Musicians pleased with changes Metro Council makes to noise ordinance

The change focuses on speakers and where they’re pointed, not how loud downtown bars could have their music.
The change focuses on speakers and where they’re pointed, not how loud downtown bars could have their music.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 11:08 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Council approved some major changes to an ordinance that originally determined how loud downtown bars could have their music, but now it focuses only on speakers, and where they’re pointed.

“We felt good yesterday with the outcome,” said Scott Collier, a long-time Nashville musician.

Collier, along with many other Nashville musicians, stood outside Metro Courthouse Tuesday evening ahead of Metro’s council meeting. They said they were protesting an ordinance that would have placed a restriction on the level of sound coming from downtown bars. But the bill’s sponsor, Jeff Syracuse, said that’s no longer the case after Tuesday’s meeting.

“The bill doesn’t have anything to do anymore with a decibel level. There’s already a decibel level in the code, and this doesn’t change that,” said Syracuse.

The original ordinance would have affected all amplified music, including live music. The substitute ordinance only focuses on where speakers are pointed.

“Just interior speakers that over time different club owners were starting to turn them out towards the street. One guy would do it. The next guy would do it. So, they all agree that we needed a level setting way of making sure that speakers would turn back inside, and so, this simply does that,” said Syracuse.

Syracuse said one of the reasons why they looked into noise concerns downtown was due to a public safety concern.

“Our police had some concerns of excessive noise especially because there was an incident recently where there was a gunshot where they couldn’t even hear it, and they couldn’t locate it,” said Syracuse.

Now those musicians who were concerned with the original ordinance are now on board.

“We’re really happy that they did away with the 85 decibels on live music. Also, we’re happy that they’re not going to have the speakers pointed at the street. We’re totally against that,” said Collier.

“It looks good to us. You know, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t claim to be one, but we will have some lawyers look at it and make sure that it is right,” said John Taylor, a Nashville entertainment director.

The ordinance also plans to create an advisory committee to look at the impact of loud music on musicians and make recommendations that could be implemented through a pilot project.

Metro Council will address this ordinance on third reading on Aug. 15.