Behind the Headlines – September 8, 2017

Behind the Headlines – September 8, 2017


– (female announcer)
Production funding for Behind the Headlines is made possible in part by
the WKNO Production Fund, the WKNO Endowment Fund
and by viewers like you. Thank you. – The business of Memphis music, tonight, on Behind
the Headlines. [dramatic orchestral music] I’m Eric Barnes, Publisher
of the Memphis Daily News, thanks for joining us. I’m joined tonight by
Kevin Kern, Vice President, Memphis Convention
and Visitor’s Buruea. Thanks for being here. – Glad to be here. – Pat Mitchell Orley,
Founder of FanfareCR. Thanks for being here. Megan Carolan is
a local musician, and many other things in the
local Memphis music scene. Elizabeth Cawein, Founder
of Music Export Memphis. Thank you all for being here. So, I wanted to
show, for a while, things going on
with Memphis music, and you can I got to
talking somewhere. So I think the easiest thing, cause all of you wear many hats in terms of music in Memphis, and the business
of it and so on. I’ll just go around and
let you kind of describe, and in part because it started with the conversation we had
about Music Export Memphis. Talk about your involvement, and talk about what
the organization is, and we’ll do that
with everybody. – Sure, so Music Export Memphis is essentially an export
office for Memphis music. It’s modeled after the
international export strategy. You see countries around
the world that do this, that export their music and create opportunities
for musicians. And so I felt that that
was a scalable model, and I wanted to execute
it on a city level. So, about two years ago, in partnership with
the Chamber initially, I launched Music Export Memphis, and actually, just
recently we’re officially chartered as a
non-profit organization. So, we essentially exist
to create opportunities for musicians to
showcase their music, and hopefully in doing that, drive results in music tourism, economic development, and bringing awareness of
Memphis across the board. Prior to that, and sort
of still along side that, for about six years now, I’ve
had my own music PR agency called Signal Flow, working with Memphis
musicians exclusively and also music and
tourism, music business, music non-profits as well. – All right, and we’ll dig
into a bunch more of that as we go, but I’ll
go to you, Kevin, from the point of view of the Convention
and Visitor’s Bureau, I mean this is a
big tourism draw, there’s economic impact
across the board. Talk a little bit about that. – Of course it is. I mean the Memphis Convention
and Visitor’s Bureau, our job is to bring
visitors to Memphis. Our brand is music. I mean, the tagline, Memphis,
birthplace of Rock N Roll, Home of the Blues. Tourism itself is a three
billion dollar plus industry in this city, so of course music has a
tremendous economic impact. It is Elvis, it’s B.B. King, it’s blues, rock, soul that’s
bringing folks to this town, so, three billion
dollars for tourism means that three billion
dollars for music as an economic
impact in our city, because that is the
main drawing point. – All right, and again,
we’ll dig in to more of that, but Pat, we talked
before the show about how to introduce you, and which of your many
hats we would lead with. We led with FanfareCR,
talk about the scope and the many different
ways, Beale Street Caravan, that you’re involved
with Memphis music, and have been involved. – Okay, well FanfareCR
really focuses on working with
arts organizations, not specifically
music organizations, but Memphis Slimhouse
is one of my clients. I went from a consulting role, now I’m on the advisory
board for the organization, and it’s a community
center for musicians, and it allows them
an opportunity to not only collaborate,
but to learn about the business of music. So, as a part of Slimhouse,
there are members, the space serves as
a rehearsal space, it serves as a place where
artists can come together and they can go in
and record a demo, or they can host an event there. Then, there are a lot
of educational forums, workshops that we do there. Also, Memphis Slimhouse
has a loan program that offers, it’s
the only loan program specifically targeted
for musicians in the City of Memphis. And it offers them
a 5% interest rate, which is phenomenal, and if
they’re from the neighborhood it’s a 3%
interest rate, and that allows
artists to borrow money to help their
career move forward. And it’s up to $10,000, so it’s really
helpful for artists to be able to go
out and get capital, because it’s hard for
them to walk into a bank and ask for a loan based on, you know, just based on what, hey, here are my royalties,
what does that mean. So, there’s that piece. Then, I also serve on the
board of the recording academy, our chapter, the
Memphis chapter, goes from Memphis, Saint Louis,
New Orleans are included. And I chair, well,
fortunately I chair educational development
for musicians and for the music industry. So, as a part of that,
it’s creating events and opportunities for artists and for the industry
to learn more about all this crazy change
that’s moving at a record pace in the music industry, every
day there’s something new. And so, that part
as a volunteer, then I also host
Beale Street Caravan, which is a globally
syndicated roots radio program that’s out of Memphis, and
we record artists live, we’re magazine formatted, and
we do a lot of Memphis music. – Okay, and again, all that
we can keep going in to, but Megan I’ll bring you in. I introduced you as a musician, you also work in Marketing
at New Memphis Institute, and you’re a board member
