On A High Note

Music City Council helps enhance our Music City reputation — and our economy

Ryman Auditorium

Leigh Greenwood is filling in for Jessi Maness with this blog entry. We all pitch in and help out in the Sports and Entertainment Nashville family. Everybody does a little bit of everything around here. Jessi is a busy beaver these days, wearing many hats around here. Quite simply, I am the lucky duck to get to pinch hit for her.

Ryman Auditorium

Ryman Auditorium

Nashville has long been referred to as “Music City USA,” known far and wide for our influence over country music’s roots and our hub as a music epicenter. As a matter of fact, this phrase to describe Nashville was coined in 1950 by David Cobb, one of WSM’s on-air announcers. While ad-libbing on air, he described our fair city with a name that certainly has stuck! This name has become so synonymous with Nashville that I’d venture to guess it’s just as identifiable to Nashville as “The Big Apple” is to New York City!

This moniker has not only come to describe Nashville’s country music influence, but it has also come to represent our influence over music far and wide! Nashville has long been a center of gospel, Contemporary Christian, and even rock-n-roll music. Even the famed Elvis Presley would travel to Nashville to record – just one of many legendary performers to grace our fair city with their presence.

Even today, our musical influence can be felt in many varied genres in the world of the arts. You have to look only as far as the many films, music videos, radio performances, and live entertainment that have been created in this city to realize that Nashville’s impact upon the arts as a whole is quietly shaping our nation’s artistic community.

Our wise political leaders have not let that fact go unnoticed. In true Southern fashion, we are wringing every bit of use out of our reputation as a premiere destination for all things musical.

In fact, did you know that we have an association of industry leaders that has been formed for the sole purpose of broadcasting Nashville to the world? The Music City Music Council was formed in 2009 under Mayor Karl Dean’s guidance, bringing together the top industry leaders to help develop a plan to advertise Nashville and “heighten awareness and development of Nashville as THE global Music City.”

This is touted as the very first effort in Nashville’s history to bring together leaders from all musical walks of life to spearhead a plan to both advertise Nashville’s reputation and deepen its impact here at home. This organization goes far beyond the mere task of bringing together a few industry heads for board meetings. This commission has been tasked with the gargantuan task of “growing and diversifying Nashville’s world-wide reputation as Music City.” It has done and admirable job in the few years since its inception.

Much of the work has gone on quietly behind the scenes, assisting with projects to develop affordable housing for musicians and songwriters and working with live music venues and law-enforcement agencies over codes and safety requirements. Why, even public schools are benefiting by the remarkable plan of this Council to develop a peerless music education program for our schoolchildren. Even our youngest citizens will benefit from our history as “Music City USA!”

The Music City Music Council promises to bring even more exposure to Nashville, which brings undeniable pride to our town but also translates into real dollars and cents! For behind every hit song that comes out of Nashville, there are countless people and industries behind that song that keep our communities thriving.

Everyone knows that every song has a writer. Songs don’t write themselves, after all! But don’t forget that from its first inception, this one little song needs a demo singer, a recording engineer, studio musicians, artist’s representation, artist management, and musical legal representation. We also cannot forget that this little song, if it’s lucky, will have a famous or soon-to-be-famous crooner performing it in live venues across the country.

Roberts Western World

Roberts Western World

That means that this one little song will also need tour bus drivers, professional stylists, makeup artists, stagehands, electricians, sound engineers, and even foodservice folks. This one little song brings jobs to people across our area in countless ways. Why, don’t forget that this one little song’s creator had to learn how to write songs in the first place! College professors and entire Music Business educational programs are yet another industry that has benefited from our role as a music industry leader.

When this one little song is performed, think of all the parking garages and restaurants and hotels and taxi services and shopping destinations and small towns that are visited as a tourist destination. Why, a perfect example of an industry that has grown up around the music business is the business of tour buses. There are companies that own tour buses and sell tour buses, rent out tour buses and drive tour buses, and service tour buses and maintain tour buses. A veritable plethora of jobs and businesses have grown up around just this one piece of the “music business” pie.

One example of how Nashville’s role as “Music City USA” impacts us all is perfectly highlighted with the Hemphill Brothers Coach Company. This family-owned and -operated business has had roots in the tour bus industry for almost 40 years. Its impressive list of customers reads like a “Who’s Who” list of famous performers! I’m sure they would agree that if it weren’t for the music business in this town, this company would be hard pressed to exist.

And like most musically-based businesses around town, there is always a musical “claim to fame.” If the name “Hemphill” sounded familiar, you’re not alone! The Hemphill Family is one of the most beloved of all gospel music families, famous for such gospel tunes as “Consider the Lilies.” It is this same gospel music family that has today become leaders in the tour bus industry, beginning when the family patriarch Joel Hemphill, Sr., first began in the tour bus industry in 1974.

The interwoven relationship of Nashville’s role as a musical industry leader helps support this business, which in turn supports communities around town by the salaries they pay, the additional industries they support, and the taxes they contribute to the city. Nashville needs our music business.

Our music business needs Nashville. And its citizens need both! There isn’t one place in the world that offers what Nashville does – a top-notch musical industry, thriving communities that support this industry, and the hometown feel that is still alive and well in our town.

That is the message that the Music City Music Council is trying to send to the nation. Nashville is the premiere destination – not just to merely visit, but also to live and grow your musically-based business. What a great message!