I'll just post it.....it's freakin' long but the solution outlined is well thought out and reasoned.
He gave Rachelinthecity permission to post it
So I'm taking a great leap of faith to paste it here.
Making Memphis Music Work
I meant to link to this post that Sherman Wilmott wrote for Smart City Memphis a few weeks back. With his permission, I am reposting it in its entirety. It's a long read, but there are some really great suggestions with a lot of insight!
These are my ideas on how to improve (and increase the revenue of) the Memphis music industry. For the past 17 years, I have worked in music retail; wholesale; distribution; promotion; booking; music tourism; running one of the most prolific record labels in Memphis since the days of Stax & Hi (40th release coming out this fall!) as well as publishing. I have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own money into a Memphis record label and the Memphis music business. I have seen a lot of ridiculous ideas fail and a few good ones thrive in Memphis. The following opinions are not ones that have been tossed out idly without any basis. They are deeply rooted in my observations for the whole of my adult life of the Memphis market as it relates to itself as well as the world music industry. They have been shared in written form several times with the Memphis Music Commission. I have never seen any of these ideas implemented by the various commissions in their 7 or 8 year existence. My company has seen no benefit from--nor does it expect to-- Memphis Music Commission/Foundation activity.
How to Make the Memphis Music Pie Bigger
The music business has changed quite a bit since the day when Memphis was on top of the music world in the 1950's, 1960's, and early 1970's. Historically, sales of 78's, 45's, and lp's by artists or bands from Memphis on small, independent labels based in Memphis constituted the basis for the Memphis music industry, making Memphis internationally renowned in the world of music. Record sales did two things: 1) made Memphis known worldwide for its studio output, and 2) allowed the artists with the biggest sales to become national and international recording and touring stars. All of this history is fine and good, but the Memphis music "industry" no longer works that way. What Memphis needs to understand is how to grow its current music business as it has been crawling back from its deep malaise in the late 70's and early 80's since 1990.
Understanding exactly what comprises the current state of the Memphis music business helps to envision where scarce financial resources should or could be implemented. The Memphis music business is about live music and the people who consume it--along with beer, alcohol, meals in restaurants, hotel rooms, rental cars, and shopping. Once one understands and acknowledges this premise, then one can understand why Memphis should concentrate on improving its live music infrastructure and amenities in order to continue to build and grow the Memphis music industry. The wrong and often tried paradigm - especially in the last 20 years in Memphis - of trying to get major labels or "hot" producers to move to Memphis or trying to get Memphis acts signed to major labels--is mere fool's gold for anyone trying to build a long-lasting business model in Memphis music.
The Memphis Music "industry" should recognize these changes and adapt a program accordingly. Currently, the money in the national music industry is spent on a relatively small number of acts that are hand-picked by the major labels, which are owned by huge multi-national corporations. These labels move their promotional machines behind their artist's cd/mp3 and do expensive marketing and crossover promotions with their young artists with whom they have signed the lowest royalty rates. The "industry" has very little to do, proportionally dollarwise, with recording music any more, and everything to do with expensive cross-promotions by these major corporations: "If you put our band on your fast food cup, we'll pay advertising for your burger chain..." etc. Studios are not where the money is made in the national industry anymore.
Where is the money made in the Memphis music industry? Hotels, restaurants, bars, instrument shops, record stores, beer distributors, and radio stations, as well as other media outlets that sell advertising for the Memphis music heard in the clubs, theaters, and concert halls. Far more money is made in Memphis in the live music industry than in the studio or record label industry. Studios have become commoditized. Currently there are probably over 500 recording studios in Memphis - around 30 or so commercially available - and none of them are booked full-time. Most of the commercial studios are available at steeply discounted rates whenever an artist or label needs the service.
