Two years after announcing they would be leasing office space in Wedgewood-Houston’s Nashville Warehouse Company building, the Academy of Country Music (ACM) finally hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their new, 9,773-square-foot, third-floor office space in the 140,000-square-foot, five-story building on Fourth Avenue South.
Notable guests at the event deemed by many in attendance as “Hollwood-meets-Nashville” included ACM CEO Damon Whiteside, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation President Deana Ivey, space developers AJ Capital’s CEO and Founder Ben Weprin, ACM Board Officers, plus the reigning New Female and Male Artist ACM Award winners, Lainey Wilson and Parker McCollum.
CEO Whiteside highlighted that for the first time in the ACM’s six-decade history, the Los Angeles-born organization would have its base in Music City. He emphasized that country music’s global and streaming spread in the past two decades has, in many ways, lessened the organization’s initial goals of promoting country artists and industry initiatives solely focused on the genre’s west coast expansion.
Bringing a taste of the ACM’s “bar room instead of boardroom” roots as a “renegade and progressive” organization is core to what he feels the organization will bring to and will emanate from its new downtown Nashville home.
Los Angeles native Whiteside’s been the ACM’s CEO since 2019 (he previously spent time at the Country Music Association as Chief Marketing Officer). Overall, he has over two decades of career experience in the music and entertainment industries. A Nashville resident since 2013, he noted, exclusive to The Tennessean, that he feels the city’s growth on the national and global scene is intrinsically linked to country music artists having a “strong, united community” that has made the city a destination hub to celebrate a superstar-making pop industry.
The ACM will use its offices to maintain its involvement in its yearly ACM Honors program at the Ryman Auditorium, which was broadcast in 2022 on Fox for the first time. Plus, ACM Lifting Lives, a program that, via health-related initiatives, financial support and music camps for talented individuals with developmental disabilities, benefits the country music community at large, is expected to get a boost from now direct local aid.
Plus, from a corporate standpoint, greater engagement with brands like Amazon (already a broadcast partner for the ACM Awards) will be possible as ACM “integrates into [Nashville’s] fabric,” notes Whiteside.
Growth insofar as forthcoming diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives via the ACM’s “LEVel Up” professional development program aim to make country music “open and equal to everybody” are high on Whiteside’s list of achievements to accomplish now that the 5,000-plus member organization is more active on the ground in Nashville.
“We’re here to move the needle as a member of the community,” Whiteside stated.
Mayor Cooper added in statements during a brief press conference that the ACM’s arrival in Nashville was the genesis of a “seamless transition” to the organization’s “next greatest chapter” in Wedgewood-Houston, a fast-developing area also home to entertainment promotion group Live Nation’s Nashville offices, a location of global members-only artist and creative space Soho House that Cooper referred to as “one of the great neighborhoods in America.”
Notably, for private real estate firm AJ Capital, the ACM offices expand their Nashville music industry holdings and investments to the EXIT/IN, the renovation of North Nashville’s legendary Club Baron, previously-mentioned Soho House Nashville and Live Nation having space in the same Nashville Warehouse Company building.
The group could also add a 4,500-person venue — for which they have already filed plans — in the same neighborhood.
ACM Best New Artists McCollum and Wilson are likely — among many — to benefit from the inclusion of a small live performance stage, social media content creation office and two working boardrooms in the new ACM headquarters. In a city where signed and unsigned artists struggle to do the work required to succeed or elevate their craft, having an ACM membership serves multiple purposes — including access to professional grade services.
Moreover, it is on the back of artists’ work that the genre has grown so significantly so quickly. The ACM’s downtown Nashville relocation is attached to the impressiveness of this development.
McCollum highlighted how he won his 2022 Best New Male Artist award in Las Vegas in front of people watching on Amazon Prime in 235 countries worldwide, then headlined the Houston Rodeo (in front of 80,000 people) and then returned to Nashville — a worldwide country and pop musical hub, in the same week.
For Wilson, eight months have elapsed since she won her ACM Nest New Female Artist Award on Amazon Prime and became a streaming television star on Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone.”
She feels that “everything really started rolling” when she achieved her ACM honor.
Moreover, as someone who has spent 95 percent of her days away from Nashville in the past 365, she highlights Nashville’s growing country music footprint hitting “every corner of town” as “cool.”
“Over the past ten years — from the hole-in-the-wall bars to Broadway — everything’s been impacted by the growth,” Wilson continues. She jokes that her story of moving to Nashville in 2011 in a camper trailer that she parked in a backyard would be implausible as the city’s economic growth continues to expand.
For Wilson, spaces like the ACM’s new headquarters will allow artists to engage more deeply in community development, fostering broader support for rising stars.
“Anywhere we go in the world, it will help to feel like we’re all on the same team.”