The Other Nashville Society Connects Music City’s Diverse Creative Community

Pictured (L-R): Josh Collum, Katie Fagan, Holley Mayer, Ally Venable, Mark Abramowitz. Photo: Blythe Thomas

Over the past several years, Nashville has slowly become known to outsiders as more than just the capital of country music, thanks to pop/rock artists such as Jack White, Meghan Trainor, Ben Folds, Dan Auerbach, Paramore, Moon Taxi, and more recently, Justin Timberlake, who have either moved to Music City or developed their craft here.

The Other Nashville Society (TONS) aims to build a trade organization that caters to the business needs of the non-country music community as well as trade organizations such as the Country Music Association that cater to the country music industry.

Established in 2017, TONS serves as a connection point for Nashville music executives and musicians who are primarily involved in genres including pop, rock, singer/songwriter, soul, emo, hip-hop, EDM, R&B, jazz, orchestral, Christian, electronic and more.

Josh Collum, who runs music licensing company Sorted Noise, teamed with Ally Venable, Holley Maher, Mark Abramowitz and Prescription Songs’ Katie Fagan to co-found the venture.

“We say TONS is part social club, part trade organization,” Collum says. “This is about connecting and making cool stuff happen. We want an attorney to find their next client, or a producer to find their next artist, through this organization.”

The group quickly found a following; two days after its launch, TONS’ membership grew to 250 members. Today, the society’s membership stands at nearly 550 members, all personally approved for membership by the group’s founders.

“Every week, we get together and go over applications for the week, and accept or decline,” Collum says. “Primarily, we want to include people who make a living through non-country genres of music. When we throw an event or hold a mixer, we want everyone to walk out of there feeling like everyone they talked to was a great connection.”

Among those members are recent Nashville transplant Jim Jonsin (producer for Pitbull, Beyonce), as well as Boots Ottestad (writer/producer for Backstreet Boys, Robbie Williams), ET Brown (SESAC), Rachael Lampa (Dove award-winning musician), Bryan Mead (PledgeMusic), and Daniel Wise (writer/producer for Ani DiFranco). The organization has facilitated those connections with an array of educational events, called TONS Talk, and mixers. In February, the organization held an open house to share its mission with potential new members.

To further facilitate the organization’s mission, The Other Nashville Society recently moved its offices to the co-working space HOME in East Nashville.

Collum originated the idea for The Other Nashville Society after spending time in California and New York for his job.

“I was fighting a lot of perception that comes along with being from Nashville, though we don’t represent country artists. I was always sensitive that there wasn’t a gathering point for us, the non-country folks. The country music is such a community and does community so well, and we hadn’t. Three years ago, everyone started moving here. “You saw Roc Nation open an office here, and Mark and Katie coming here. Songwriters are coming to Nashville to do more sessions and an infrastructure is being built. It just takes time and we hope to play a part in that.”

Collum says new Nashvillians such as Jonsin and BORNS producer Tommy English are steadily adding to the non-country music industry’s infrastructure.

“The last piece of the puzzle, which I think will take a long time, is making rock, hip-hop and pop records in Nashville,” Collum says. “I mean big records, because obviously there are indie artists. To make a pop record, you are going to go to LA. Even the big artists who live here go to LA. Our hope is that the next big unknown pop producer comes from Nashville.

“Great artists live here, great songwriters live here, great music is being made here that is outside of country music. Hopefully, another piece of The Other Nashville Society will help tell that story.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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