Home studios now legal

Metro Council voted Tuesday evening (July 7) to approve the Home Occupation Modernization bill (BL2019-48) in Nashville, an ordinance amending Section 17.16.250 of Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws relative to home occupation, which regulates people operating a small business from home. The council voted 25-14 to approve the bill, which was sponsored by Councilman Dave Rosenberg.

The ordinance allows home businesses in Davidson County to have customers visit their homes; previously, home-based businesses were legal, but were prohibited from even one client from entering the business. This has long affected many home-based recording studios in Nashville, which had technically been operating in violation of the law for many years.

 “Music City,” you’d think that Nashville would be kind to music makers regardless of where they ply their trade. That wasn’t the case though, as the city wielded an ordinance that not only forbid home recording studios but all home-based businesses to have clients on their premises. That includes the hairstylist trying to cut hair from home, the accountant consulting on your taxes, and the piano teacher showing your daughter the basics.

A group of Nashville residents led by home studio owner Lij Shaw have been fighting the ordinance for 5 years. Shaw, who’s worked with John Oates, Jack White, Wilco, Adele, and the Zac Brown Band, began his fight back in 2015 after receiving a cease and desist order from Nashville Metro Codes stating he was violating a zoning ordinance against operating a commercial recording studio in his residence.

Of course, Nashville, being the so-called “Music City, has a long-standing history of music being made in producer, engineer and artist residences that goes back decades, so the ordinance seemed to make little sense.

In the process, he picked up support from both the Institute For Justice and the Beacon Center of Tennessee for legal support. He also started a campaign that has gained about 165,000 signatures to date. Shaw also picked up crucial support from Nashville City councilman Dave Rosenberg who introduced a new bill called BL2019-48 which provided relief for home businesses in the city and allow them to actually do business with clients on the premises.

The world we live in has changed forever and more and more people will be making a living from home in the future. As long as the immediate community isn’t being disturbed (Shaw received 40 strong recommendations from his neighbors).

This precedent set in Nashville – Home Occupation Modernization bill will probably have some far-reaching implications of home studios throughout the US.

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