The 2016 CMT Music Awards was the most watched show in the event’s history, with nearly 4 million viewers tuning in across three networks on Wednesday, June 8. Paramount employee Shannon Griffith, however, wasn’t one of those viewers—she lived the event. As the winner of Viacom’s CMT Awards Employee Lottery, she got to watch country music’s party of the year from the VIP balcony in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
From its mod, jewel-toned stage to performances featuring a fusion of country legends, rock, and pop stars, the 2016 CMT Awards energized a classic genre with radical twists. The night celebrated country music’s rich history while showcasing its eclectic, contemporary fan base.
Here are some highlights from CMT’s wildest party of the year.
Courtney Cole first debuted on the country-pop scene in 2011 as a contestant on CMT’s Next Superstar. After the last episode aired, she inked a deal as a songwriter. She’s since put out two EPs, toured with Miranda Lambert, and attracted thousands of fans with feisty tracks like “Ladylike”, and soulful ballads like “Fall Like Rain.” Critics have compared her to a younger Taylor Swift.
But if Cole hadn’t gone to Belmont University, she says she’d probably be working an odd job in her rural hometown of Mandeville, Louisiana. Education is an integral part of her burgeoning career. That’s why she is CMT Empowering Education’s spokesperson for 2016.
The world lost a good one earlier this week, when country music legend Merle Haggard passed away on his 79th birthday. With 71 top 10 country hits, two autobiographies, a spate of movie appearances, and one single – 1968’s Today I Started Loving You Again – that has been covered by more than 400 artists, he left behind a decades-long legacy whose impact on music and culture would be hard to overstate.
CMT took notice. The day news of Haggard’s passing at his California ranch broke, the network aired CMT Remembers Merle Haggard, a special featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews, along with tributes from some of the biggest names in country music, including Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Florida Georgia Line, Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, Dwight Yoakam, Brooks & Dunn and Bobby Bare.
Being an intern at CMT has amazing perks – we get to work on huge events, see celebs around the office, and create content for one of the top channels in the country (Party Down South anyone?). However, the best perk is the opportunity to truly make a difference in our community.
Viacom encourages employees to pursue their passions, and interns are treated no differently. We (the CMT Nashville fall 2015 intern group) were determined to figure out a way to raise awareness for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts: Feeding America.
We had three goals that we wanted to accomplish with our project:
1. Increase Feeding America donations nationwide
3. Set precedent to encourage future interns to launch their own Viacommunity campaigns.
Making It Happen
With 10 interns across multiple departments, we utilized everyone’s skills to create a multi-faceted campaign that we called #12DaysOfGiving.
With the support of our co-workers and supervisors, we worked with Public Affairs to create a holiday sweepstakes raising awareness of CMT One Country and Feeding America. To enter, participants simply posted a photo of how they’re giving back to Feeding America on social media with the hashtag #12DaysOfGiving. We promoted the campaign through verbal and graphic mentions on the Hot 20 Countdown, social pushes across numerous CMT handles, custom co-brands, talent interaction, and even an article on CMT.com.
To drive entries, we rounded up some insane prizes, including tickets to the 2016 CMT Music Awards in Nashville, generous donations from Public Affairs to local Feeding America food banks, a signed guitar from the 2015 Artists of the Year celebration, a shout-out by CMT legend Cody Alan, and signed CMT merchandise.
From left to right above: Luke Bryan, singer and songwriter Sam Hunt, and a signed guitar from CMT’s Artists of the Year celebration.
What We Learned
#12DaysOfGiving was Nashville’s largest intern project to date, and it made an impact both internally (with 52 pounds of food collected at CMT) and nationally. The campaign was a huge learning experience, and we can’t believe that we actually pulled it off (with lots of help of course).
Some of the lessons we learned:
· Never believe that you cannot accomplish something because you’re “just an intern.”
· If you have an idea you want to accomplish, ask. Most co-workers and supervisors are eager to help.
· Campaigns are created by the hard work and collaboration of multiple departments. Start planning early to ensure that you can access everything you need.
· Create a backup plan for every situation. When faced with “no,” always say “what if we do ___ happens instead?”
· Make sure to thank everyone who has helped you. Everyone is busy, and it is generous of them to lend you their time.
Keeping our lessons in mind, we never could have pulled this campaign off alone. We worked with virtually every department at CMT to accomplish our goals, and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful mentors and supportive co-workers. Thank you to everyone who has worked on this project, especially Public Affairs, Radio, Legal, Social Media, and CMT.com.
The next time you find yourself thinking that you’re “just an intern,” think instead about how you can leverage your talents to create lasting results for a project you’re passionate about. After all, seeing celebrities gets old quickly, but your memories of making a difference never will.
Earlier this year, CMT helped put on quite an awards show in Nashville. Attendees walked a pre-event red carpet. Hosts guided the audience from one award presentation to the next. Winners delivered gushing acceptance speeches.
When you take a legendary rock icon and a country superstar who’s at the height of his career, add in a stage, lights and two of the best bands around, musical magic is made. Last month at The Factory in Franklin, Tenn., Bob Seger and Jason Aldean united for the first time on the CMT CROSSROADS stage for an end-of-the-year event that neither could turn down. Read More