Billboard reports that Jack White and Emmylou Harris have joined the Nashville Music Business Council, a 46-member group that includes producers, songwriters, artists, agents, and publicists. The council hopes to improve the city’s long-standing music connection by creating a new amphitheater downtown, increasing musical education, and expanding local music festivals.
“We are known to the world as ‘Music City,’ ” said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean at the council’s inaugural meeting. “Not ‘The Athens of the South’ or ‘The Home of the Cumberland’ or whatever. And we need to protect our brand and our positioning as Music City, to keep creative people here and attract people to the city and help our tax base. We want to know what the city can do together with the music industry to help them succeed here.”
Songwriter Rivers Rutherford, who was in attendance, addressed the topic of assisted living for struggling local musicians. “When I first came to Nashville, I stayed in some rough motels, and I even slept in my car in Centennial Park,” he said. “I had no clue about where to go or who to talk to. One objective the mayor has is to find a way to have a songwriters’ hostel. I would really like to see that happen.”
“The key message I’m trying to get across to the music industry is, ‘We care, we want you here, and you are what gives the city its edge,'” said Dean.
A 2006 study showed the music business pumps $6.38 billion into Nashville’s economy. Around 20,000 jobs in the city are directly tied to the music biz, and 15,000 jobs are connected to music-related tourism.