After delay, home studio bill gets back on track in Council

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 11:51pm

After a nearly four-month delay, a bill essentially legalizing the home recording studio is advancing again after the Metro Council voted to approve it on second reading Tuesday night.

Home recording studios are, of course, quite common in Nashville. But they are not, strictly speaking, legal. Metro Codes restrictions on the amount of clients and customers coming and going from a residence make the typical operation of many home recording studios a violation of Metro law.

At-large council member Megan Barry introduced a bill in December to address the situation, which she said at the time “just doesn’t seem right.” However, after Dave Pomeroy, a longtime Nashville musician and current president of the Nashville Musicians Association, raised concerns about the specifics of the bill on behalf of the musicians union, Barry agreed to defer further action on the bill, vowing to work with all interested parties toward an agreeable framework.

Barry returned to the council Tuesday night with an amended version of the legislation, which she said had the support of the musicians union.

“We structured the substitute to address their concerns, and so they’re fine with it,” Barry told The City Paper.

While the bill had been written to apply to the home-based business portion of the Metro code, Barry explained that the new version makes home recording studios an accessory use, separate from other home occupations. By doing so, the bill avoids some restrictions, such as those on the size of a given studio in a home, that were of concern to musicians.

Council members Phil Claiborne and Bruce Stanley each expressed some concerns on behalf of residents in their districts who might not prefer to have their neighbors operating recording studios next door. Barry said she believed such concerns could be addressed.

The bill moves on to a third and final vote at the council’s next meeting.

The council also voted Tuesday to approve, on second reading, a new 10-year franchise agreement with Comcast, after three years of negotiation. In exchange for the use of public rights of way, cable companies sign such agreements with cities, typically including payment and contributions to public access channels.

Under the terms of the new deal, Comcast will continue to pay Metro 5 percent of its gross revenue, which came out to $8.5 million in the 2013 fiscal year, according to Metro officials.

The agreement also includes a boost in funding for Nashville’s public, educational, government (PEG) channels — MCAtv9 (arts), iQtv10 (education) and Access Nashville 19 — and Metro 3, which broadcasts Metro government meetings. Under the previous agreement, Comcast contributed $100,000 annually to PEG support. Going forward, they would contribute $300,000 in the first year and $200,000 per year after that. Those funds, however, can only be used for capital purposes, meaning NECAT — the nonprofit organization that runs channels 9, 10 and 19 — must rely on fundraising to support their staff.

The increase in PEG support will show up as a slight increase in fees for Comcast subscribers. The 5-cent fee the cable provider currently passes on to subscribers will go up to roughly 10 cents, according to Comcast officials.

The deal also includes a settlement of a dispute between Metro and Comcast over the results of an audit, under which Comcast will make a one-time payment to Metro of $800,000.

In other council action:

As expected, the council approved a little more than $11 million in supplemental appropriations to get various Metro departments and programs through the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The appropriations include $2.8 million for Metro Nashville Public Schools, for textbooks, as well as supplemental funding for the state fairgrounds and the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

9 Comments on this post:

By: bfra on 4/3/13 at 7:12

Sure everybody wants a blaring recording studio next door in a residential neighborhood. Gotta have the boom boom boom of the drums, so you can feel like you are being subjected to some Chinese boom torture.

By: songwriter on 4/3/13 at 7:19

bfra: Obviously, you've never lived next to a studio! They are built to keep the sound in for acoustic recording reasons. And most home studios don't use real drums, they use synthesized drums, which they listen to on headphones. You can't even hear them in the room!

By: Rocket99 on 4/3/13 at 7:53

Yeah bfra. Have you ever been in a real recording studio? This doesn't count someone's bonus room where they may choose to play instruments but, a real recording studio. They are very soundproof.

The concern I could see neighbors having is the possibility of additional traffic and potential parking problems for all the lemos. (lol) It's not like there's going to be a sudden burst of home recording studios all over Metro. This just makes them completely legal.

Wonder how many of bfra's neighbors have one that he doesn't know about.

By: mars on 4/3/13 at 8:56

It's really a non issue in general. Studios are designed to be very quiet and most muscians are nocturnal and play/record at night. Ofcourse there will be exceptions, but those are largely amateurs who won't last long here. Traffic and noise are non issues, but work isn't

By: budlight on 4/3/13 at 9:17

From my encounters with bfra on other sites, bfra is not too "in tune" with much. Most people know that recording studios are sound proof - not letting sound IN and therefore, not letting sound out. Just disregard bfra; I do! I agree with Mars; amateurs won't last long. When I walk by my neighbors home, I hear her son playing drums. But when I'm in my yard or in my home, I don't hear it. So no problems there.

My only gripe is that they are allowing home based studios for musicians and I know some people like accountants, massage therapists, hair dressers or others who would like a small home based business - legally - also. Metro is not willing to even explore that avenue, even though they know there are about 10,000 of them operating as cottage industries.

By: askjimmycarter on 4/3/13 at 4:57

Trust me....I love music and I love Nashville made music....When it is made next door at all hours of the day and night..It is not a good thing...
I have thumped...bumped and rattled at all hours due to a thriving studio in the middle of our subdivision... Cars parked in front of my house at all hours or the day and night... I didnt buy a house to live next door to a BUSINESS.... with many visitors and customers...
I didnt buy the house to live next to a 24 hour a day 7 days a week business...It is and should be ILLEGAL! during 8 to 5 maybe...night NO...and Night is when the musicians thrive...iBad NEIGHBORS!

By: askjimmycarter on 4/3/13 at 4:58

Hey you cant hide the cars and the VIBRATION...sure you dont hear the music...you FEEL it...

By: budlight on 4/4/13 at 7:56

I sympathize with you over the car parking situation; it is quite a problem everywhere. But then so is 4 families living in one single family home. You know, the imports who don't know the law and have 30 people in one home.

By: bfra on 4/4/13 at 8:24

So, everybody that wants a jack leg recording studio is going to the expense of putting in a soundproof room? Naive people! Just like everybody that drives has a license & insurance? Ha Ha. Just like Ask Jimmy Carter said, music blaring 24/7, cars parked every where & I didn't buy residential property to live next door to a business. Bud back under the bridge, scaring people!