This week’s Streets of Dreams with Marcus Lemonis episode takes the new CNBC travelogue to Nashville’s iconic Music Row, and reveals a few surprises. Who knew that Marcus Lemonis is a country music fan?
Beyond that, though, the Nashville episode does a fine job of continuing the show’s stated mission to demystify the economies of these areas we think we know. In last week’s series premiere, Marcus did his best to expose New York’s famous Diamond District, where the standard operating procedure is a trust system that seems mostly to work one way. In Nashville, he explains how the complex system of professional songwriting works, giving some key details about the highly competitive music business.
Country music is quite possibly the most popular genre, and Nashville is a hotbed of artists and songwriters, but many fans don’t understand how it works. Marcus explains how aspiring stars begin as songwriters, working with publishers to get their work farmed out to other artists, hoping that one of those people will record it and score a number one hit. It’s not just showing up with talent and getting discovered; there’s a whole system that people have to work through. And for every hit, there are hundreds if not thousands of misses.
What’s great about Streets of Dreams is that it doesn’t turn into a sob story. Although Marcus meets with Savannah Keyes, who landed a recording contract almost a decade ago and is still looking for that first song to get out into the world, her story is one of honesty and resilience rather than going on about how everyone else is overlooking her. He also sees the opposite side of the spectrum in talking with country music superstar Brett Young. Reality competition shows have conditioned music fans to think people just become stars; this episode reminds us that’s not the case, and explains why.
Keep an eye out for the section with Young, where Marcus also raises another valuable topic of discussion: the impact of streaming on the music industry. It’s become the way to listen to music now, thanks to services like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora, but that’s also crippled the bottom-line revenue of many artists. Listeners see convenience, but they don’t see the numbers. Luckily, Marcus Lemonis happens to be great with getting people to know their numbers, or in this case the numbers of the people they’re listening to.
Streets of Dreams moves on from music then, to talk about how musicians and a few people formerly in the music business have diversified their revenue streams to make up for the pivot to streaming. This episode is a little more broad than the New York installment, which was fairly heavily focused on the diamond and fine jewelry business; especially in the last act, we see other businesses, though some do have a connection to music. That’s something the show ought to continue pursuing, because while each of these areas has one iconic business they’re known for, it’s not the entire picture.
If you’re a country music fan, or a fan of any music, you’ll learn a lot from the Nashville installment of Streets of Dreams with Marcus Lemonis. You’ll probably think differently about how you listen to music or the next artist’s product endorsement you see on TV. People who aren’t huge music buffs might not be as interested, but it’s an episode worth watching to see how an economy evolves as its core business changes.
Whereas New York’s Diamond District will likely always be the behemoth that it is, CNBC and Marcus Lemonis are now showing us a city where people have had to change their business approach and sometimes their entire business in order to survive. Two very different stories in two different cities, thus underscoring the need for this series in the first place.
Streets of Dreams with Marcus Lemonis airs Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CNBC. You can watch the first ten minutes of this episode below.
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