Drive The Music – A Conversation with Exit/In’s Chris Cobb


Drive the Music

It’s no secret that live music has been in a pretty rough place since the pandemic halted shows. The lack of concerts has heavily affected Music City, particularly our local independent venues. But Nashville’s community is strong and full of people who want to step up and help out. That’s where Matthew Barker, Vice President of Two Rivers Ford, enters the picture.

As a lover of live music, Barker had his mind set to help local venues and live music-related employees as they continue working hard to stay afloat and bring music to the people of Nashville. Through Two Rivers Ford’s partnering with Music Venue Alliance Nashville (MVAN), “Drive the Music” was born. The joint initiative aims to keep independent venues kicking through the support of fans. Folks can buy a Drive The Music t-shirt for $30 at the Drive the Music website, with all proceeds going to Music Venue Alliance Nashville!

A Conversation with Chris Cobb

The historic Exit/In is one venue in Music Venue Alliance Nashville that will benefit from Drive the Music. Lightning 100’s Jayson Chalfant sat down with Exit/In owner and president of MVAN, Chris Cobb, to hear how local venues have been surviving since the pandemic started.

Chris Cobb shared a bit about the struggles experienced for venues across Nashville. “Close to 100% of venues have been closed for seven months. And these are ‘mom and pops’. These are small businesses. None of us have seven months of capital set aside. And we don’t have access to capital because we’re not part of a larger corporation. We’re local, independent, small businesses, much like Lightning 100, right?”

We’re out of cash, we’re all out of cash, and just really desperately trying to raise enough money each month to make sure no venues close.

Chris Cobb, Owner of Exit/in

Chris Cobb explained just how much the pandemic has affected and continues to affect the live music industry economically. “Venues, pre-pandemic, employed just under 400 people, hosted 5,600 concerts annually last year, paid over five million to 46,000 musicians last year, and put over two million dollars in taxes to the city last year. The loss of these venues would have a huge ripple effect throughout our community culturally and economically.”

But despite how hard the live music industry has been hit, it’s the support of partners and fans that has kept venues like Exit/In hopeful during this time. Chris told Jayson how Drive the Music has impacted his venue and MVAN as a whole: “We’re very thankful to Two Rivers Ford for reaching out and saying ‘we have an idea and want to help you raise some money’… It’s amazing. It’s a huge a testament to really just the fabric of the community of Nashville. That people care and they want to help and they want to make sure we don’t lose these venues.”

Music City Bandwidth

Cobb also described another initiative that is helping small venues stay afloat called Music City Bandwidth. “Music City Bandwidth is two months of streams from Nashville’s fifteen independent music venues. So it’s pretty much every night of the week at seven o’ clock through Halloween. The last one is Here Come The Mummies on Halloween from Exit/In which I think is pretty cool and pretty fitting.” If you’re looking for a spooky and fun way to spend your Halloween, be sure to grab your live stream tickets to Here Come the Mummies here!

You have the power to support Nashville’s independent venues, performers, venue staff, hospitality staff, and everybody that plays a role in making Music City the live music haven we all know and love. Be sure to support to the Drive the Music campaign here by purchasing a t-shirt, poster, or just donating directly. Let’s keep live music alive!