Taking the reins from founder Andrew Cohen, Amelia Varni is helping thousands of Nashville newcomers fulfill their dreams as executive director of YEP Nashville.
Nashville since 2010
Like most great ideas amongst millennials, YEP, or Young Entertainment Professionals, Nashville was created over drinks in a bar. In 2011, founder Andrew Cohen was out of work, desperate to find the right job in the entertainment industry. Over drinks with a fellow Belmont grad at the legendary Tin Roof bar on Demonbreun St., he crafted the beginnings of what would become the most influential networking group for young professionals in the Music City. “(YEP) was a result of me and a bunch of friends all being fresh out of school, knowing we needed to meet more people but not knowing where to start,” said Cohen.
Meanwhile, Amelia Varni had been experiencing a steady rise in the music industry since she arrived in Nashville. She grew up on a farm in Northern California and found her way to the Music City after graduating from high school in 2010. On her first day at Belmont University, she landed an intern position on Music Row at Nashville To You management company. She gained further industry experience working as an assistant to fashion stylist Katy Robbins, as an A&R intern at Warner Music Nashville, and as Executive Assistant at Universal Music Publishing.
A self-described ‘bubbly & energetic’ young lady, Varni is quick to credit YEP for the confidence she’s gained at the beginning of her career. “YEP was my way of making something of myself,” she said. “When I graduated, I wanted to meet people outside of Belmont and that were my age.” She said she began going to YEP mixers in 2014 and quickly became involved with the leaders of the group, booking events & writer’s rounds, as well as assisting with marketing.
For Andrew Cohen, now 28 years old and having started his own music management company, the time had come in 2016 to hand over the reins. Amelia was selected to take over as Executive Director of YEP. She’d proven herself to be a valuable leader, helping grow the group’s Facebook page membership to 12,000+ in 2014 (Today, it’s nearly 24,000.).
Since taking over, Varni has put her fingerprints on YEP in many ways, perhaps most notably with YEP Rewind, a concept she created with 2016 ACM Session Guitarist of the year Derek Wells. Hosted at The Basement East in East Nashville, Rewind is a themed-throwback show where upwards of 20 musicians take the stage to perform one cover song of their choice. Varni says that YEP put on three Rewinds last year, with the 90’s Pop-themed show headlined by Maren Morris being the most popular. “Her and Ryan (Hurd) did ‘Pony’, said Varni. It was awesome!” They have plans to put on at least 5 more in 2018.
Today, Varni is a creative director at Starstruck Entertainment by day while also continuing as the leader of YEP. “It’s like a second job,” she says of her role with the non-profit organization, “but I love it.” As thousands of young people move to Nashvile each month chasing their dreams, YEP usually is the first place they go to try to land a job. With guest speakers and performers such as Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, and even Garth Brooks, YEP Nashville has morphed from a great idea in a bar into the premier spot to meet & greet young professionals in the Nashville music industry.
ABOUT YEP NASHVILLE
MISSION STATEMENT: The Young Entertainment Professionals network creates a platform for the entertainment industry to thrive in a supportive and creative environment for the betterment of its members as well as the industry as a whole through networking events, showcases, mentorship and educational development.
Follow them @yepnashville
Brittany Hodak, Forbes.com, 7/26/2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brittanyhodak/2016/07/26/nashville-social-group-takes-millennial-approach-to-launching-music-industry-careers/#43c12ad35e07