Big cities like New York and Los Angeles have more music industry jobs, but you’re more likely to have a neighbor in the biz in Nashville.
In today’s DIY music business, people can perform their jobs from just about anywhere. But as economist Richard Florida pointed out in 2009, the trend in music industry jobs has been increased concentration in a small number of cities. From 1970 to 2006, Nashville was the only city in the country with positive growth in music industry jobs using a location quotient, a measure of a particular industry’s share of the total employment in a given location. “In effect, it sucked up all the growth in the music industry,” Florida wrote.
Nashville’s 27,000 music industry jobs are vital to the city. The jobs earn an income of nearly $1.7 billion and contribute $5.5 billion to the local economy. The multiplier effect means one job can help support additional jobs. In all, the local music industry supports 57,000 jobs and creates a total economic output of $9.7 billion.
None of this has gone unnoticed by the City of Nashville. A report by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Music City Music Council, a group of professionals assembled by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, boasts of music’s great impact on Nashville and the resources available in the modestly sized metropolitan area of 1.7 million. Using economic data compiled by Economic Modeling Specialty International, the report shows how Nashville stacks up to other music hubs.
In terms of concentration of music industry jobs, Nashville is tops with 7.8 per 1,000 residents, according to EMSI data in the report. Los Angeles is a distant second with 2.8. Austin is third with 2.6. At 2.0, New York actually falls beneath the 2.1 of Charlotte, N.C.
It should come as no surprise that the cities with the three highest concentrations of music industry jobs also have the best-paying ones. Los Angeles tops all markets in average music job earnings with 175% of the country’s average salary. Nashville is second at 156%, and New York is third at 147%. Music jobs pay less than the national average in Charlotte (99%), Austin (94%), Atlanta (85%), Memphis (79%) and New Orleans (73%).
Those good salaries go far in Nashville. The city’s cost of living is 11.1% lower than the national average, according to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index. New York is 125% of the national average. Los Angeles is 31% above it.