Monday, 25 April 2011 14:51

Louisiana Music Industry On Wrong Note Compared To Nashville

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Louisiana Music Hall of FameToo often I hear the story of a Louisiana artist that has moved to Nashville to make the big time. And, in many cases, it works. Why shouldn't it, we have, arguably, the best and most musical talent anywhere.

Most recently, Hunter Hayes, a prodigy discovered as a child be the likes of Hank Williams Jr., has a new major label album and has been picked to open for Taylor Swift's new tour. Great going Hunter!

 Hunter, like our other Nashville transplant successes, absolutely deserves it. But why did he seemingly have to go to Nashville to get the success that he deserved? Is it just simply that Nashville is immensely successful and Louisiana isn't?

 Well, yes and no.

 Nashville is absolutely more successful than Louisiana, today. When Louisiana was producing Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, Allen Toussaint and on and on and on, Nashville wasn't doing much. When the Louisiana Hayride was rolling along, Nashville just didn't have that kind of momentum. So what happened?

 Simply, Nashville worked at developing an industry and an identity. The music industry of Nashville came together and worked together, by design. Sure there is contention and competition in Nashville, but there is also a "focus" on developing a successful industry. And why not? It certainly makes sense.


So, exactly why doesn't Louisiana just all step up and work together? Well, it's not quite that simple. Although, maybe, it should be and it certainly could be.


The successes of New Orleans Rock & Roll in the late Forties and Fifties was certainly, in part, due to artists working together. And, you know, they actually seemed to enjoy that aspect of the music business, working together.


It's not just that everybody should hug each other, but, maybe, everybody should consider a little teamwork. Teamwork is a good thing, even in the music business, especially in the music business.


Appreciation of the work of others is another good idea. Instead of being overly critical of others' music or work, how about a little positive reinforcement. Those on the outside of the business would probably respond positively to a little good vibes within Louisiana's music industry.


Positive, constructive criticism, now that's OK, as it generally offers up a better way of getting the job done, hopefully leading toward a better result.


Negative criticism, that is, criticism just for sake of being cool, or simply because someone wishes that they had "done that," now that's just plain negative and dumb. And, it shows those on the outside looking in the symptoms of a bad situation in general.


I've found, more than once, that the negative factors in the industry are generally negative for, well,  negative reasons. They either don't offer anything constructive past the criticism or are just criticizing because they don't want something done that they didn't do. And, in most of those cases, they either couldn't or wouldn't do it themselves anyway. So why criticize instead of helping?


And then there's leadership. Leadership is necessary for any team or industry to prosper and move in a positive direction. Positive leadership, that is. Leadership that is uniting and reinforcing, not fatalistic and divisive, leading and moving in a forward direction.


Until Louisiana's music community and state government seriously consider these easy concepts, we will continue to flounder without a viable music industry in Louisiana. We will continue to watch the flight of our artists to Nashville, LA, New York, etc.


We should be positioning ourselves as an industry to lure Nashville (and other) producers and studios to come to Louisiana, to work with our writers and artists here.


We have all the tools, raw materials, talent, climate, scenic beauty, food, everything except unity and positive focus.


Until that changes, we will continue to lose our artists, our musicians, our writers to the lure of music industry cities like Nashville.


Can we really afford to keep ignoring the half-developed industry that is right in front of us, waiting and wanting to blossom? It should actually cost less to develop the industry that we have actually already have and has actually succeeded on a global basis than to develop a new industry that we didn't ever have, like film.


Nothing against Louisiana's film industry, in fact, maybe they can be the catalyst to cause the development in Louisiana of a viable music industry. Who knows? It just could happen. 

Author Mike Shepherd is the President & Executive Director of La Musique de Louisianne Inc., The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, a 501c3 dedicated to "preserving Louisiana's greatest renewable natural resource"

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