?Make yourself irreplaceable. Make the business you are interning or working for think they cannot function without you.

What advice would you have for students who are preparing to graduate soon?
Work hard. No matter what you are doing. Hard work cannot be denied and it will get noticed & never, never, never pass up an opportunity whether it’s what you want to end up doing or not.

What words of wisdom do you have for students coming into the program? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Listen to your professors. They have incredible advice because they have been there. They have seen it all. Show them you are willing to work for this career path and they will help you the best they can. It worked out for me in the end but I wish I would have gotten more involved early in my time at MTSU. I wish I would’ve volunteered/interned more over the summers and made more contacts earlier. It’s never too early to put yourself out there and try to get some experience under your belt.

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