of the new organization that Elizabeth. What else have I missed, in terms of connections
to Memphis music? – Well, I previously
met Elizabeth and Pat through the Memphis
Music Foundation, which was my first internship
ever, here in Memphis. And, I just came up here
to Memphis for music, I’m originally
from Pennsylvania, but I moved here seven years ago to study at the
University of Memphis. Studied Music Business there, and just really got
involved and ingrained in the music
community since then. – And you’re a performing
musician as well. And what instruments you play? You play locally, you’ve played
around the world, I think, am I right about that,
or am I screwing that up? – Yes, when I toured
Germany and Austria with the University
of Memphis Choir, and locally I usually do
singer songwriter stuff. It’s more like
singing and guitar, and I also play ukulele, because I work with the
Memphis Ukulele Band. – Memphis is known for it’s
ukulele playing, obviously. – Yes, there’s a
ukulele scene here. – Yeah, okay. Kevin, I go back to you,
in terms of you previously, you’ve actually been
with the CVB for what, we just talked about
that, three months? – A little over 90 days. Just had that review. – Before that you were with
Elvis Presley Enterprises. – I sure was, for
12 1/2 years, with Elvis Presley
Enterprises, and of course, you know, Graceland
is the cornerstone of our tourism industry, it
was the jumping off point for this becoming
and industry in 1982. Beale Street was still
boarded up and coming back and our city was in
the midst of a rebirth, and it’s been great to
see our city progress. But you know, Elvis is a
part of our music identity. Some people still
don’t embrace Elvis, but other people know
Elvis around the world. You can get in the back of
a cab in Budapest, Hungary and say I’m from Memphis and
they know where you’re from because of Elvis Presley. So, he’s a big part
of our music brand and he’s bringing
folks to our town, as have the legendary blues
music of Beale Street, Rock and Soul, it’s the
basis of our industry. It’s our city’s identity. You know, we have the FedEx’s
and Saint Jude’s, but people come here for
that music experience, because we’ve got so much
rich culture and history here, and it’s rooted in our music. – It is interesting. I mean, people
lose sight of that, about what you just
said about Memphis and that name, and if
you’ve traveled around and you say you’re from Memphis, it has a kind of cache,
it has this sort of, some people here,
and we talk a lot about the legitimate problems
in Memphis on the show, whether education or
it’s crime or whatever, issues that all cities
in America have, but you know, that
negativity about Memphis, outside of Memphis it is
funny to get into a cab, it is funny to be
in a restaurant and say you’re from Memphis. Talk about how your organization
sort of plays on that, and talks about
promoting Memphis music and exposing Memphis music to
other parts of the country. – Yeah, and the world. I mean, actually we just
produced a songwriter’s exchange with Liverpool, where we
had two Memphis artists, two Liverpool artists,
who came together across two weekends of
activity in both cities. When we went to Liverpool
and did our finale concert, I mean the people that we met
the entire time we were there, not just at that event,
the appreciation that they have
for Memphis music, and frankly, what
I always love, the knowledge that they have of Memphis music
is so deep as well. It’s really, really refreshing. If anybody ever sort of
feels down on the city, I recommend you travel,
just go a few hundred miles, but certainly a couple
thousand will help as well, because people outside
of this city know and appreciate Memphis music. And it’s always
refreshing to me. Actually, I went to graduate
school in England, too, so I was around people
who constantly who just, I said I was from
Memphis and it was like I whipped out my cool card. Like, they just thought that
was the coolest thing ever. And I think that
that’s something that we’re able to capitalize
on, in reality, right. – It very much comes, not from, I mean there’s nothing
wrong with Saint Jude, or these other organizations, it comes from the music, right? – Absolutely, but I think, too, there is something that is
really, really ingrained, and the music is a
big piece of that, but you look across
the cool things that come from Memphis,
outside the music sector. We’re DIYers, we’re
entrepreneurs, we start things,
we invent things, that’s true across the board, we can come up with
a million examples. First, originals
come from Memphis, and that’s really, really
true and really rich in music, but I think what makes an
export strategy so easy to me, in some ways, and so smart, is that people outside
our city love our music. And that, you know,
artists who are going on tour who live in Memphis,
they’re already saying that they’re from
Memphis when they go out, because it’s a part
of their identity and it’s something that
really can build connection between them and an audience, because people love our music. – From the point of view
of Beale Street Caravan, which is, again, global, right? That connection of Memphis
music and the identity that people have with it. – Yes, the show, when
the show started out, it was more of a
blues based show, and it’s interesting, because
there were so many directions that we could go in. But now, we’ve focused
in because we recognize that there’s so
much talent here, and we really need
to help them get out and let the world hear them. So, it’s funny when you’re, you know, radio is
