Oct 11, 2023 - Business

Survey: Nashville's creative class ponders leaving due to rising costs

Illustration of music notes in a moving truck.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Members of Nashville's creative community are increasingly thinking about leaving town as an affordability crisis grips the city.

Why it matters: Our music industry is at a crossroads, as artists and professionals struggle with housing, transportation, health care and access to creative spaces.

  • The Other Nashville Society, a professional networking and support organization for non-country artists and music business professionals, surveyed its 1,700 members recently as a temperature check on the state of the industry.

By the numbers: According to the survey, 40% of the respondents have considered moving from Nashville because of the costs associated with creating their art or running their business.

  • The survey asked the society's members to specify which additions to the city's music industry are "critically" or "somewhat" important. Responses paint a picture of Nashville's music infrastructure falling behind.
  • 85% said more small music venues are needed, 84% said rehearsal space and 77% said more recording studios.

Zoom out: Metro hired a consultant to study the health of its live music industry, and that research is ongoing.

  • Rising real estate costs and increasing corporate competition have pushed independently owned and operated venues to the brink.

Of note: The music industry seems to be a microcosm for the problems facing the city, with 77% saying more affordable housing is needed.

  • Affordable housing and mass transit emerged as two of the biggest issues facing the city during the recent Metro elections.

What he's saying: Josh Collum, a music licensing executive and co-founder of The Other Nashville Society, tells Axios he's heard musicians and music business professionals mention Chattanooga and Birmingham as more affordable alternatives.

  • Those cities can't compete with Nashville's deeply rooted ties to the music industry, Collum says. But, Collum adds, the city needs to recognize the pinch that its creative class is experiencing. Collum says creatives also mentioned mass transit and access to health care, including mental health care, as obstacles.

The big picture: Collum notes that the struggle with affordability comes on the heels of a booming decade for Nashville's music industry, which attracted businesses and creators from across the country, especially Los Angeles and New York.

  • The Other Nashville Society formed as a trade group in 2017 as the city's pop, rock and Christian music genres exploded.

The bottom line: "Other places don't have the music industry as ingrained in their culture as we do," Collum says. "But we still have to fight for it, for sure. Because there are going to be other people and other cities competing for our talent."

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