Michelle Tigard Kammerer—aka MTK—had her first introduction to nation music as a younger woman, listening to The Grand Ole Opry on the radio together with her grandfather.
“I discovered to sing the entire songs, and my grandpa and I might sing alongside collectively,” she mentioned. “I bear in mind he requested me as soon as if I wished to sing on the Grand Ole Opry just like the superstars we heard on the radio. I mentioned, ‘No, grandpa, I need to run the Opry.”
MTK, who’s now head of nation music at Amazon Music, clarified that she did not essentially imply she wished to work on the Opry—the world-famous nation music venue in Nashville, Tennessee—reasonably, she wished to be part of the nation music business.
“This music introduced me and my grandpa a lot pleasure, and I used to be captivated with sharing it with as many individuals as potential,” she mentioned.
Her love of all issues nation—and phrases from an early mentor to “observe the music”—have led MTK by way of the close-knit nation music business to her present function creating the nation style for Amazon Music. She is now chargeable for serving to hundreds of thousands of followers join with the music they love by way of enjoyable experiences like livestreams, award reveals, and merch campaigns.
“I knew what I wished from a really younger age, and I am so fortunate I get to stay out that dream right here at Amazon Music,” she mentioned.
We met with MTK to be taught extra about her profession and the way she received to the place she is right this moment. Hold studying to listen to about her profession highlights from her, her hilarious moments from her with nation icons, and the way she’s innovating at Amazon.
Assembly her heroes
After almost 20 years working at main expertise companies and report labels, we knew MTK would have some tales about assembly nation music’s greatest stars. What we didn’t count on was how a lot we’d snigger when she advised us the story of how she met considered one of her heroes.
“Reba McEntire is the most important of the massive for me. She’s from Oklahoma and I am from Kansas,” MTK defined, “So for me, she’s at all times represented that you can depart your small city and stay out your nation goals. I used to be so excited after I received the possibility to fulfill her early in my profession at Artistic Artists Company (CAA).”
McEntire was signed with CAA on the time, and the workforce had the possibility to fulfill her after a listening session.
“This was my second—this was the queen of nation music and I used to be lastly going to fulfill her,” she mentioned. “Reba was happening the road introducing herself to everybody, and I used to be getting an increasing number of nervous and excited as she received nearer to me. I used to be training what I used to be going to say in my head. Lastly, she will get to me and says, ‘Hello, I am Reba. Good to fulfill you.’ And I am going, ‘Hello, I am Stephanie. Wait, that is not my identify.’ And I regarded down on the floor, walked out of the room, received within the elevator, received in my automotive, and drove away, crying on the way in which house.”
Eight years handed earlier than MTK discovered the proper alternative to redeem herself. She’d been in the identical room as McEntire at many occasions for the reason that preliminary assembly, but it surely took a nudge from her boss de ella at Massive Machine Data to seek out the nerve to reintroduce herself.
“I used to be working within the press room on the Nation Music Awards when my boss walked in with a glance on his face that advised me he was as much as one thing,” she mentioned. “There had been rumors that Reba was going to be there, and the entire sudden I get a faucet on the shoulder and I flip round and Reba goes, ‘Hello, I am Reba. I hear you’ve got a narrative to inform me.’”
Luckily, McEntire discovered the state of affairs as hilarious as we did.
“She was rolling laughing and mentioned, ‘Effectively, let’s make this official. We could? Hello, I am Reba. Good to fulfill you.’ And I mentioned, ‘Hello, I am Michelle,’” MTK laughed. “She’s magical and fantastic and he or she smells like rainbows and sunshine. That is what I’ll say about Reba McEntire.”
Enjoying an element in nation music historical past
Within the years since, MTK has develop into accustomed to working alongside main artists, and her pleasure for serving to followers uncover new artists has solely grown stronger. Over the course of her profession, she’s performed an element in launching hit songs and creating massive acts, like Girl A and Florida Georgia Line.
“What’s so nice concerning the music neighborhood is many people are shut pals who work collectively and have precise relationships,” she mentioned. “I used to be a part of discovering and creating Girl A early on in my profession at CAA, and we have stayed shut as they took off—they have been even at my marriage ceremony.”
“I additionally had the dignity of peculiar Florida Georgia Line with a No. 1 plaque onstage at their sold-out live performance at Fenway Park. The track was ‘God, Your Momma, and Me’ with the Backstreet Boys they usually have been on tour collectively, so I had the chance to be part of the presentation. It is a present to share such particular moments with artists.”
Serving to artists obtain their goals is rewarding on their very own, and MTK mentioned it actually comes full circle when followers join with the music she’s labored on.
“Generally I am within the grocery store and I hear somebody singing alongside to a track that I labored on, and I really feel so proud,” she mentioned. “I am going again to that little woman who fell in love with nation music and feels so grateful to play even a small function in serving to followers join with the tales nation music has to inform.”
Innovating at Amazon Music
Since becoming a member of Amazon in 2021, MTK has led a proficient workforce on a mission to attach extra followers with the music and artists they love—they usually’re off to an unimaginable begin. Along with the pinnacle of nation programming Emily Cohen Belote, whom MTK calls “Golden Ears,” the Nation Warmth model on Amazon Music has reached greater than 5 billion streams with its “Nation Warmth” playlist and podcast over the past 12 months alone. The workforce has additionally boosted the service’s choices to prospects by embracing up-and-coming nation stars like Bailey Zimmerman and BRELAND, and artists on the cusp of superstardom like Lainey Wilson.
“Being the pinnacle of nation at Amazon Music is so particular, as a result of we get to have interaction artists and share their music on a worldwide scale,” MTK mentioned. “We get to inform artists’ tales and join with followers in new methods utilizing Amazon’s broad vary of providers.”
In her first 12 months with Amazon Music, MTK had the chance to work with groups throughout the corporate to assist produce the Academy of Nation Music (ACM) Awards present.
“Prime Video stepped as much as broadcast the ACM Awards this 12 months, and the nation music workforce supported as they labored to place all of it collectively in report time,” she mentioned. “The timing was tight, and it was unimaginable to see how many individuals throughout Amazon—from Trend to Prime Video, Music, and Twitch—got here collectively so shortly to maneuver a mountain. The truth that all the effort was pushed by a ardour for music made it much more superb. We additionally started working with the unimaginable Dolly Parton, who was a enormous plus.”
This was the primary totally streamed music awards present, and the streaming format made it simpler than ever for purchasers to observe the present from their gadgets. Her workforce of Ella has additionally developed livestreams by way of Prime Video, Twitch, and the Amazon Music app to present followers entry to traditionally unique occasions, like album launch events and intimate reveals.
“It is thrilling to have the ability to assist artists attain a considerably greater viewers after they’re launching new music, whereas additionally serving to hundreds of thousands of followers entry new experiences by way of streaming,” she mentioned.
It is quite a lot of work to develop a complete style for Amazon Music, however this stage of constructing one thing into its full potential is precisely the kind of problem that MTK loves. As she continues to construct on her storied profession within the nation music business, the sky is the restrict for what MTK and her workforce de ella will ship for Amazon Music prospects subsequent.
“Little Michelle can be so proud if she may see how far we have come,” she mentioned. “I used to observe reveals just like the ACMs on TV and take heed to my favourite artists on the radio, and now I work on my dream job making it simpler than ever for followers to fall in love with nation music.”