By Logan Langlois
NASHVILLE, TN —Jeff Syracuse, Metro’s Council District 15 representative, has vocalized his support for local music venue staple Exit/In, its longtime operator Chris Cobb, and the protection of Nashville independent music venues for some time. Since Cobb’s first announcement that the land upon which the Exit/In stands had been sold by the people he was renting from to the Chicago-based hotel development company AJ Capital, Syracuse has been public with his view that Nashvillians were beginning to become victims of their own success.
“I’ve been finding myself saying that more and more,” Syracuse said in a recent interview. “You come in with the cool, kinda hip stuff; the small little businesses, the local independent support for creatives, and all that. That drives your brand, that drives the excitement for your city, and then big development comes in and steamrolls over that to build these big, expensive, cool condos.”
Syracuse said the shutdown of local venues could have a severe impact on the financial stability of local career artists as well as the stability of a healthy local music ecosystem— The same ecosystem which he credits as being the driving force behind what made Nashville unique in the first place. “You’re seeing some new venues open up and I’m not going to discount that, but a lot of them are corporatized,” he continued. “I’m not anti-Loud Nation and I’m not anti-AEG, but there has to be that healthy balance.”
To influence this balance, Syracuse was granted money and resources under the promise of conducting a study that will assess exactly how well local and independent venues can keep up with Nashville’s current financial boom, a boom that has led to a great increase in the city’s wealth but has also brought in copious amounts of interest from outside corporate players who have motives behind their investments other than the city’s health and stability. This influx of immense amounts of out-of-city corporate interests and financial investments has been criticized by locals as not allowing local businesses to keep up. Syracuse has been granted $300,000 in total to conduct his research plan, with $260,000 being funded by the American Rescue Plan, $30,000 from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, and $10,000 from the CVC (Convention and Visitors Corporation).
Syracuse says that the study’s main objective is to ensure that the brand which surrounds Music City’s authenticity is maintained to be truthful and that Nashville continues to be a place bursting at the seams with local talent who can support themselves through their art.
“If we’re not careful, if we don’t protect that dream of a songwriter or musician coming here to be successful, we lose a big part of our DNA,” Syracuse explained.
He said the best way the average person can support their local scene right now is through supporting local artists by buying their merchandise and going to their shows at local venues. He also encourages people to go out and vote for candidates who have publicly shown they have Nashville’s local independent music scene’s best interests in mind. He hopes and somewhat expects that there could be some legislation coming from his study’s findings, which he encourages people to keep a lookout for.