NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville is the place musicians flock to.
“It’s Music City,” said Brandon Giles. “It’s the Mecca of music.”
The Mecca of music is where Giles had to be 20 years ago.
“It was the same in 1980 as it was when I came in 2000. It was around $50 a man, and some of the places I think are still $50,” he said.
Giles says that’s how much it’s costing to perform on Broadway. After two decades of low pay and high cost of living, he finally decided to sell his home and move to the Gulf of Mexico area where the money is much better.
“I visited the Gulf Coast area and Floribama and some of the clubs down there, and they pay about double that,” Giles said.
The struggles Giles faced were all too similar for drummer Pat Sullivan.
“I had to travel and I said, ‘Well, if I’m going to travel then I might as well stay home when I come off the road in my hometown in Tate County.”
Sullivan has been performing for over 30 years but says he’s noticing musicians leaving for better opportunities. “A lot of my friends had to move from here to take road gigs or some buddy they knew from some way back has a gig out of town that they have to take to make a living to feed their family,” he said.
So are musicians leaving Music City? Well, it depends on who you ask.
“If they are leaving Nashville, they are being replaced by other ones coming in because the town is just booming and everything has come back I feel like,” said Cody Payne.
Payne is a music agent who says he’s seeing more musicians come here but understands performing on Broadway can come with challenges.
“Broadway is an incredible place to start, to cut your chops, and to really get into learning how to perform for people,” he said. “It’s an incredible place to do it but that is not the end goal.”
Payne says most agents and managers try to find better-paying venues for artists here in the city.
“At the end of the day you’re trying to grow an artist and you’re trying to grow an artist that’s going to eventually be putting good into the world. If you are nickel and diming them and taking pennies off dimes, what are you actually doing? Are you helping the artist or are you harming what they are trying to do?”
While Giles decided it was finally time to go, it’s up to the new artists whether they’ll choose to stick things out.
“Some will stay, some will leave,” he said. “The good ones will find a nitch and find a way.”