Nashville Music Industry Leaders Detail Best Practices Working Through Pandemic

17th Avenue South. Photo: Sherod Robertson

On Sunday (March 22) Nashville Mayor John Cooper issued a ‘safer at home’ order for all of Davidson County for two weeks, which prohibits groups of more than 10 people from gathering, leaving Music Row virtually empty and music business professionals working from home.

MusicRow Magazine talked to several small business leaders in the Nashville music industry about operating their companies with their teams spread out and working remotely.

Working from home, and out of your usual routine, can come with a lot of challenges. Many music business professionals who are also parents described keeping their children busy while schools are closed as a huge challenge.

Children can add challenges when in the workplace.

“Finding a balance between three kids at home and work has been challenging,” says Founder & CEO, Music Health Alliance, Tatum Hauck Allsep. “After the first two days we’ve found our groove. It was an adjustment for me more than for them. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, and I had to give myself permission in a strange way to be present and to stop for a little while and build a fort with our 9 year old. It is an unexpected gift in this unusual season.”

Creating routines in a non-routine world is key.

Many have also found that keeping a routine, getting outside, enjoying the time home with loved ones, and checking in on your team’s wellbeing is essential.

“I think trying to maintain a routine can be helpful. Shower, get dressed, have a separate room or part of your house/apartment that is your work area, and don’t forget about self-care. Sometimes you need a walk/break/fun movie or glass of wine,” says Co-Owner of The GreenRoom, Kristie Sloan.

Loeb & Loeb’s Partner and Co-Manager, Derek C. Crownover suggests making sure your work space is efficient. “Take the time, if you can, to get your small organized efficient office set up away from the family so you can not only focus on work, but focus on them later too.”

The best trick is knowing there are no tricks.

Reviver Entertainment’s Founder/President/CEO, David Ross, says, “[There are] no tricks. Be true to yourself. Show and communicate true concern and have patience.”

Allsep further drives home that point of having true concern for your team members.

“I learned a lesson this week and believe that it is important to share,” Allsep says. “I was NOT sensitive to the fact that many of our younger music industry professionals have not been faced with the magnitude of change that we are experiencing right now with the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. I was sharing too much clinical information about the capacity of COVID-19, and having no idea that it was negatively impacting the mental health of some of my closest associates. The lesson: Everyone processes information differently. Many music industry professionals live alone, away from loved ones, etc. Too much information can be harmful. Be sensitive to your teams in the coming weeks. The mental health of our music community is important right now and there is not a one size that fits all. Try to get to understand where they are coming from emotionally and be considerate of their age and life experience.”

Being present in the moment can offer inspiration and creativity.

As for managing songwriters and artists, many have let the creatives lead the way on their use of this uncertain time. Some creatives are taking this time to hunker down with family and friends, to be present in the moment that will ultimately inspire music in the future. Others have hardly missed a beat, moving their writes to video chat and staying active on social media.

“During the first week we unfortunately had many cancellations because we had several writers traveling in from out of town who needed to cancel their travel plans,” says Tree Vibez Music’s General Manager, Leslie DiPiero. “Once everyone got their ‘Quarantine Legs’ many writers have been video conferencing and/or been sending ideas and tracks then jumping on calls and video conferencing to finish their songs.”

“Everyone is doing the best they can but mostly they are creating by themselves or we are setting up FaceTime, Zoom or Skype co-writes,” says Creative Nation Co-Founder/CEO, Beth Laird. “Lori McKenna is a pro at this because she has been Skype writing from Boston for years.”

Make Wake Artists’ Founder/Owner Chris Kappy knows that this unprecedented period of time will inspire meaningful music.

“I don’t know if they are creating, as much as they are pre-creating, by getting ideas and inspiration for future pieces of work,” Kappy says. “By keeping up with social distancing measures, they aren’t writing, but I know how they are, and I know they are thinking of new ideas as they have so much free time to just, think. I bet this time that is so dark right now, creates some beautiful songs in the coming months and years.”

Stay connected with people in innovative ways.

To stay connected, many are turning to video chat systems to communicate effectively with their teams, listing Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and FaceTime as essential video-chatting programs. Others are implementing project management systems like Slack, Asana and Wunderlist.

With the cancellation of many live appearances over the next few months, a lot of artists have turned to social media and live-streamed performances to generate fan connection.

“The majority of our artists have been utilizing social media, including Facebook Live, IGTV, and TikTok, to continue to perform and connect with their fans,” says AristoMedia President, Christy Walker-Watkins. “Not only have they been able to entertain fans with music, but they have been able to bring fans into homes, giving them a closer look at their hobbies and/or interests outside of music, and in some cases, appear to be connecting with fans on a whole new level.”

Ultimately, Nashville music business leaders are striving to stay energized and encouraging.

“Between the tornado and Coronavirus, we have been hit by a lot lately but we are the most connected music community in the world and we will support one another and get through this together,” says Laird. “Also we have great resources available through Music Cares, Lifting Lives and Porter’s Call if anyone needs extra help. I look forward to hearing all the new songs that will come from this and can’t wait to get back to greeting my friends with hugs in person!”

“Nashville and the music community here that has enjoyed a way of life from music, unlike any other city, is going to have to lock arms with our live show community whether it’s downtown Nashville live players, venues and staff, touring musicians or even top-tier touring artists to ride this one out,” Crownover says. “The city and state leaders will need to step in quickly to help. The music community leaders will need to step up and give to those in need whether that’s cash, food, a place to stay, babysitting, option money or advances on upcoming work or even helping those out of work find an interim project outside of the music business. Time for some sheer humanity to kick in the same way we do when a tornado hits.”

Know this truth: We will get through this (even if we don’t feel it at times.)

“We are going through a tough time, the toughest our entire industry has ever seen… we will get through this,” Kappy says. “If you need help, ask. If you are in a depressed state, reach out. This is hard and scary, don’t try and fight it alone. Ask for some love, as we have it to give. That’s why I love Nashville.”

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About the Author

LB Rogers is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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