One busy night at a Memphis nightclub can contribute far more dollars to the Memphis music business than a two-week session at a Memphis recording studio. The upcoming Tom Waits show is a perfect example of this. Expect at least 20 percent of the concert-goers to be driving (or flying) in to Memphis for the weekend. 600 people will be paying for hotel rooms for at least one night, possibly two or three. 600 people will be buying drinks all weekend. 600 people will be buying two or three meals a day. 600 people will be shopping in Memphis stores for the weekend. 600 people will be buying gas or renting cars here. 600 people will be spending money in Memphis who otherwise would be spending their money in another city except for the fact that the Orpheum booked the concert in Memphis.
Do the math. How much money do you think those 600 people will spend in Memphis that weekend? Far more than the impact of a $100,000 studio recording budget, which would be a pretty damn rare event these days anyway. Once one understands the vastly greater potential for live music dollars than making money through traditional music business paradigms, then one can understand how to improve the music business in Memphis.
How does this business work? Music fans come to Memphis to see and hear live music. They fly or drive in (plane tickets/cab fare or gas in town), book a room at a Memphis hotel, buy meals at Memphis restaurants, buy cover charges and drinks from the club, buy a t-shirt or cd from the band at the show, buy records at Memphis record stores, visit Sun Studio/Graceland/Stax/Gibson/RocknSoul/Civil Rights/Brooks/etc. That in a nutshell is the Memphis music business. The studio and record label business pales in comparison to the beer sales and cover charges clubs make. D. Canale and Jack Daniels are making far more money off the Memphis music industry than Young Ave. Sound.
This music business theory is no different than the premise that hosting large soccer tournaments for youth teams creates far more business than having a professional soccer team in Memphis. Enhancing the music scene costs a whole lot less than trying to convince or incentivize major labels to move to Memphis. Memphis already has the infrastructure of the clubs, hotels, and great musicians/bands in place.
In order to take advantage and improve this growing business, Memphis should do a few things to enhance the market.
1) Build (and Maintain!) a Great Website for Memphis Music events. Update it and keep it accurate. The closest example in Memphis is www.memphismojo.com
but these are privately-owned resources that need investment to improve the offerings and keep them current. Live from Memphis has the added bonus of promoting live footage of Memphis music as well as maintaining as complete a database of Memphis musicians and production resources as there is - a unique website for sure. This is the cheapest, most economical way to promote Memphis music, and it has been unbelievable to watch the Music Commission not work with this established organization.
2) Create a Satellite Radio Station Broadcasting Memphis Music/Events and
Incorporate Blues Caravan. Broadcast from either Stax Museum, S. Main, Chisca Hotel, Sun Studio, or some other major Memphis music icon (Worst case scenario, have it on Beale St, where original Memphis music used to be heard and was made popular throughout the world in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's). Play all genres of Memphis music 24 hours a day, continuously promoting and broadcasting Memphis music & cultural events to the world. Hire Memphis icons like Sam the Sham, Wayne Jackson, Sid Selvidge, Cody Dickinson, Al Kapone, Buck Wilders, etc., to d.j. (This idea could work with less impact as a Web Radio Station broadcasting Memphis Music/Events). This is the #1 initiative to promote Memphis music worldwide. Memphis does not need an "oldies" station; it needs the best of the past, present, and future.
3) Create a Nationally Distributed Memphis Soul Stew Television Show a la Austin City Limits—with Blues Caravan, possibly at Orpheum, Beale St., Cannon Center, etc. Live performances as well as feature pieces a la Behind the Music or Biography. Possibly work with WKNO or Library Channel studio (Cost estimated: weekly show--$750,000 (30 shows x $25,000); monthly show $480,000 (12 shows x $40,000)) Syndicate nationally/internationally with BBC. Broadcast from website. Not a valentine to the good ole days featuring past icons, but a hip show that presents the best of the past, present, and future.
4) Increase the Number of Live Music Options. Improve the budgets of current music events.
a) Boost current live music events/festivals to new levels by increasing budgets. Amounts as small as $5,000-10,000 would increase the quality of virtually every event already on the Memphis music events calendar.
Current Events/Festivals on the Memphis Music Calendar:
Blues Foundation Talent Competition—January
Naras Event or Awards Festival—March/early April
Memphis in May BBQ Fest—May