THE WALLS that once separated roles within the Music industry have mostly fallen, and traditional gatekeepers now wield less control, said Shelby Kennedy, a denizen of Music Row now representing TuneCore, in Nashville and beyond.
Brooklyn-based TuneCore is the venture-backed 'Label as a Service' that distributes digital music and helps songwriters obtain royalties, and which is looking to add features, services, partners and possibly capital, as VNC reported Sept. 25.
The disruptive force of technologies, including TuneCore's, means that everyone in the industry needs "to wear more than one hat," and must turn to resources such as TuneCore in making the most of an increasingly complex business environment, said Shelby Kennedy, TuneCore's recently appointed VP-Entertainment Relations.
Today, said Kennedy, new Music entrants and established artists, alike, must operate autonomously to devise and implement business strategies.
Fortunately, Creatives and Music-business startups may have an advantage in being based in Nashville as they seek to thrive amid the tumult, he added. After all, in a sense, the Nashville Music scene has always been driven by the focusing of creative energies toward "building things that weren't there" until conceived by a singer, songrwiter, publisher or others, he said.
As a result, Nashville is "a creator's heaven," Kennedy told VNC. Moreover, the city is now a nexus for the full spectrum of musical genres, as well as for video and other forms of entertainment.
Kennedy's LinkedIn profile documents a career spanning self-owned writing and publishing, writer-publisher relations, membership, A&R, artist development, song plugging, background singing, entertainment operations management and other roles within ASCAP, BMI, Lyric Street (Disney) and his own Porch Pickin' Publishing, among others.
Songwriter brother Bryan Kennedy's website tells of the brothers' careers, as well as those of their recording-artist mother, the late Linda Kennedy, and their musician-songwriter father, Jerry Kennedy, now retired in the Nashville area.
Kennedy's new role? "I'm going to be a bridge, both ways," said Kennedy, adding, "I need to really have big ears to hear what services they're craving," and then convey that intelligence to colleagues developing new TuneCore offerings.
Many of the most creative publishers are virtually operating as labels, already, he said. They can take artists to the market's equivalent of "the Superdome," without "waiting for one of the majors to bless the talent they are working with," said Kennedy.
Many publishers still think of TuneCore as mainly serving the "self-released artist," but Kennedy said he has found since joining the company in August that when he updates most publishers on the breadth and evolution of the TuneCore platform, they quickly see its value for groups beyond the fledgling artist. Kennedy's office is on 17th Avenue South (Music Square West), in the heart of the traditional Music Row.
The complexity of the new Music ecosystem means that Kennedy, himself, must reach out to all segments -- artists, A&R (artists & repertoir), producers, publishers and others in Nashville, while building or expanding vital relationships in Los Angeles and other centers.
Though universities might seem a surprising target, Kennedy noted that Nashville's Belmont University Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business has thousands of Music business-minded enrollees. Belmont is also home to Bear House Writer Management. Kennedy is a 1985 graduate of Belmont.
VNC also notes that on Sept. 24, Nashville's Lipscomb University announced its commitment to creating a College of Entertainment and the Arts.
The new college will combine Lipscomb's art, music and theatre departments with its fashion merchandising program and its graduate film and creative media program. VNC