this magic world where you don’t know
if anyone’s listening as you put the show out there. And to have an
artist from Memphis get feedback from
Siberia, or from Japan and New Zealand, Australia,
or around the country, it’s always really interesting that people latch on to that. And they have a response to it. It’s like a love us or
hate us kind of thing, we get something out of you. Memphis gets
something out of you, our music gets a reaction. And so, the show has
been fortunate enough that we have a fan base
and we have radio stations around the world that
are playing the show and that’s what they want. They want to hear about Memphis, they hear what’s from Memphis. We want to hear the real thing, what are the locals doing? What are the locals
listening to? And then, also, when
you’re here people are like oh yeah, I just
go see that band, they’re a dime a dozen,
bands are everywhere. You know, that’s sort of
the different reaction, because we’re so used to it. We’re so spoiled by it. – Right. From your point of
view as a person who’s probably the
newest to Memphis, I mean, at this table. You came to
University of Memphis, your thoughts on that,
your thoughts on, again, it was Music Business, but your thoughts as an outsider for lack of a better word. You know, you’ve been
here seven years now, but on that appeal and the
attraction of Memphis music. – So, what really brought me
first to Memphis was music. That’s why I came to Memphis. I wanted to go to
college in a city that had a music scene
and music industry, and Memphis drew me here. And once I got
here, it was amazing because it’s one of the coolest,
best things about Memphis is that, I was reading in
textbooks music history, and about different
things that happened. But when I got to Memphis I could actually
meet these people. They were here, and
they wanted to teach me and they wanted to pass
along their knowledge. So, that was the
most amazing thing. My dad’s a musician, too,
and I was telling him about all the people I
was meeting, I was like “Oh, I met this guy named Al
Bell at the Grammy event.” And he’s like what? Oh my God. – People don’t realize, I mean
it’s not just true of music, this is a city where you can
meet people real quickly. It’s a big small town, and
it’s interesting to hear that about the music
industry as well. You know, certainly in
the business community and the political community. You can just meet people with a little bit of
effort on some level. It’s very strange that way. – Our one degree of
separation that we have. – Right, right, the one
degree of separation. Back to you, Kevin. Elvis Presley
Enterprises, Graceland, obviously huge investments
they’re putting in. Your thoughts on that from, you talk about people
who, or you alluded to some people maybe
haven’t embraced Elvis. But clearly, and I heard with
the most recent Death Week and all the celebration,
all the activities that were going on. – (Kevin)
Elvis Week. – Elvis Week. Sorry, sorry,
sorry, sorry, sorry. 22 years, I’ll
get it right soon. That Elvis Week,
people talking about well, I can’t believe,
how long can this last? How long can this former
star hold this appeal, but clearly Elvis
Presley Enterprises believes there’s
no end in sight, given the amount of
money they’re investing, this new arena
they’re talking about. – Nobody invests over
$130 million without any research. So, it shows that the
potential is there to grow the visitor numbers, to bring even more
people to Memphis. That is our goal as
a city, as a county, as an organization as
the Memphis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. And Graceland sees
that potential, and so that’s a major investment that will continue to
build their numbers. You know, now on an average
of 600,000 annually, to increase that. And, you know, a
good chunk of that is coming from international, about 20% of their
visitorship is international. There are other American
cities that would love to have that many international
visitors coming here. And that’s our brand. Our global brand is music. There are a lot of great
assets in this community. But music is our identity. Has been and probably
always will be, because we are still generating
great music in this city. We’re a great live
music scene today. We have the Boo
Mitchells of the world, creating Grammy
Award winning hits, right here in our own backyard. So, music continues and
Elvis will always be with us, long after everybody
at this table is gone they’ll still be
talking about Elvis. – It’s interesting,
too, I mean some news, and I don’t have Bill Dries
here today to fact check me, so I’m just gonna go
ahead and screw this up. – (Kevin)
Go for it. – But, with Elvis
Presley Enterprises proposing this new arena
of 5,000 ish seat arena, they came out, they spoke to
county commission this week about it not being something
that’s gonna compete with the FedEx Forum,
it’s gonna fill the space. It’s essentially
gonna compete with, and I think we talked
on the show recently, with the Landers Center
down in DeSoto County. But it was interesting to hear, I can’t remember his name,
I wish Bill were here, from the person from
Elvis Presley Enterprises, about trying to do more
local musicians there, trying to do, not just
bring in traveling acts, but have more of a
connection to local music. – Right, you know I mean the whole purpose behind the new Visitor and
Entertainment Complex and Museum Complex called
Elvis Presley’s Memphis, is not only telling
the Elvis story, but the Memphis music story. Because that includes
Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B.
