The Nashville Effect and Growing the Local Scene by Getting Out of Town

YOU can help grow the local scene!

Sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it?  Well, it would be if that is the ONLY thing you did…you wouldn’t be local!  That’s obvious.  What I mean is in addition to playing live locally, showing up at the shows of other bands to support them, starting a collection of local music, or getting that artist collective started – the best thing you can do to shed light on our scene is to show up in another scene.

I’ll try to make this as simple as possible without going too in-depth:

1.  Build a local following (It doesn’t have to be large)

2.  Contact like-minded bands in other cities to “show trade”

3.  Open for them and return the favor by bringing them to your town to open for you (this is the show trade)

You guys know what a show trade is, I’m not trying to preach the obvious.  However, have you really ever thought about the benefits to our local music scene when you do this?

Been to the Dock or the Keys lately?  The Andy Shaw Band and Skilless Villains make the trips from Columbus and Dayton on the regular because they now LOVE playing in Chillicothe.

What does that do for me Dave?

It does a ton for you.  The main reason being that having a more reputable scene behind you means you get taken more seriously when you call a venue.  I call this The Nashville Effect.

I could do nothing more than live in Nashville, write songs, and busk on the street all day and when I call most venues to say “I’m a Nashville based singer/songwriter” a lot of venues are going to take me more seriously than if I was a “Toledo based songwriter.” Because the Nashville scene is WAY more reputable.  I know that is the extreme, but it can happen for us in Chillicothe.  Nashville didn’t come out of the womb churning out hits 😉

So get out of town already.  If you are not expecting to make some cash, then it’s really not that hard to get into a venue out of town.  Heck, you can’t play every week in Chillicothe anyway or else you’ll wear out your welcome and no one will want to come see you.

Below are some venues for you to start with.  You can either try to get in yourself or message their regular bands for a show trade.  I would opt for the show trade – you’ll get in MUCH faster.  In some cases, you could be hunting these venue owners down for a year or more JUST TO GET THEM ON THE PHONE.

  1. Scarlet and Grey Cafe – Columbus
  2. Oldfield’s on High – Columbus
  3. The Treehouse (formerly Andymans’) – Columbus
  4. Jackie O’s – Athens
  5. Canal Street Tavern – Dayton
  6. Trolley Stop – Dayton
  7. The Empty Glass – Charleston, WV
  8. Stanley’s Pub – Cincinnati
  9. Merry Arts Pub – Lakewood
  10. Coffee Amici – Findlay

Hope that helps.  I’ll talk more about touring strategy in another post.  In the meantime, start contacting these venues and shoot me an email at if you need any help/advice.  Good luck!

Let’s conntect on Twitter:  @davemhuffman

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2 Comments on “The Nashville Effect and Growing the Local Scene by Getting Out of Town”

  1. Keith Mohr Says:

    Great advice! I tell indies in my tribe to do this and very few do. I guess they think its too much work.. Well, duh! getting off the couch is too much work for some of em!

  2. Ha…I hope I don’t come across as saying “Duh!” with this though. It’s not my intention to bash – plus, I don’t think it is totally obvious that getting out of town actually builds your own scene. Most bands think of getting out of town in terms of building their FOLLOWING.

    I think what most fail to realize is that by promoting the scene itself, you indirectly promote yourself – and in that case everybody wins.

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