THE RISE of social media has changed country music, now artists’ Internet presence is just as important as their talent.
At Tamworth’s CMAA Academy, aspiring stars learn the ropes of the industry with established artists like 2019 Golden Guitar nominee Lyn Bowtell.
“Online presence is everything, it’s everything and nothing in a way because if you don’t have it you’re missing a massive market,” Bowtell said.
“But if you’re not doing it well you may as well not be doing it – it’s finding what works for you and what your demographic wants to hear from you.
It’s a different world, people want honesty and truth but they still want you to be a superstar.Lyn Bowtell
“It’s a different world, people want honesty and truth but they still want you to be a superstar.”
With country music artist Hayley Marsden teaching the ropes of social media, Bowtell can focus on songwriting with the students.
The two week intensive wraps up with performances at The Pub, Wests Tamworth and the opening of the 2019 Toyota Country Music Festival.
And this year the academy has reinstated the recording element of the program – so artists can leave with demo music to show potential producers.
Many of the students took part in the junior academy where the focus is entirely different Bowtell said.
“Junior academy is only a week and we have parents here, they get to take care of them when they have a tanty – I’m kidding,” she said.
“We like to train the parent as much as the student because being the parent of a young creative comes with some issues, there’s a lot of pitfalls and we try to help them get ready for that.
“If a contract comes across their desk [it means] they aren’t completely bewildered and have a team of people around them they can ask for advice.”
It’s an opportunity for rising stars to learn from the greats, break the rules and then find themselves.
Discovering what makes them unique and growing the confidence to show it is often the hardest part.
The jam-packed schedule is open to just 27 students this year, they learn everything from songwriting to tuition in technique and theory.
Co-writing is a big part of the experience, whether working with established artists or fellow musicians, the academy prides itself on teaching collaboration in country music.
By day five the students really start to spread their wings, Bowtell said.
“It’s that platform to be confident enough to go forward and keep the country music industry strong,” she said.
“We say every year that they’re a talented bunch, but this is one of the most special year we’ve had with a lovely range of styles – everything from bush balladeers to pop and roots country.”