King, Aretha, you know, the list goes on and
on and on and on, and that’s part of our story. And people are not only
coming here for Elvis. People at Graceland
realize that, and that’s why Beale
Street is so important, that’s why Stacks and Son
are also so important, because our music as a whole continues to bring people
here and the desires to have more local acts that may feature whatever may come in the future,
but also what is there now, by showcasing our broad
range of musical influences in the city to the visitors that come each and every
day, including today. – Well, and again, we
talked about it recently. That arena could bring
Memphians down to Graceland in a way that, people say why, I don’t have any
interest in Elvis, I don’t have any interest
in going down to Graceland, that’s kind of a
tourist attraction, but I want to go see X Y
Z act, down at that area, and then they’ll see all
this kind of explosion of activity and
development down there. – Right, and I think
it’s valid, certainly, to talk about competition
between venues of similar size, but I also think that anytime
you introduce something new into the marketplace like that, it’s inevitably going to
bring people to your point who maybe have never come to
see a show of that size before. And so, if we can actually
create a new consumer by bringing new venues
into the marketplace, to me that’s a net win
for the entire industry. So, if we have more venues
that are going to potentially get someone out to a show,
who hasn’t come in ten years, who then may go, oh,
well, I like that act, I like that local band, I’d like to go see
more things like that. And if we can sort of,
sort of train the consumer based on a new option that
might get them excited, then sort of build momentum,
I think that’s a huge net win, not just for that particular
neighborhood or community, but for Midtown, for downtown,
for the entire city. – I want to go back to some of,
what you were talking about, a support of local musicians. It is not easy to be a musician, not everyone has hit records and makes a ton
of money off this. Even an artist, who, in this
new world of streaming music, it’s harder to make
money off albums, it’s hard to make
money as a musician. And, I’m curious,
when you talked about, say the organization,
Memphis Slim… – Memphis Slimhouse. – Memphis Slimhouse. Other groups that are out there, that are trying to support
what is a very difficult road, and what more can
be done, you know, to support local
musicians through, what does that entail? – Well, first of all, there
are a lot of organizations in Memphis that focus on music. Just in the non, as
far as non-profits go, there are over 30 of them. You know, and that goes
from the Memphis Symphony to the Memphis
Songwriter’s Association. So, between all of
those organizations, they have different
programs, you know, for the symphony, the opera,
the large arts organizations, they’re focusing
on creating work, and they’re employing musicians. And then, some organizations
help with the craft itself. Unfortunately for us, we don’t
have as many organizations that focus on the
business of music, which is what a lot
of artists here need. They’ll tell you that, I
can figure out my craft, I’ve got plenty of
teachers around me. And so, there’s
Memphis Slimhouse, there’s the Consortium, there is help through
the recording academy, and then you’ve got
a lot of programs that are working with youth, and those youth are learning, young people are
learning the business. More so than I say
the current generation of musicians that are
working across the city are. Through Stacks, the
Memphis Music Initiative, you know, they’re learning
the business of music. And that’s a piece
that’s been missing for the music industry, is
just that general education. If you don’t go to the
University of Memphis, and you know, get a
degree in Music Business, then how do you learn how
the music industry works? And a lot of our
musicians have done it through trial and error, and a lot of them have been able to go to places like Slimhouse. Before that, the Memphis
Music Foundation, and learn a little bit
about what’s going on in the global economy
as far as music goes, and the resources that
exist for artists here, I wish we had more,
in other cities that, you know, in other
cities you can go to an entertainment attorney
and if he likes your music, believes in your band,
thinks that you’re, you know, I can do something
with this artist, then he will put money
and invest in you and help you make it over
some of those hurdles. Or, you may have a
label that does that. You may have a publisher
that does that. And, since we don’t have
that strong foundation of infrastructure here, then artists have to
figure it out themselves. Or, they have people
like Elizabeth, and what the exporters do,
and what Signal Flow is doing, that helps them sort
of bridge that gap. How can I figure
out how to do this? They’ve become a lot more
savvy with crowd funding and finding other
ways to get income, but once again,
the Memphis Slim, you know, Slim’s front
loan is another piece that adds to that puzzle
of putting money together to grow this
entrepreneurial effort that you’re doing every day. That’s how you make money. – Yeah, Megan,
you’re point of view, as a musician and
somebody, I mean, like a lot of musicians
