It all started at a radio station IN BERRY HILL...
After a long stint as a banker in NY, John Tumminello moved to Music City to pursue his dream of working in the music industry, starting out as an usher at the legendary Ryman Auditorium, an intern at the Hatch Show Print Shop, and as Digital Marketing Director for South Central Media, which operated radio stations Mix 92.9 and 96.3 JACK-fm. It was there he met recent Belmont University music school alumnus Jon Dicus.
The John/Jon team shared a love of all things music and a passion for working with artists, many of whom were classmates of Jon's. They dreamed of a grassroots community of artists they could help nurture, promote and work with to collectively grow their careers. Music City Unsigned was developed as a program of South Central Media and a monthly podcast & featured artist videocast was introduced in February 2007.
Matt Wertz was the first artist selected to step into the radio station control room for a videocast interview. After a year and with 50 artists strong, Taco Bell came on board as a sponsor and the emerging artist community flourished.
However, the "labor of musical love" side project started getting in the way of the daily responsibilities of the radio stations, so in 2008 MCU was spun off into its own company, a "passion project" helmed by the John/Jon team.
Over the next few years, Tim Beckner and Justin Tam joined on as partners and the four friends supported, promoted, guided and advised hundreds of emerging artists -- never for a fee, only for the love of music.
in its busy heyday, MCU held monthly showcases at The Bluebird Cafe, curated rounds at the Tin Pan South Songwriter Festival, produced two Music City Unsigned Family Christmas albums, presented a battle of the bands competition at 3rd & Lindsley and hosted monthly gigs at Ugly Mugs. MCU established a film & television licensing partnership with Razor & Tie to fill a need for emerging artists to earn money though this growing revenue channel.
The MCU team had ongoing discussions about whether to turn their side project into full time jobs by creating ongoing revenue streams, forming additional strategic partnerships and securing venture capital. However, MCU was never about the money and the partners made the decision to have it remain their "passion project" and not to push the brand to a place where creating revenue was its driving force.
Over the next few years, time and responsibilities sent the four friends in various directions. Jon Dicus moved to Brooklyn to pursue a Masters in graphic design. Tim Beckner moved to Cincinnati to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Justin Tam founded the successful group Humming House, and John Tumminello was hired as Executive Director of the nonprofit music program Musicians Corner.
Since 2010, Musicians Corner has taken on a similar mission as Music City Unsigned. The program has presented over 1,500 emerging and established artists on is stage and showcased them in front of large audiences. Dicus, Beckner, and Tam have all done stints working for Musicians Corner and a former MCU artist, Justin Branam, is currently its Program Director. Musicians Corner has taken over where Music City Unsigned left off, as one of a few current torch bearers for emerging artists in Nashville.
The MCU team has never taken credit for the success of the artists in its community. However, they were always there as coaches, motivators, networkers and shoulders, cheering on artists, picking them up when the industry knocked them down and helping them find their voice and their way. The behind the scenes work that goes into building and sustaining the career as an independent artist is not typically known. However, the fruits of MCU's love for artists can be seen nightly on stages across the country.
For the past few years, MCU has focused on working with Razor & Tie on film and television placements, while continuing to provide guidance and support to a handful of artists. However, hundreds of artists have emerged on the scene since MCU stopped adding artists to its curated community. So, one day in 2016, we decided to create a new website after eight much-needed years, to start adding a few of these new & talented friends to our community, and to reignite our mission of being a cheerleader for this next wave of emerging artists.
Nashville is a home of dreamers and every dreamer needs a believer. MCU believes in artists, and songs and helping creative people make a living pursuing their passions.
We'll always be here, in the back of the auditorium, like proud parents singing along and cheering on our talented kids.