Mark Moffatt is one of Australia's most successful and respected producers. Among his credits are numerous groundbreaking Australian records including “(I’m) Stranded” by the Saints, Yothu Yindi’s “Treaty” and Anne Kirkpatrick’s landmark country album , “Out of The Blue”. Mark had more productions in the APRA “top 30 songs of all time” than any other single producer. Mark has been based in Nashville since 1996 and is a Nashville Ambassador. In this article he talks about the city that he now calls home:
For many Australian writers and artists, breaking into the US market is the Holy Grail but establishing a base there can seem daunting.
It needn't be – Nashville is now home to the largest writing and recording community in the world and despite this growth these activities have remained very accessible to new comers. It has also become the hippest, affordable and most central touring hub in the US yet the commonly held “country” stereotype causes many sectors of the Australian industry to over look this fact.
At this point in Australia's musical growth the industry should perhaps take a close look at the importance of Nashville as a global resource centre across all genres.
Hopefully the following overview will give an indication of the scale of business (over $6 billion annually) being done in Music City.
Producer/ APRA Nashville ambassador.
Nashville is a music business resource centre second to none with, according to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, annual revenues of $2.64 billion.
The integrated record production and music publishing sectors generate the largest share of sales revenue, estimated to be around $627 million. Radio and television broadcasting industries also contribute to Nashville’s music-related sales revenue by collecting $341.6 million, followed by music-related self-employed individuals ($290.7 million), agents and managers ($281.3 million) and musical groups and individual artists ($278.2 million).
A 2010 study done by the University of Toronto’s School of Management indicates that Nashville has the highest concentration of music businesses of any U.S. or Canadian city.
While it may not possess the size and scale of New York City or the celebrity-making allure of L.A, Nashville does possess the world's best writing and studio talent and the best recording infrastructure across multiple genres.
Today, it is home to over 200 recording studios, 130 music publishers, 100 live music clubs, and 80 record labels.
Economic Impact on Nashville
The Nashville Chamber study reveals the combined impact of direct and secondary spending totals $3.96 billion. Music-related tourism accounts for another $2.42 billion in spending, bringing the total economic impact of the music industry in Metro Nashville to $6.38 billion.
There are 19,437 jobs directly related to music production. These jobs provide $722 million in annual labor income and pay an average annual wage of $37,200. An additional 19,826 jobs are indirectly created when music industry employees spend their income. Music-related tourism supports an additional 14,995 employees in Nashville.
The majority of publishers have their offices in a three block area known as Music Row, as do the labels, studios and booking agents. This has created a close knit yet highly competitive business environment with a strong focus on songwriting and pitching for recording artists.
Major television and movie opportunities for song placement have typically been country related films, such as O, Brother Where Art Thou, Country Strong, and Walk the Line. However, the recent sharp increase in rock and pop success is attracting LA music supervisors to Nashville.
Country singles have an average radio life of 30 weeks, compared with 15 weeks for a pop/rock single, thereby generating twice the performance revenue stream. The number of country singles released to major radio per year averages 350.
Estimated publisher share of radio performance income for a US country #1 single is USD $800,000 to $1 million. Typical writer publisher split is 50/50 with co-publishing negotiated as the writer achieves success.
Nashville uses a weekly writer’s draw system, as opposed to a lump sum advance, which defrays up front signing costs while still allowing writer/ artists to concentrate on their craft and networking.
2010 was an unprecedented year for Nashville with crossover stars, massive hits in several genres, and a breadth of talent that influenced everything from Americana to punk.
Recent non-country Nashville successes include Kings of Leon, Keisha, the Black Keys, Paramore, Jack White, the Civil Wars and Taylor Swift. Other high profile non-country residents include Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Jon Bon Jovi, My Morning Jacket and Darius Rucker (Hootie) to name a few.
Alt rock bands The Pink Spiders, Be Your Own Pet and pop artist Landon Pigg were signed out of Nashville by New York majors as a result of an increase in awareness brought about by the breakout successes of 2010.
The booming Americana genre is based in Nashville, as are its flagship artists Robert Plant, Allison Krauss, Emmy Lou Harris, Steve Earle, John Prine, Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller. Americana music is the home of many iconic American songsmiths, including among others Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Nancy Griffith, and J.D Souther.
Not to be overlooked, the Christian/Gospel category of overall music sales is the sixth most popular genre according to SoundScan's 2010 year-end report. Gospel music sales outpace sales of Latin, soundtracks, and jazz, classical and new age genres. This important industry sector also calls Nashville home.
Touring and Support Infrastructure
Nashville is situated within 500 miles of 75% of the US population and consequently has become the leading US touring hub across all genres. This is a significant fact that has been overlooked by many artists planning to break into the mainstream US market.
The infrastructure that has grown as a result includes the largest tour bus, tour personnel, equipment rental, and stadium-ready rehearsal companies in the US. Nashville also has the lowest cost of living of the three major US music centres coupled with the largest and most accessible creative community in the US.
The world’s largest management companies and booking agencies all have Nashville offices, as do BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, the Grammys, (NARAS). All major trade publications have a Nashville based correspondent.