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James Rea has been holding intimate one-in-one interview events, known as “The Producer’s Chair,” with Nashville’s leading music Producer’s for 11 years, almost all of them from the stage of Douglas Corner, one of Nashville’s more enduring live-music clubs.

In that time, he’s had hit-making helmers like Dann Huff, Paul Worley, Dave Brainard, Scott Hendricks, Mark Bright, Doug Johnson, and others sitting in an outlandish chair that looks as if it fell off the truck when they were packing up “Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” A music venue was certainly an appropriate location, especially when Rea began the series, back when records still were at the top of the revenue hierarchy of music. He got to move the events into an actual recording studio last year, on Music Row. But for various reasons that didn’t work out for the long run.

But starting earlier this year, Rea moved his event into what might be the most appropriate location of all: an MI retail store. Since then, The Producer’s Chair has been taking place in the 100-seat space at the rear of World Music, a 16-year-old shop on Nashville’s far west side that new owners took over a year ago.

There, Rea is also able to record audio and video of the interviews, which will eventually be made available online.

“You’re surrounded by musical instruments from the moment you walk into the store until you enter the performance space, and it just feels right,” he says.

A Place To Hang Out

For World Music COO Denny Sanders, who moved to Nashville from Los Angeles last year and with partners bought the story from founder Larry Faragalli in September 2016, it also feels right. He had spent over 20 years working as a tour manager, for artists including Ministry, Papa Roach, and Giant.

When Rea brought Giant guitarist-turned-producer Dann Huff (whose production discography reaches from Megadeth to Faith Hill) in as the first Producer’s Chair interview at the store, it felt like pieces were falling into place.

“We’re not trying to be a nightclub, but rather a place to come and hang out,” says Sanders, for whom World Music is his first take at retail sales of any kind.

“But James’ event adds another dimension to what a store can be. And it has to be more than a store these days.”

Sanders cites competition from big box vendors and online outlets, which are bringing increased pressure on local MI retail everywhere. He sees incorporating The Producer’s Chair events into World Music’s agenda as a natural fit, part of an itinerary for the store’s performance space – which is named, simply and aptly, the Venue. It’s where the store’s 450 music students can do a recital for parents one day and then come to see live music that evening. They can learn recording and then outfit their home studios from the same place.

And they can listen as world-class record Producer’s talk about their craft. Sanders has even applied for a beer license for the store. “We’re getting to the point where people may never have to leave the store,” he laughs.

Rea says beyond the vibe the store confers on his events, it also brings a staff that can not only sell guitars but also document the larger process of how music is made. “For instance, the person World Music has managing the venue and its productions, Mike Green, had worked in network television for years,” he says.

After Producer’s Chair events, in a guitar-strewn room off the side of the performance space, visitors are asked on camera to relate what they were taking away from the interviews.

“The experience has a more polished, produced feel to it,” he says.

World Music and The Producer’s Chair are a good fit, but they also underscore how MI retail is becoming – and should become – more of marketplace, place where ideas are exchanged and interactions experienced beyond the transactional level.

“We want to sell guitars and drums, but we also want to create an environment that draws people in around music,” says Sanders. “The Producer’s Chair is one of the unique things that we can have on our menu.”



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