Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Feb 18th 2011 at 11:00am UTC

Grammys’ Big (City) Winner

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The big winners in Sunday night’s Grammy Awards took many by surprise. Arcade Fire took home the record of the year for “The Suburbs” and the country group Lady Antebellum’s song “Need You Now” won awards for best record and best song of the year. The former is from Montreal, the latter hail from Nashville.  The internet and social media exploded with a raft of incredulous messages – - a Tumblr called “Who is Arcade Fire?” compiled dozens of them.  The Today show’s Matt Lauer blurted: “I’ve never heard of the Arcade Fire. I’m going to have to download them.”

Could these wins reflect something of a broader trend?  Is the landscape of popular music changing? Could it be that new upstart music scenes in Nashville, Montreal, and elsewhere are gaining ground on New York and LA, the long-established hegemonic centers of commercial and recorded music?


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jul 7th 2009 at 10:45am UTC

The Nashville Effect, cont’d

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Nashville may be the center of the recorded music industry and, while it has attracted scads of musicians over the past several decades, it remains a narrower kind of music scene compared with say Brooklyn, according to analysis by my U of T colleague Dan Silver. In an earlier post, I explored Jack White’s move from Detroit to the Music City. Silver picks up on the Punch Brothers‘ Nashville-to-Brooklyn relocation, making an important distinction between music industry dynamics and music scenes.

This is not about comparing New York and Nashville in particular. My point is more general: we need to think not only about music industries, but also about music scenes as a factor in attracting musicians to cities and sustaining their creativity once they’re in place.

Punch Brothers leader Chris Thile was a bluegrass prodigy in the “progressive bluegrass” trio Nickel Creek. Based in Nashville, the platinum-selling group was famous for mixing bluegrass with diverse genres and covering songs by non-bluegrass artists like Pavement, Elliott Smith, and the Jackson 5. But after Nickel Creek came to an end in 2007, his new act Punch Brothers chose to make its home in Brooklyn.

While Nashville is full of industry opportunities and plays host to a dynamic live scene, it tends to value expertly played country and pop-rock sounds over more unconventional musical risk-taking. In NYC, Thile feels at home incorporating prog rock, chamber music, and klezmer into the Punch Brothers’ more adventurous sound.

Silver, who plays a key role in our MPI Music and Entertainment Economy Project, explains why Nashville, despite its widespread opportunities, is not always the best home for musical omnivores like Thile:

There is likely a symbiotic relationship between recording industry infrastructure and music scenes, as scene members work session gigs by day and clubs by night. And yet, on the other hand, there may be a negative influence whereby heavy industry concentration creates an over-professionalized environment that is not open to some kinds of musical innovation. The grunge sound of ’90s Seattle and Olympia grew up where there were few recording studios, and the scene made a virtue out of the unprofessional sound that emerged.

Check out Silver’s analysis here – an analysis with which, interestingly enough, the alt weekly Nashville Scene appears to generally agree.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri May 29th 2009 at 10:45am UTC

The Nashville Effect, Ctd.

Friday, May 29th, 2009

My colleague Dan Silver crunches the numbers and finds that while Nashville may be at the top of the commercial music pyramid, it lags on genre diversity.

Nashville takes fifth place in terms of popularity of its acts, according to Silver’s analysis of MySpace fans, behind L.A., Manhattan, Chicago, and Atlanta, and just ahead of Brooklyn. It falls to 25th in terms of total (MySpace) acts behind Portland, Austin, and Miami, not to mention leaders like L.A., Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago.

Nashville also lags in the diversity of its music mix, according to Silver. Not surprisingly, it’s way out in front on country with 1,800 (MySpace) bands with five times as many as second-place San Antonio. Nashville also makes the top 20 for Christian music, acoustic, pop, rock, folk, jazz, and indie.

Silver provides further evidence of what he dubs Nashville’s “intensive rather than extensive” music profile by ranking Nashville alongside L.A., NY, Chicago, Atlanta, and comparably sized Portland on MySpace’s “bands with fans” metric (see table below).

Nashville is the national leader in Country and Christian music, and has bands with the top 10 most fans in folk, acoustic, acapella, pop, rock, punk, jazz, and alternative. This is very impressive indeed; Nashville is for sure a hit maker. But, once again, note the steep drop off. The other top 5 “bands with fans” cities – NY, L.A., Chicago, ATL — have high fan rankings across all the genres, with averages of 3, 7, 6, and 18. Nashville plunges to 40. Portland, by contrast, which ranks #19 overall on this metric (14 lower than Nashville), has an average fan rank across genres that is 14 higher than Nashville’s.

So yes, Nashville is more than country music. But, ranked in terms of the sheer cosmopolitan multiplicity of the genres its bands produce and circulate, Nashville is not quite New York City. Or, for that matter, Portland.

Still, Nashville’s music scene remains highly focused on the best-selling and most commercial of genres - pop (fourth), rock (sixth), and punk (sixth) as well as country (first), Christian (first) and folk (second) – compare to its 33rd place finish in Afrobeat and 151st place in death metal – as Silver’s data show.

genre rankings.jpg
Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri May 29th 2009 at 8:50am UTC

More Nashville Effect

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Boy, Ta-Nehisi’s commenters surely do rock.


I was just in Nashville and it felt like Hollywood or NYC, where people get off the bus to make their artistic fortune. Also, a friend of mine who LOVES karaoke was annoyed to find the quality of karaoke talent much higher in Nashville than in Boston …


[P]eople come to Nashville with dreams to play music, to write music, or to make it in the industry. Nashville also has a major school of music and a major symphony orchestra and a lot of non-country music. Plus it’s warmer, and chiller, and less expensive than NYC.


Having lived in Nashville for the last 10 years, I can tell you that the staff at Waffle House can do better than more than many top 40 artists. There is something to be said about having that many musicians in one place at one time… There are few things more annoying than to go some other town (e.g. NYC or Boston) and listen to a bad band. You forget where you’re from until you listen to a bad band. It doesn’t happen in Nashville. Like. Ever.