Nashville joins national cohort of cities seeking data-driven policy solutions to support its creative ecosystem

January 22, 2024Today Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT), Music Venue Alliance of Nashville, Belmont University, Broadway Entertainment Association, and Nashville Musicians Association have come together to announce the launch of the Greater Nashville Music Census.

With a call for community partners to join the project, the organizations will be working in partnership with Sound Music Cities, a civic-oriented music policy firm, and joining a cohort of 20 cities across the US seeking data-driven policy solutions to support their creative ecosystems.

The census, aimed to open mid to late February 2024, will collect a variety of data from local musicians, music professionals, music nonprofits, and music venues as it relates to how they both live and work within the greater Nashville area. It will then analyze the results and provide community leaders and policymakers with a roadmap of potential legislative solutions to address what many view as a mounting creative culture crisis facing Nashville.

“Music is often described as the heartbeat of Nashville and serves as a vital attraction for economic development here,” said Eric Holt, founder of Lovenoise and assistant professor at Belmont University. “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.”

Diving even deeper into that sentiment, Lauren Morales of the Broadway Entertainment Association noted, “The musical culture of Nashville needs nurturing in tandem with the city’s continued growth. We’re excited to gain a better understanding of who we are now and to have the data to thoughtfully affect where we are headed.”

The census will survey the Greater Nashville region, which includes the 14 counties in and around Nashville.

“As prices have soared in Nashville in recent years, many within our music industry have migrated to surrounding counties where the cost of living may remain more affordable,” said Kelly Walberg, vice president of communications for CFMT. “Most still proudly consider themselves a part of the robust Nashville music industry, so we feel it paramount that the geographic region truly reflects the current landscape.”

Nashville joins a national cohort that includes 20 cities and is growing. All efforts are community-led, not-for-profit, and will open source the data collected to anyone interested once the census is complete

“The beauty of the Music Census is the truly collaborative nature of it,” said Chris Cobb, president of the Music Venue Alliance of Nashville. “Between other cities, between other studies, and between community organizations here in middle TN. We believe it’s going to be a perfect complement to the data being collected by the current (Metro commissioned) venues study, as well as the previous Arts & Business Council’s Creative Economy Survey.”

While data collection is the root of these efforts, coalition building and policy solutions are equally important to the success of this census.

“We know anecdotally what our current problems are, and we have great examples of solutions coming from peer cities,” said Jamie Kent, local singer-songwriter and founder of Backstage Strategies. “But historically, our industry hasn’t been very well organized when it comes to advocating for itself at the local level. So the bigger a coalition we can build through this census, the bigger the ideas we can tackle coming out of it.”

The Greater Nashville Music Census welcomes all community partners to join the effort and will host its next meeting in early February to finalize an official timeline for the launch of the Census. “Nashville has the most concentrated and diverse musician population in the world,” says Dave Pomeroy, president of the Nashville Musicians Association. “And now more than ever, we all need to be able to communicate, connect, and find our common ground. This census is a great starting point to do just that.”

To learn more about the Greater Nashville Music Census, to get involved, or to join the project as a community partner, please visit

For press inquiries, interview requests, or additional questions, please contact Jamie Kent at

About Music Venue Alliance of Nashville
Music Venue Alliance of Nashville (MVAN) is an organization of passionate and fiercely independent music venue owners and operators committed to retaining and nurturing the fragile yet complex ecosystem of every individual aspect of our famous music scene here in Nashville, TN. MVAN seeks to enlighten, educate and heighten awareness of what it means to be truly independent, and in this mission of advocacy and renewed appreciation, hopes to ensure many more decades of passion-fueled small business success and prosperity.

About Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee unites compassionate individuals and worthy causes to build a more thriving and inclusive community by transforming thoughtful generosity into positive change. Its generous donors span the community and are driven by a shared commitment to addressing diverse needs.

About Nashville Musicians Association
Nashville Musicians Association, AFM Local 257, was founded in 1902. Our mission is to promote respect for musicians, the work they do, and the intellectual property they create, in a constantly evolving business environment. We represent studio musicians, touring bands, symphonic musicians, vocalists, arrangers, composers, contractors, and more. We negotiate and administer contracts, track additional uses of songs recorded under AFM union contracts, and represent musicians in all genres of music from jazz to rock, pop, bluegrass, gospel, and yes, country music.

About Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business
Since 1973, the heart of music row has flowed through Belmont. Beginning with a music business program designed to prepare people for operational, administrative, creative and technical careers in the music industry, Belmont has expanded its degree programs to encompass all aspects of the entertainment industry. The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business was established in 2003 and is a world leader in music business and entertainment industry education.

About Backstage Strategies
Backstage Strategies is a strategic communication and government relations firm specializing in music, arts, entertainment, and health. Founded by singer/songwriter and strategist Jamie Kent, Backstage Strategies was formed from a unique experience in both music and government relations to help broker solutions and conversations that support TN’s creative working class. Kent’s story and strategies have helped unite the creative community on a variety of issues across the political spectrum, and his work has resulted in bipartisan laws passed at both the state and local level in Tennessee. Kent is also the founder of The BAM Group, an advocacy agency that provides services ranging from coalition management, to PR and media design/placement.

About Broadway Entertainment Association
The mission of the Broadway Entertainment Association (BEA) is to preserve the unique culture of entertainment and popularity of Lower Broadway through advocacy and education. BEA consists of small business owners who operate entertainment establishments on and around historic Lower Broadway in Downtown Nashville. BEA is committed to the preservation and continued development of Lower Broadway.

About Sound Music Cities
Based in Austin, Texas, Sound Music Cities was established from a rich blend of experiences in music-related policy, music development program design, and sound management initiatives. With profound expertise spanning the music industry and municipal governance, the team stands as a respected authority in the field, making them a go-to source for music ecosystem studies and music census endeavors in the US. Members of the Sound Music Cities team, during their tenures in municipal roles, crafted policies and legislation that marked the most substantial overhaul of music permitting and sound enforcement protocols in decades. Beyond these accomplishments, Sound Music Cities proudly hosts the Music Cities Think Tank—an exclusive, annual assembly of music policy specialists and practitioners from over 20 cities worldwide. This invite-only event is curated to foster in-depth conversations, allowing a select cohort to delve into contemporary challenges and strategies in the music world.