Known for its fried chicken and barbecue, Nashville, Tennessee is perhaps most notably the country music capital of the world. It is less recognized however, that the city that produces some of the biggest country music stars, also harbors the likes of Meghan Trainor, The Black Keys and many of the brightest songwriters and producers in the industry. That is until now.
The Other Nashville Society, or TONS, would like nothing more than to re-brand the city, so rich in artistry and music culture, to be inclusive of all genres from pop to EDM, hip hop to classical and even christian music. It is in fact, with that mission in mind that five friends joined forces in July of 2017 to create a society that would serve as a gathering place for the non-country music community in Nashville.
“Our mission is to come along side creators and business advocates to provide a space where everyone can find each other, learn together, and create FROM Nashville together.” Co-founder Ally Venable told us.
It’s a society that celebrates the diversity of music and its creation. After only six months its members include leaders from Live Nation, music supervisor’s from NBC Universal, as well as multi-platinum selling, Grammy award-winning recording artists, as well as writers and producers for Lil Wayne, Beyonce and Pitbull. And that is just the tip of the iceberg!
“Our first launch party we had over 400 attendees. We were all baffled and excited at the same time!” Venable relayed. We sat down with Ally and she graciously shared TONS’ story with us and their plans for 2018! With such an enthusiastic beginning and explosive membership that includes the music industries elite, we are eager to spread the word to you and widen the network of this incredible group of talent!
The Feature Story: Let’s start at the beginning. What is the story behind the five of you meeting and teaming up to create The Other Nashville Society (TONS)?
Ally Venable: Once my friend Josh Cullom and I realized we had a similar passion about drawing more attention to the alternative scene here in Nashville, we decided to recruit three other TONS Co-Founders that we both knew: Katie Fagan (Prescription Publisher), Mark Abromowitz (Kobalt Publisher), & Holley Maher (Singer-Songwriter / Graphic Designer). Josh had already masterminded a brilliant business plan so we all met and just did the thing! Obviously there’s a lot of hard work that goes into these type of organizations and events, but it all felt very serendipitous and timely in our individual lives as well as for Nashville as a whole.
TFS: In your own words, how would you ultimately summarize the mission of TONS?
AV: Our mission is to come along side creators and business advocates to provide a space where everyone can find each other, learn together, and create FROM Nashville together.
TFS: Tell me more about how an artist or industry professional can join TONS ? Is it by invitation only, or can anyone who qualifies join?
AV: Anyone can apply on our website. Applications will be screened by the founders to ensure you’re truly active in some sort of alternative music scene here in Nashville.
TFS: Any plans for collaborations of TONS associates to host music events?
AV: Absolutely! We have a lot of plans in the works and are also eager to partner with some of our members on ideas they want to bring to life.
TFS: I understand you do some networking via events that bring together members for what’s been called matchmaking on a professional level. How are these events sponsored? How often do you host them?
AV: We have been very lucky to have incredible sponsors like CD Baby, Regions and Stem, to name a few who have believed in our message from the beginning. It’s been cool to see these companies come beside us either financially or by hosting an event as it truly seems to benefit everyone. What other way can you have access to this ‘underground’ movement in Nashville all in one place? It’s a great source for new partnerships and collaborations. We typically host around four mixers a year and three to four TONS Talks.
TFS: What are your plans to network and promote the association in 2018?
AV: 2017 was all about establishing and spreading the initial idea of the organization. Now we’re really excited to have 2018 be more about our members and letting them carry our flag in Nashville and other places organically!
TFS: I understand you’ve met with encouraging success since the launch of TONS in July 2017. That doesn’t sound like that has been the difficult part. Can you elaborate on the challenges you’ve met as individuals, and now as founders of this association, to expand Nashville’s brand to be more inclusive of the other genres?
AV: Well, we all have full time gigs [laughs]. So the balance of launching a new project and handling all the fun details that go into it can definitely be a challenge to juggle. However, I do feel as if it’s benefited all of the founders individually in that we have another conversation point to continue and grow our businesses. It’s pretty inspiring to be part of this new community and encourage others to join in.
TFS: What are some of the valuable connections and successes you’ve seen in your first six months as an association?
AV: Our first launch party we had over 400 attendees. We were all baffled and excited at the same time! Among our members, we have Grammy award-winning songwriters & producers, representatives for some of the biggest acts in the world, and a large number of music tech companies that are doing things a new way (which we’re obviously all about).
TF: Any other information you would like to share that my questions didn’t cover?