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The business of entertainment

Entertainment is a business that can be lucrative, if done correctly, and Memphis has had its share of successes.

Entertainment covers a wide range of business endeavors, including film, television, theatre, music, publishing and multi-media. The supporting cast needed to make a venture successful includes lawyers, accountants, agents, managers, actors, musicians and designers.

While Memphis' music history is legendary, music is not the only area of entertainment that has been successful.

A few years back, Memphis was a much sought after location for film production. "The Firm," "The Client," "The People v. Larry Flynt," "The Rainmaker," "Cast Away," "21 Grams," "Forty Shades of Blue," "Walk the Line," "Hustle and Flow," "$5 Cover," and "N-Secure" are a sampling of the movies that have been produced here.

However, with other states passing more competitive legislation pertaining to film production incentives, Memphis' track record in film has slowed down lately. Production companies frequently seek locations that offer the best incentives. Tennessee's incentives are just not as competitive as they used to be for the industry.

With an ample supply of talented performers and singers, what is needed to ensure that Memphis gets back in the game?

Unfortunately, Memphis talent too often seems to migrate to cities such as Los Angeles, New York or Atlanta. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with spreading your wings and following the opportunities, but wouldn't it be nice if talent didn't have to relocate to make a mark on the industry.

We need more projects and opportunities for our talent. I mean opportunities such as movie or television show production, music production and placement, multi-media development and placement, and literary production. It will take some strategically placed resources to grow the industry, with Georgia and Louisiana serving as examples that it can be done.

How would Memphis grow by having an independent artist with a hit record?
Well, to have a hit record the artist has to either write a song or work with someone who did write the song, and invest in studio time, an engineer and mastering of the record. The song has to be promoted and marketed via radio, Internet, print, etc. If radio pushes the song, the result can be increased record sales and paid appearances for the artist. When a video is produced, someone has to create the concept, style the artist, direct, film and edit the video.

In short, many businesses and people have a hand in the making of the hit record.
From an economic development perspective, the lawyer should be in a position to make money, the studio and engineer should make money, along with the songwriter and videographer. And the artist should make money from appearance fees, record sales, ring tone sales, etc.

Artists – influenced by the industry – are accustomed to going into "floss" mode, which entails buying a house for mom, a house for the artist, and don't leave out the luxury car purchases and the jewelry buys. The real estate industry receives a boost, the car dealerships are happy and the jewelry store is overjoyed.
Entertainment is good for Memphis, not just for the entertainment value but for the economic-development value.

Whether its movies, television or music, we have to invest in the industry at a high level to reap the returns. While there is nothing wrong with holding on to icons such as Elvis Presley and Isaac Hayes, we have to create the next generation to continue to reap the economic benefits of the entertainment industry.

This month we focus on those industries that are a part of the supporting cast in the entertainment business.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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