Country music stars Emmylou Harris and Kix Brooks, along with guitarist Jack White, will soon be giving advice to Nashville's mayor.
The three have joined the 46-member Music Business Council, which the mayor says will help protect Nashville's brand name as "Music City."
"There are a lot of good people in this community, with lots of good ideas," Harris said in the Sunday edition of The Tennessean. "I'm just saying to the mayor, 'Put me in, coach.'"
The panel is expected to advise on initiatives including the construction of a downtown amphitheater, the expansion of the CMA Music Festival, the creation of a new, non-country festival and the enhancement of music education.
The council is further acknowledgment of the extent to which Nashville's cultural and fiscal health is inextricably tied to the music that is made here. A 2006 study commissioned by Belmont University and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce showed the music industry has a $6.38 billion impact on Nashville's economy, roughly 20,000 jobs are directly tied to music production and 15,000 jobs are linked to music-related tourism.
"We are known to the world as 'Music City,' " Dean said. "Not 'The Athens of the South' or 'The Home of the Cumberland' or whatever. And we need to protect our brand and our positioning as Music City, to keep creative people here and attract people to the city and help our tax base. We want to know what the city can do together with the music industry to help them succeed here."
Songwriter Rivers Rutherford attended the first council meeting last week, and he was pleased to hear discussion of assisting musicians with housing.
"When I first came to Nashville, I stayed in some rough motels, and I even slept in my car in Centennial Park," Rutherford said. "I had no clue about where to go or who to talk to. One objective the mayor has is to find a way to have a songwriters' hostel. I would really like to see that happen."
Dean would like that as well.
"The key message I'm trying to get across to the music industry is, 'We care, we want you here, and you are what gives the city its edge,'" he said.
The council includes representation from most facets of Nashville's music industry, including, producers, professors, singers, songwriters, agents, publishers, people who run record labels and people who run tour bus companies.