I moved to Nashville, TN from Sacramento, CA in 2013 with the intention of advancing my recording studio knowledge and business. I was writing songs and playing guitar in a band called Golden Youth (that I had produced) at the time. Our label had us fly to Nashville for a showcase show and we fell in love with the city! So 2 months later, we all collectively and impulsively moved to Nashville! This is probably one of the more bold decisions I have made in my life.
After living in Nashville for a year I decided it was time to take the next life step. Find a house in East Nashville, renovate it, and turn it into a studio. Seems like a great idea. You can work from home and only have one mortgage that pays for your living space and music space. After searching for a while I found my current house. It had a 1,000 sqf walkout basement that I could build into a studio. And over the next year, in between touring, thats exactly what I did. The basement was pretty rough and murder like at first…
After a year (and extra time for detail work) I had finished the basement and started to record my first artists for pay!!! I had charged in CA, but it was more of a hobby job which was reflected in the hobby price. After some initial investments in my trident console, some good monitors, and some room treatment I was well on my way.
I should back up and give you some behind the scenes info. We have a neighbor that lives across the street who absolutely hates street parking. Over the years we have learned that he calls the police multiple times a week for cars parking on our street even though it is completely legal. If we have a dinner party or friends just hanging out, we could always bet that there would be a visit from an officer saying he was required to come over, but that we were well within our rights to park on the street. Fast forward 4 years….
Our disgruntled neighbor has called the police and metro codes (with fines) on our house and many others on the street for various harmless reasons. Example: a sign on a front lawn that was too close to the edge of the property, wood left out overnight in the middle of a construction project, parking on too little gravel, etc. All the while his house is a dilapidated eye sore. It just doesn’t make sense?!?! :rant over::
Tired of various street parking, our neighbor found a rule in the city code book that says you are not aloud to run a business out of your home without a special permit called a “Home Occupancy Permit.” This permit allows you to run a business with one employee from your home. However, you are not allowed to serve clients on the property. Business such as recording studios, hair salons, therapists, cannot have people over to the home in a financial capacity. What does that mean? It means no recording studios out of homes in Nashville… The City Of Music!
The most well known example of this case is with producer Lij Shaw (Death Cab For Cutie, Mumford and Sons, Jack White, Adele) who was shut down because a neighbor did not like the idea of a studio being there. Several law suits and proposals to change this plan have been put to the city with no results. Here is some further reading on the matter if you would like to know more…
What I can say to my fellow engineers and producers is… Protect yourself! If you have put in 10s of thousands of dollars into your home studio and a neighbor complains to the city, make sure you acquire the “Home Occupancy Permit” just in case. This will help you not get fined for having any sort of business in your home. And make sure you are delightful to your neighbors so it doesn’t have to reach that point. Be careful about street parking or loud music late at night. I personally only work 9-5 and still somehow my neighbor was able to shut me down entirely.
Fortunately, my wife and I are able to move the business to a separate facility. But that may not be the case for all home producers. This is a major financial adjustment and all because of one elderly neighbor has a vengeance for any change on the street! We are so happy to have other good neighbors that have supported us from the beginning. Thanks Good Neighbors!