Musician sues city after being ordered to shut down home recording studio

The same week he won a Grammy, Lij Shaw received a letter demanding he shut down his home studio. (WSMV)

There’s a chance some Nashville business owners are breaking the law and don’t even know it.

A law that's been on the books for years makes it difficult to work from home.

For those living in a residential zone, it is illegal to serve clients on the property.

Basement salons and garage recording studios exist all over Nashville, but many owners keep a low profile in fear of being ordered to shut down.

It happened to Lij Shaw. He moved to East Nashville in 1991.

“It was Nashville and the people that I saw and knew and admired that really taught me that having a home studio was part of the fabric and the birthplace of music in Nashville, TN,” Shaw said.

Shaw has had success for 10 years in his studio The Toy Box. But in 2015 he received a letter from the city demanding he shut it down.

It came the same week he won a Grammy.

“I was just so incredibly stressed out. I didn't know what to do. I felt like the world was crashing down,” Shaw said. “I think most people in this city have absolutely no idea there is a law like this."

Shaw has filed a lawsuit against the city. He’s teaming up with a local hair stylist who was also told to shut down her home salon.

Their demand is a simple one.

“Hey, would you mind please letting me make a living and continue to live here in East Nashville and feed my family?" Shaw said.

The city said it cannot comment on pending litigation.

The law was created due to concerns of street parking and unfamiliar faces coming into certain neighborhoods.

Shaw said in his 10 years recording in his detached garage, he hasn't received one complaint from a neighbor.

According to the Institute for Justice, 1,600 home-based businesses exist in Nashville. Many of them appear to be illegal under Metro Codes.

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