Hey, Does Anyone Know if Nashville Is 'The Silicon Valley of the Music Business'?



Well, it's been about ... two years now, which means it's time for creative-classer Richard Florida to do one of his favorite things, which is pointing out that music is made in places, and those places have lots of musicians making music in music places. In a post titled "The Geography of America's Pop Music/Entertainment Complex" over at The Atlantic Cities, Florida asks: "So what does the geography of popular music look like? Which cities are the epicenters of today's pop music production complex?" Well, Florida says, on May 28 of the year 2013:

My research team at the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) used Myspace to shed some light on this question, using data originally organized by cultural sociologist Dan Silver and the University of Chicago's Cultural Policy Center. Downloaded in early 2007 at the peak of the site's popularity (it had more visitors than Google at the time), the data cover more than three million artists.

Yep, by using MySpace data from 2007, Florida has once again, pretty much on schedule, come to basically the same conclusions he came to in 2008 — especially that Nashville is a special music place for musicians!

This probably sounds kinda familiar. Here's Florida in May, 2009, riffing on that theme, in "The Nashville Effect," a post where he debuts one of his favorite analogies:

While Nashville may not possess the size and scale of New York City, the celebrity-making allure of L.A., the top-40 hit-making appeal of Atlanta, or even the critical cachet of Austin or Montreal, across many genres it possesses the world's best writing and studio talent and the best recording infrastructure. Today, it's home to over 180 recording studios, 130 music publishers, 100 live music clubs, and 80 record labels. It's turned into the Silicon Valley of the music business, combining the best institutions, the best infrastructure, and the best talent. [Emphasis added.]

Yay, Nashville!

And here is Florida Man again ... about two years later ... back to the chorus in "The Changing Geography of Pop Music":

While Nashville lacks the diversity of genres found in LA and NY, according to an analysis of MySpace data conducted by my colleague Dan Silver, it has large concentrations of commercial genres beyond country, spanning Christian, pop, rock and punk—so much so, that over the past decade or so Nashville has begun to suck in talent from the rest of the country and the world.  … The ongoing evolution of Nashville has made it into something of a Silicon Valley of the music business, combining the best institutions, the best infrastructure, and the best talent, as I noted in a post here in May 2009 ("The Nashville Effect"). [Emphasis added.]

Which brings us back to this most recent post — using MySpace data from six years ago — two years after his other post quoting his other post:

Nashville boasts the largest concentration of musical talent and of recording and music industry establishments on a per person basis (as I noted here). Nashville, in effect, has become akin to the "Silicon Valley" of the music business, combining accessibility, professionalism, great music infrastructure, and great talent. And the city's role extends beyond the its [sic] core of country and Christian music. Nashville plays an increasingly important role in rock and pop, attracting top talent like Jack White, The Black Keys, and many other mainstream rock and pop acts, as well as supporting a thriving indie scene. [Emphasis added.]

Hey, if we can't be the next Silicon Valley (we can't), we can at least be the Silicon Valley of the Music Business™ every two years in something Richard Florida writes!

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