With a moniker like “Music City,” you’d think that Nashville would be kind to music makers regardless of where they ply their trade. That’s not the case though, as the city wields an ordinance that not only forbids home recording studios but all home-based businesses to have clients on their premises. That includes the hairstylist trying to cut hair from home, the accountant consulting on your taxes, and the piano teacher showing your daughter the basics.
A group of Nashville residents led by home studio owner Lij Shaw have been fighting the ordinance for 5 years though, and they’re now within one final City Council vote of having the ordinance changed. This vote takes place on Tuesday July 7th.
The Fight Begins
Shaw, who’s worked with John Oates, Jack White, Wilco, Adele, and the Zac Brown Band, began his fight back in 2015 after receiving a cease and desist order from Nashville Metro Codes stating he was violating a zoning ordinance against operating a commercial recording studio in his residence. Of course Nashville, being the so-called “Music City, has a long-standing history of music being made in producer, engineer and artist residences that goes back decades, so the ordinance seemed to make little sense.
According to Shaw, “the code says that if you’re zoned as a residence, you’re able to work from home, but you’re not allowed to actually have a customer come over in the process.” Creating and recording music requires collaboration (as well as message therapy, teaching piano and host of other home-based businesses), so this ordinance was seen as completely out of date. Shaw decided to fight to save his livelihood instead of accepting the ordinance blindly.
The Legal Journey
In the process, he picked up support from both the Institute For Justice and the Beacon Center of Tennessee for legal support. He also started a Change.org campaign that has gained about 165,000 signatures to date.
Shaw also picked up crucial support from Nashville City councilman Dave Rosenberg who introduced a new bill called BL2019-48 which would provide relief for home businesses in the city and allow them to actually do business with clients on the premises.
That brings us today. The final vote of the new bill will take place on Tuesday July 7th. If you live in Nashville and wish to express your support, you can send an easy email to the City Council at BalanceNashville.org.
If you just wish to support the cause but you live outside the Nashville area, go to SaveHomeStudios.com to sign the petition.
You can also hear Shaw go into much more detail about the ordinance, new bill, and the petition in this podcast.
The world we live in has changed forever and more and more people will be making a living from home in the future. As long as the immediate community isn’t being disturbed (Shaw received 40 strong recommendations from his neighbors), Nashville need to support this cause, and every city needs to jump on board as well.