Worry Not: A New Council Bill Won't Hurt Home Recording Studios

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For the past couple weeks, a decent bit of behind-the-scenes anxiety has built over an otherwise frank bill introduced by Metro Councilman Mike Jameson to create new rules to allow home-based businesses to function mostly like actual businesses.

The bill is the kind of obvious amendment that sometimes arrives to clarify an obscure or outdated law. But a growing number of people have become worried that the amendment would also hamstring home-studio recording engineers to the point of putting them out of business.

Not so, Jameson says.

“When we were drafting this amendment, what got repeated in the ‘prohibited uses’ were a laundry list of the current prohibited uses, and that included recording studios,” he says. “That was not intended.”

Jameson tells Pith he’ll amend the final version to make sure home studios, among other things, are protected. He says he met with the Recording Industry Association of America on Monday morning and assured officials there that the bill wouldn’t ultimately affect home studios.

Like pretty much all other home-based businesses, such recording studios have always been restricted by law beyond the point of functionality. That’s because the law — as written — says you can set up a home-based business but cannot have clients, visitors, patrons and so forth. Jameson says he and officials with the planning department have looked at some 250 other cities and found no home-occupancy code as restrictive as Nashville’s.

“The bottom line is that I’d be hard-pressed for anybody to justify the current version of the code,” Jameson says.

There are 152 home-occupancy permits on file now, he says. But if you cross-reference general business permits with addresses in residential zones, Jameson says, you find some 8,000. And according to the most recent U.S. Census figures, more than 12,000 Nashvillians said they work from home.

“The vast majority of them are technically — well, they’re illegal,” he says. “But I don’t believe illegal in the sense that Nashvillians really want them gone.”

So rock on, Nashville. Codes wants to hear ya!

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