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Music City Mentors

March 23, 2019 @ 8:30 am - 5:00 pm


Music City Mentors

Open to aspiring music professionals ages 15 and older!

Make plans to join WSM for our inaugural Music City Mentors event on Saturday, March 23 at The Factory at Franklin in Tennessee (just south of Nashville).


Pairing top entertainment professionals with individuals who dream of a career in the music industry, Music City Mentors will provide instructional panel discussions and professional development opportunities to aspiring music professionals ages 15 and over. No matter your area of interest in the music industry, we’re sure to have something for everyone!

SVP Artist Relations and Grand Ole Opry GM, Sally Williams, will give the keynote address. Just recently, we announced that prolific Nashville hitmaker Jerrod Niemann will take part in a special Music City Mentors afternoon session entitled My Story where he will share stories, memories, and advice from his career path.

The event will feature 45-minute panel-led sessions focusing on tips for landing a record deal, songwriting, publishing, artist management, tour life, working behind-the-scenes, marketing, money management, music distribution, performance, publicity, and everything in between. During the lunch break, our partners at Durango Boots and Tribe Kelley will present a one-of-a-kind fashion show for all attendees.

Attendees will conclude the day of unique professional development with “speed networking” opportunities from best-in-the-business professionals.


General Admission tickets for the event are on-sale now for $40. Special STUDENT tickets are available for only $30 (must show student ID upon arrival).

Lunch tickets will be available for purchase when registering for your sessions.

Note: You may register for more than one session throughout the day. However, please register for only one session per time period listed.


Attendees should plan to dress in business casual attire.

Parking is provided at The Factory at Franklin, but we suggest arriving early, as close parking will be limited.

Event open to ages 15 years and older.

Onsite check-in will begin at 8:00 AM|CT.


7:30am – 8:15am: Check In & Networking

8:30am – 9am: Keynote Presentation – Sally Williams

12:15pm – 12:30pm: Lunch Time Fashion Show

12:30pm – 1pm: Lunch Time Artist Performance

Panel Times, Titles, and Descriptions:

9:15am-10am (choose ONE only) *
The Evolution of Radio to Digital with Tips from the Record Labels – LIBERTY HALL
Behind-the-Scenes of the Tour Life: A mix of advice from personal assistants, road managers, nutritionists and fashion stylists – HERITAGE ROOM
10:15-11am (choose ONE only) *
Everything You Need to Know about Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show – LIBERTY HALL
What Goes Into Being a Manager, Agent, Publicist, Social Media Manager or Graphic Designer – HERITAGE ROOM
11:15am-12pm *
Speed Networking with Music Industry Professionals – LIBERTY HALL
1:15pm-2pm (choose ONE only) *
Making Music a Business and the Value of Earning a Degree – LIBERTY HALL
The Importance of Polishing Your Chops & Talent (Live Vocals, Recorded Vocals, Background Singing, Recording Demos, Playing Covers, and Session Musicians) – HERITAGE ROOM
2:15pm-3pm (choose ONE only) *
Behind-the-Glass: Advice from Recording Engineers, Producers, Live Production and Lighting – LIBERTY HALL
Building a Brand – HERITAGE ROOM
3:15pm-4pm (choose ONE only) *
My Story – (Hear from Jerrod Niemann as he shares the stories that got him to where he is today. Attendees will get advice on how to navigate a career in the music industry.) – LIBERTY HALL
Go Behind-the-Scenes at the Dark Horse Studio at the Factory – S1 (3 pm – 5 pm)
4:15pm-5pm *
Go Behind-the-Scenes at the Dark Horse Studio at the Factory – S2 (3 pm – 5 pm)


Special thanks to our event sponsors: Durango Boots, Zaxby’s, Beacon Capital Management, Les Paul Foundation, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, Lyft, Silent Events, Songwriting University, Green Iris/Still Working Music, Advance Financial, Tribe Kelly, ASCAP, Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, Dark Horse Institute, Amigos Guitar Show, and Sir Speedy of Berry Hill!


President/CEO of Adkins Publicity, a full-service PR firm representing artists and brands across entertainment fields. Adkins has worked with entertainment titans, including Dolly Parton, Katy Perry, Kid Rock, and Kenny Rogers.

Scott Adkins

Panelist – Being a Manager, Agent, Publicist, Social Media Manager, or Graphic Designer

Erin is the Founder and CEO of Olivia Management. As a manager, she led the Secret Sisters to a Grammy nom in 2018. She also teaches at Belmont University and recently launched Educate by Olivia Management.

Erin Anderson

Panelist – Making Music a Business and the Value of Earning a Degree

Kari serves as Regions Bank an Entertainment Relationship Manager/Industry Specialist. She is involved in industry organizations SOURCE, Copyright Society of the South, the Troubadour Society, and Grammy Next.

Kari Barnhart

Panelist – Growing a Brand

Beth serves as ASCAP’s Associate Creative Director where she maintains relationships with high-profile songwriters and artists, while continuing to develop new talent. Beth also coordinate ASCAP’s involvement in Pilgrimage, CMA Fest, and more.

