Updated Feb 29, 2024 - Music

"Music census" wants to measure health of Nashville's industry

Illustration of an EKG line replacing the string of a guitar.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

There are two equally prevalent but opposing sides to Nashville's music industry in 2024.

The latest: Against that backdrop, a group of stakeholders wants to conduct a comprehensive survey of Nashville's music industry. The survey went live March 1.

  • It's intended to be a temperature check on what's going well, what's a struggle and what public policies can be advanced to lend a helping hand.

State of play: Over the last decade, corporate relocations and expansions have brought new jobs representing every sector of the music industry.

  • New concert venues, like Brooklyn Bowl and Ascend Amphitheater, contributed to a booming live music scene.
  • Countless elite artists are anchored in Music City, including the industry's queen Taylor Swift, rock band Paramore and country singer-songwriter Luke Combs. Top music companies like Live Nation, ASCAP and Universal have corporate headquarters here.

Yes, but: The skyrocketing cost of housing has made it hard for working-class musicians, especially those in the early phase of their careers, to live here.

Details: The Music Venue Alliance of Nashville, Belmont University, the Nashville musicians union AFM Local 257, the Broadway Entertainment Association and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee are collaborating on the survey.

  • These groups are partnering with the organization Sound Music Cities, which is conducting surveys in 16 cities.
  • It costs each city $22,500 to participate.
  • The coalition is hoping more groups join its ranks so it can spread the word about the survey to as many musicians, songwriters and business people as possible. It also intends to survey music nonprofits and music venue employees.

What they're saying: "Music is often described as the heartbeat of Nashville and serves as a vital attraction for economic development here," Belmont adjunct professor Eric Holt said in a press release.

  • "But the growth being fueled by our amazing music scene, is also causing so many within the industry to be left behind. Our hope is to give each and every one of them a voice in this census."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the survey has launched.


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