Ayear-long study of the music industry in the Shoals has sounded an oft-mentioned shortcoming — the need for a more unified effort to build upon the elements that make this area so unique.
We’ve all heard that criticism before, most recently in the pages of a Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama study entitled “A Greater Shoals: A Pathway.” The executive summary of the PARCA study had this to say about the fragmentation it found in the Shoals:
“The Shoals is again at a moment of unparalleled opportunity, but it is one that will require cross-community cooperation to capitalize on.” The summary added that “communities that engage in counterproductive competition … put themselves at a disadvantage.”
The findings of the Music Cities Study released on Monday night echoed PARCA’s warning.
The message was loud and clear: Shoals communities must work together to overcome some of the weaknesses that are hindering what PARCA called an “unprecedented opportunity” to boost interest in the Shoals.
Glenn Rosenstein, a record producer who worked on the renovations of FAME’s Studio B, told the crowd gathered at Swampers Bar & Grill at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa that stronger leadership is needed to tie all the pieces together.
“What I would like to see is more unity in the community, more drive, somebody to actually take hold and connect all of these amazing pieces we’ve been gifted with and make it one unified thing,” he said.
Hip-hop artist/producer Geoffrey “GMANE” Robinson said: “We need leadership to get behind what we’re doing and put some money into it. This is a great place and could be even better.”
It makes financial sense for everyone to get aboard the unity train. The Music Cities Study showed that currently, the music industry contributes $49 million to the Shoals economy, and is responsible for 479 jobs.
Imagine what the impact could be if the movers and shakers in the music industry followed PARCA’s suggestion to pool its resources and invest its energy into a cooperative effort to maximize the benefits of a “wave of interest in the Shoals historic and contemporary contributions to American music.”
“It will take the community to come together to make it happen,” FAME Recording Studios President and General Manager Rodney Hall said. “If anything in the area that can bring us together, it’s music.”
Let’s hope Hall is right and this study doesn’t just become another document collecting dust on a shelf in someone’s office.