Guest Blog By Nashville Chapter Board Member Steve Schnur
When I first came to Nashville in 1995, Houston’s was considered the best restaurant in town, the Tennessee Oilers were still a rumor, and both Lower Broadway and The Gulch were desolate and somewhat terrifying. But nevertheless, there was a tangible shift happening in the attitude, in the industry, in the air. And I knew that Nashville was where I wanted to be.
Within a few short years, country music’s changing business models began to attract fervent new audiences. A burgeoning tech sector was focusing on the challenges of the digital revolution. Creatives from around the world were buying homes in East Nashville. There was decent sushi in Green Hills. But this was about more than just real estate or lunch; our city was becoming focused on progress and community in ways that changed its landscape forever. Today, Nashville is as happily meat & three as it is vegan. It’s both Vanderbilt Law and Curb College of Entertainment and Music. It’s HTML and LGBT, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist and Sikh. It’s the Titans, the Preds, the Sounds and soon, I hope, an MLS expansion team. It’s Third Man and Big Machine. And it’s as much banjos and fiddles as it is MCs and DJs orcellists and brass. I’ll bet you a plate of the garganelli verde at Rolf & Daughters – or a Goo Goo Cluster – that Nashville is now one of the most culturally, creatively and professionally diverse cities in America.
When I began working for Electronic Arts in Los Angeles in 2001, I brought everything I learned in Nashville with me: How digital opportunities could forever change how we create, discover and experience new music. When the forging of new routes is more important than chasing trends. The ways in which art and commerce could – and should – honorably co-exist. And why a community that embraces collaboration, encourages originality and values relationships will always matter. A generation later, those of us who built careers and families here can say with pride that Nashville’s artistic and economic evolution directly corresponds to our own personal and professional growth.
That’s why I returned to Nashville to produce the majority of EA’s orchestral projects. In the past two years alone, EA Music has recorded scores for top-selling titles that include Star Wars: The Old Republic, FIFA, Dragon Age Inquisition, Mass Effect Andromeda and Madden NFL 17 and 18 here. My associates in games, television and movies has also discovered that they too can work with world-class orchestras in state-of-the-art studios, and have subsequently brought projects like Call Of Duty, Texas Rising, the most recent Tyler Perry movie and the new season of Fargo. All of these projects not only create better paying jobs for local musicians, engineers and studio employees, but also bring additional revenue to restaurants, hotels and more. The result is that Nashville is fast becoming a premier destination for composers, producers and musicians of every genre, while helping to establish and support a new music industry middle class.
Like so many of my colleagues – whether longtime friends or new neighbors – this is still where I want to be, because it feels like just the beginning. Every day, Nashville is proving that it can not only meet but also surpass all technical and creative expectations. More importantly, Nashville is the daily collective proof of music’s ability to transform our lives and our world.
Now more than ever, we are truly Music City, U.S.A.
Steve Schnur is Worldwide President of Music & Marketing for Electronic Arts (EA Games) and a songwriter at Sea Gayle Music. He studied music theory and composition at USC and NYU, was VP of Marketing for Arista Nashville, and an adjunct professor of music business at Belmont University. Steve has been a board member of the Country Music Association, served as both Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of the Grammy Foundation, and is currently on the board of City Of Hope, MLS2 Nashville and the TN Governor’s Interactive and Entertainment Commission Advisory Council. A New Jersey native, he is proud to live in Nashville, Tennessee.