5 Things to Never Do in Nashville

Hey everyone! We are back this week with something a little different. A good friend of mine, Eric Barfield, also authors a music blog and reached out to me recently about a possible blog post swap for this week. I thought it sounded like a fun idea and so we both provided each other with ideas. Since Eric is working in Nashville, I thought it might be really cool to see what he had to say about the don’ts of working there. So, without further ado, here is his take on the things you should not be doing in Nashville.

About a year ago I relocated from St. Louis to Nashville to pursue my career as a musician. Since the move I’ve had to learn a lot quickly (and occasionally painfully) about how to work in the exploding Nashville music scene. Here are my top 5 don’ts for working in this southern town:

5. Don’t be rude.

In markets like Los Angeles and New York it feels like you can get away with being a bit “forward” or blunt about what you’re thinking and feeling. South of the Mason-Dixon line, southern manners are very important. People just don’t put up with jerks, even if you don’t mean to be one.

To keep getting called for work, be extra polite and have a great attitude always. Make sure to say thank you, please, and remember to talk with extra respect to anyone you work with. Even if it’s the guy at the bottom of the totem pole.

4. Don’t constantly self-promote.

It’s easy to seem desperate when you’re constantly begging for work. I’ve heard of people getting passed up for gigs just because they were always free, which could mean they weren’t very talented (not fair, but understandable when you’re working with big budgets and can’t afford to take a chance).

3. Don’t run down the Country genre.

Even if you hate country music, at least learn to respect the talent of the many musicians that make country music their life’s work. Above all, never, ever complain about the genre. How would you feel if someone said your chosen genre was a cesspool of talentless hacks? Yeah, you probably would think he was a jerk, too.

2. Don’t think you’re special because you know famous people.

Every successful musician in Nashville that I’ve talked to absolutely refuses to name-drop. I’ve often had lunch with a musician, talked for hours about music, and then learned a week later they were cutting a top 40 artist’s new album.

The logic behind the name-dropping ban is simple: boasting falls into that southern-manners-deadly-sin category, and it’s just poor form to brag. Also, everybody knows somebody in this town (Nashville’s population is less than a million people, compared to L.A. and New York’s 8+ million), so simply working in close proximity with a star doesn’t necessarily reflect whether you’re top talent yourself.

1. Don’t be flaky.

This is the cardinal sin of most competitive music scenes, and in a comparatively small town like Nashville (see above) flakiness can literally be a career-breaker. Word travels at lightning speed when someone doesn’t show for a gig, skips a rehearsal without calling, or backs out of any agreement, and it takes years to mend your reputation. There are literally hundreds of talented individuals for each job, and a talent scout only has to make a few phone calls to replace you permanently if you’re being flaky.

Sounds like that is pretty cut and dried to me! I would go so far as to say these are probably rules that will help benefit you in some way regardless of what music scene in which you’re working. If you dig Eric’s post here or want to find out more about him, you can check out his blog right here: http://ericwbarfield.com/blog/

Do you have additional insight on Nashville or thoughts on this topic? Please share them in the comments below!


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