Entertainment Education

Saturday November 5th, 2011 – Nashville, TN

Just because I’m not the center of attention in Nashville this week doesn’t mean it needs to be written off as a wasted trip. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can absolutely be smart and use my time to learn something. Nashville is an entertainment hub, and even if I don’t particularly enjoy the country genre, there are lessons to be learned everywhere.

All entertainment towns have the same dynamic. There are precious few spots at the top but there are countless hoards of faceless masses chasing them. Whether it’s Los Angeles for film actors, rock bands and comedians or New York for Broadway entertainers – it’s a crapshoot. There are many factors that determine success, talent being way down the list.

Improvisers flock to Chicago from all over to be part of the scene there, and Nashville’s niche is country music performers and songwriters. Country music is a gigantic influence on middle America. I learned that when I worked in country radio, and I respect all those who have overcome the odds. Any field of entertainment is difficult, so kudos to them all.

I took another walk downtown today to explore the scene some more. It was a beautiful sunny day and Broadway was packed with people with cameras from all over gawking at the tourist attractions. There was a real buzz, and I tried to focus on what I could learn.

One place that really stuck out was the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. One of the reasons is ‘Ernest Tubb’ is a funny name. I’ve heard of him since I was a very young child because I had a wacky aunt who loved his music. That alone made me never want to hear any of it.

I still couldn’t name even one of his songs, but you can bet your cowboy hat and big old belt buckle I’ll soon know a lot more about him. That guy was a big time marketer and an outstanding showman, and I’m now a fan. It doesn’t matter if I like his music, I like HIM.

His store has been open since 1947. There are a couple of locations, but I saw the main one and it was dripping with country music history. There were early 8×10 photos of the greats like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn, and there were also many I’d never heard of.

There was a great photo of Ernest himself holding his guitar upside down with the word ‘THANKS’ written on the back. What a simple gimmick, and I’m sure crowds went crazy with applause when he’d flip it over. That’s very memorable, and would work just as well for someone else today. If Slash started doing it, his fans wouldn’t know where he got it.

What interested me even more was the mail order side of the business. I picked up their catalog, and it’s a twelve page shiny flyer that sells every country CD and DVD I’ve ever heard of, and a lot more that I haven’t. Ernest died in 1984, but his brand is still kicking.

He also had a great nickname ‘The Texas Troubadour’. Everything about him had a ring to it, and I’m sure that wasn’t by accident. I’m going to study his history and reallocate as much as I can for my own brand. King of Uranus – ‘The Terrestrial Troubadour‘? Hmm.


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