Beth Brinker

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

After development deals with Dreamworks and RCA records, Sam teamed up with Ruby Amanfu to form the duo “Sam & Ruby”. He used the momentum and success of “Sam & Ruby” to launch a music publishing company called Artist Revolution.

Sam Brooker

Panelist – Making Music a Business and the Value of Earning a Degree

John served as head of Christian music at Spotify where he oversaw the programming of the genre worldwide. He previously served as VP of Promotion for Curb Records for 16 years. He began his career in NY in promotion and marketing at labels.

John Butler

Panelist – Evolution of Radio to Digital with Tips from the Record Labels

After working in country radio for over 10 years at the Jersey Shore, Lexi moved to Nashville to enjoy all of the things that this great city has to offer and join the WSM team. You can hear Lexi on WSM weekday afternoons from 3-6pm/ct.

Lexi Carter

Moderator – My Story

Bill’s voice has been heard over the air waves for 45 years. Bill is a member of the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame and in his 25th year as morning show host of WSM’s “Coffee, Country & Cody” and is a Grand Ole Opry announcer/host.

Bill Cody

Moderator – Evolution of Radio to Digital with Tips from the Record Labels

Alongside styling for album covers, red carpets, live performances, and creating custom pieces for her clients, Payton is also the best selling author of the book “Hang Up Your Hang Ups: A Radical Guide to Healing Yourself Through Personal Style.”

Payton Dale

Panelist – Behind the Scenes of Tour Life

Jaida Dreyer wrote nine acclaimed tunes for the hit television series ‘Nashville’. Jaida celebrated a multi-week number one writing Luke Bryan’s, “Home Alone Tonight” featuring Little Big Town’s, Karen Fairchild. 

Jaida Dreyer

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Steve is a 30+ year veteran of the music business in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. As a tour manager, Steve worked with LeAnn Rimes, Ryan Adams, Jewel and others before becoming a partner at the management firm The Fitzgerald-Hartley Co.

Steve Emley

Panelist – Being a Manager, Agent, Publicist, Social Media Manager, or Graphic Designer

Michael Fogarty serves as a Senior Account Manager at Crowd Surf, a digital marketing, publicity and management firm, where he has developed and executed creative and innovative global marketing promotions for an extensive client roster.

Michael Fogarty

Panelist – Building A Brand

Holly Gleason is an author and artist development consultant. She has done work with Kenny Chesney, Lee Ann Womack, Brooks & Dunn, among many. She also published Woman Walk The Line: How The Women of Country Music Changed Our Lives.

Holly Gleason

Panelist – Behind the Scenes of Tour Life

Teea Goans is helping to preserve the Traditional Country sound that is part of our American heritage as a regular cast member on RFD-TV’s “Country’s Family Reunion”, numerous appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and “Larry’s Country Diner”.

Teea Goans

Moderator – Polishing Your Chops for Live Vocals, Recorded Vocals, and Background Vocals

Rachel is an entertainment and music industry attorney with Stephanie Taylor Law, PLLC. She is an experienced litigator, who has represented artists, musicians, producers, record labels, managers, and entertainment entrepreneurs.

Rachel Guttmann

Panelist – Making Music a Business and the Value of Earning a Degree

Dave is the lead engineer at Dark Horse Recording. He has recorded dozens of bands on Sony, Capitol, Gotee, and Tooth and Nail including Ashley Judd, OneRepublic, Relient K, Matthew West, Jeremy Camp and For King and Country.

Dave Hagen

Panelist – Behind the Glass: Advice from Recording Engineers, Producers, Live Production and Lighting

Dan Hays is the Executive Director of the Franklin Theatre. a historic venue which reopened in 2011 after an $8.5 million renovation. Dan was also the Executive Director of the International Bluegrass Music Association for 22 years.

Dan Hays

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Beverly Keel is a professor and chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, a music industry consultant and an award-winning music journalist whose work has appeared in People, Parade, The Tennessean, and other publications.

Beverly Keel

Moderator – Making Music a Business and the Value of Earning a Degree

Chris Lisle has worked in roles including Production
Designer, Lighting Designer, Production Manager, and Show Producer. Some of Chris’ clients include: Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, One Republic, Sugarland, Keith Urban and more.

Chris Lisle

Panelist – Behind-the-Scenes of the Tour Life

Katrina serves as Director of Digital Marketing for Opry Entertainment, the media and entertainment division of Ryman Hospitality Properties which includes the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, 650 AM WSM and Ole Red brands.

Katrina Maddox

Panelist – Being a Manager, Agent, Publicist, Social Media Manager, or Graphic Designer

Jacquelyn has worked alongside the AMA, Bruce Springsteen, Alan Jackson, Provident Music Group, Sony Pictures’ Provident Films and The Academy Awards. She launched Marushka Media in 2016 and currently helms the thriving agency.