you have a day job. I’m sure you love your day job at the New Memphis Institute, but for many artists
of various types we’re talking about
in music today, they have to have a day job. I mean, what resources do
you wish were out there in Memphis for the
community of musicians? – Well, I really appreciate what Elizabeth’s
doing right now, because that was something
that was so needed in Memphis. Before, I have gone
to different festivals around the country, and
I’ve bumped into Elizabeth and Pat at South by
Southwest in Austin and saw what different
cities were doing for their musicians, including
like having export offices. Including doing
different research on how much music was
bringing to the local economy, and I’m so happy that
that’s happening right now, especially what
Elizabeth’s doing with the Music Export Memphis, because musicians,
music is definitely a wonderful thing in Memphis, but it’s not just the
past, it’s the future. And local musicians are
the future of Memphis. – Talk about South by Southwest. What all you did, was
that this past Spring? – Sure, in March
of 2017, this year, we did a day party, very
similar to what we’ve done at the Americana
Festival in Nashville, and we’ll be doing that
again actually, next weekend, coming up in September,
we’re doing that. So, we try to cram as
much Memphis into one day as we possibly can, and
the centerpiece of it is a line up of great music. So, we brought six
bands to Austin, and we presented a great event, we had a line around the door, we had more than
1,200 people there, representing 67 U.S.
cities, 17 countries, just that we were
able to survey. So, just a huge presence
of people there, taking in Memphis Music, and
getting to know Memphis, too, through partners like the
Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and New Memphis, we were
able to really talk to people about why Memphis is a
great place to visit, but also a great place to live. And that’s definitely
an interest point for us at Music Export Memphis as
well, is talent attraction. I believe that music is tool, creative economy is a tool, nightlife is a tool to get
people to move to a city. – Well, and you get to a point, say a city like Austin,
gets so expensive, that artists can’t live there. – (Elizabeth)
Exactly. – Nashville, a
lot of people say, is crossing this line where
it’s getting too expensive to live in Nashville, especially if you’re
a working musician, and so that appeal of a
lower cost city like Memphis, I mean that, and along with
all it’s history and so on, just the pure economics
of it are important to somebody who’s trying
to make a go of it. – (Elizabeth)
Cost of living’s a huge factor. – Yeah, and I want
to point out that, for Elizabeth’s role as far
as the export piece goes in Exporting Memphis
Music, Memphis has always exported music, we’ve
always had showcases at conferences, at
events, you know, around the country. The difference is
what she’s doing is that she’s
partnered with the CVB, she’s partnered
with the chamber. Instead of the music community
just talking amongst itself, instead of us saying, you
know telling the studio down the street that
we’re doing this event, or telling the record label, the independent label here
that we’re doing this event, this is what’s going on,
that’s also being broadcast to the business community,
and to the city in general, and it’s not just, I mean, I think that’s one
of the challenges that the music industry has had, is that people within
the music industry, we know what’s going on,
but we don’t communicate with the rest of the community, because there is so
much going on in Memphis at this point, you
know, just each of us could probably name something
that would blow your mind, as far as wow, that’s going
on in Memphis right now? And so, we just
don’t talk to people outside of our sector,
and that is changing, and it has to change in
order for the music sector to be seen as an integral
part of the Memphis economy. – And it truly is. I mean, you know, music
is the heart of this city. Always has been, always will
be, it’s a talking point we can say over and over again,
but it’s definitely true. And, music has its visibility,
as our greatest export. You know, home grown. This is a great incubator
for talent, for music, we’re creating culture. We are truly authentic,
here in Memphis, and that’s why we at the CVB also take Memphis
music on the road. Sometimes you have to take
that music on the road, and give a little
tease that says come to Memphis and hear
the rest of our story. And that’s what we’ve done
in partnering with Elizabeth, but also with all
sorts of organizations across Tennessee, Memphis
and the Southeast. You know, for
instance, Valerie June, another Memphis artist,
going to Australia, touring and promoting
Memphis and Tennessee as a music destination as well. So, those are things that we
are always actively doing, we’re investing in our
local music community to make sure that those
folks get a little taste of our music and come
back and experience, not only our music,
but the best barbecue on both sides of
the Mississippi. – All right, we’re
gonna leave it there, cause that is all
the time we have. Thank you all for being here, and thank you for joining
us, once again, next week.

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