Jackie Marushka

Panelist – Being a Manager, Agent, Publicist, Social Media Manager or Graphic Designer

Autumn McEntire has been writing songs professionally for over 15 years. Country artists across the genre have recorded her music including Reba McEntire, Ashley McBryde, Danielle Peck, Warner Brother’s artist Walker County.

Autumn McEntire

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Raised in North Carolina, Emily is a songwriter with Green Hills Music Group. Emily has planted her roots as an entertainer including finding herself on stage opening for Lee Brice, Dustin Lynch, Cole Swindell, Maddie & Tae, Scotty McCreery and more.

Emily Minor

Fashion Show Model

Chancie signed her first major publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and shortly after, landed her first major cut on the “Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas” album called “Hairy Christmas” featuring Luke Bryan.

Chancie Neal

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Jamie brings decades of entertainment business experience to Dark Horse Institute, having formerly served as Owner and President of Common Grounds Entertainment, and VP of Strategic Partnerships at Black Fuel Music/220 Entertainment.

Jamie Nehasil

Panelist – Behind the Glass: Advice from Recording Engineers, Producers, Live Production and Lighting

Jerrod first burst onto the scene in 2010 with his #1 smash “Lover, Lover”. From ACM and CMA Award noms, to touring with some of Country’s hottest acts, Jerrod continues to make his mark by pushing boundaries while nodding to the legends before him.

Jerrod Niemann

Songwriter/Artist – “My Story” Panel

Kathy launched Atticus Brand Partners after 20 years in the music industry as the first music agent to specialize in Brand Partnerships at WME. Previously, she served as Bridgestone Arena’s Director of Marketing and Sponsorships.

Kathy Armistead Olen

Panelist – Building a Brand

Devon O’Day’s broadcast career includes WSM, Mix92.9 Nashville, and more. As a songwriter she has had songs recorded by Lee Ann Womack, Hank Williams, Jr, Pam Tillis, Neal McCoy, Trace Adkins, and a #1 for George Strait called “The Big One”.

Devon O’Day

Moderator – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Corinne Pavlicko is the CEO and Founder of &ME. She combined her love of music, marketing, & tech to create a virtual meet & greet platform for artists and fans. She was previously the Marketing Director at a software development agency.

Corrinne Pavlicko

Panelist – Making Music a Business and the Value of Earning a Degree 

Jordan serves as Director of Artist Relations & Programming Strategy for Opry Entertainment Group which owns & operates the most famous performing venues in Country Music (the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium) and other various properties.

Jordan Pettit

Moderator – Evolution of Radio to Digital with Tips from the Record Labels 

Dennis has created hits in Pop, Rock, Country, Gospel, Blues and Bluegrass as well as commercial music for radio, network television and movies. A small sampling of his credits include Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, and Charlie Daniels.

Dennis Ritchie

Panelist – Behind the Glass: Advice from Recording Engineers, Producers, Live Production and Lighting

Judy Rodman is an award winning vocal coach based in Nashville, Tennessee.  She developed her voice-maxing/voice-protecting training method ‘Power, Path & Performance’ and created several courses in it, including ‘Singing in the Studio’.

Judy Rodman

Panelist – Polishing Your Chops for Live Vocals, Recorded Vocals, and Background Vocals

For the past 8 years, Ben opened for artists such as Hunter Hayes, Jerrod Niemann, Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Jon Pardi, The Band Perry, Craig Morgan, Dustin Lynch, among many others. He is also the spokesperson for Accu-Guide Guide.

Ben Rue

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Brian Smith owns Leadership Artists LLC, a full service artist management and consulting company. He manages the business and creative affairs of artists and to maximize their reach, talents and revenue streams.

Brian Smith

Panelist – Behind the Scenes of Tour Life

Shane Tarleton currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Artist Development at Warner Music Nashville. Tarleton oversees marketing, brand sponsorship, digital interactive and creative services for the complete roster of artists.

Shane Tarleton

Panelist – Building A Brand

Marcus serves as the booking manager for the 6 Puckett’s Grocery locations throughout Tennessee where he books #1 hit songwriters and local  rising artists. Whybrew has also joined some of the top acts in country music today on stage.

Marcus Whybrew

Panelist – Songwriting, Performing and Booking a Show

Sally Williams leads a team responsible for all artist relations, programming, booking, and show production across Ryman Hospitality Properties’ portfolio of entertainment assets including the Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium, Ole Red.

Sally Williams

Keynote Speaker

Tom is President of the Dark Horse Institute. As a musician, he toured and recorded during the ‘60s and ‘70s, served as a booking agent and manager in Nashville, and worked as an A&R executive and marketing VP at major labels.

Tom Willett

Moderator – Behind the Glass: Advice from Recording Engineers, Producers, Live Production and Lighting

Jules Wortman serves as President of Wortman Works Media & Marketing. Wortman is a public relations and marketing strategist who has developed many national campaigns for record labels, brands, music, special events, and more.

Jules Wortman

Moderator – Building a Brand


March 23, 2019
8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


650 AM WSM


The Factory at Franklin
230 Franklin Road
Franklin, TN 37064 United States
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