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USATODAY--If you think Wednesday's Grammy nominations concert is just another music show at Bridgestone Arena, the city's mayor, Karl Dean, is ready to tell you differently.

As Dean and leaders in the economic development and tourism industries see it, the nationally televised program - taking place outside Los Angeles for the first time since its inception five years ago - provides validation that Nashville is an all-inclusive music city.

It's an image officials are eager to put into the psyche of people throughout the country as they work to shed the long-held perception that Nashville is open only to country music.

Getting that message out, Dean and others believe, is crucial to efforts to boost everything from tourism to business investment in Nashville. Nearly 10 million people watched last year's nominations concert special on CBS, a 12% improvement from 2010.


"What I think it really does for somebody who is not familiar with Nashville, or has an image of Nashville that does not comport with reality, is that it helps them to see what Nashville really is," Dean said. "It spreads the word in a way we couldn't on our own."

The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! Countdown to Music's Biggest Night (CBS, 10 p.m. ET) will kick off the countdown to the 55th annual Grammy Awards by revealing Grammy nominees in between live performances from past award winners and nominees. Maroon 5 will perform a one-hour concert for those in attendance after the show.

"There are obvious benefits (of the concert) from just attracting attention to the city from people who want to do business here to attracting people who want to relocate business here," Dean said. "It's important for folks to understand how diverse the music scene is in Nashville."


Varied acts based here


Among acts that call Nashville home are pop artists Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw, and rockers Kings of Leon, The Black Keys and Jack White, whose music label, Third Man Records, is based here. That doesn't include acts such as British rock band Mumford & Sons that don't live here full time but take up residence in Music City for long periods to write and record music.


The thinking goes that people like to see themselves reflected in a place as they decide whether to visit, move or invest there. Generally, the more people who can see themselves in Nashville's reflection, the better. One way to create the connection between the two is to use music, exploiting the close relationship between an individual and his or her musical tastes.


"We travel on the road telling the Nashville story throughout the year, and the story is that it is a much more diverse and deep and broad a creative economy than you would dream," said Janet Miller, chief economic development and marketing officer for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. "The fact that we have such an amazing visual representation of it in the music industry is a gold mine."


Grammy officials have said they chose Nashville for a combination of factors including the city's vigorous and diverse music industry. Heavy lobbying from Dean's administration also contributed to Nashville beating out Los Angeles and other cities to win the event.


The victory provides a centerpiece around which efforts by the Music City Music Council, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the chamber of commerce to improve Nashville's attractiveness can revolve.


"The fact that we have a ... broad-genre show is reflective of the direction that Nashville is going in terms of becoming more of a broad-based music center," said Randy Goodman, chairman of the Music City Music Council. "The exciting thing about the Grammy show being here is that it reinforces that."


Miller is banking on Nashville's ability to capture second looks after Wednesday night's exposure, particularly from the creative class whose highly innovative, high-growth companies have the potential to transform a city's economy.


"Companies decide where they will locate based on a business case, but at the end of the day, there's a subjective quality," Miller said. "The implications of this say so much more about the city than one concert would. We feel like it's a statement about this creative place, and that is economic development gold."


Tourism officials, too, are counting the benefits of using the concert to broaden the image and appeal of Nashville.


"It's in everybody's best interest in terms of the end result," said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Anytime you're perceived more as one-dimensional, it limits your opportunities."


Spyridon considers the show the "end result of a significant, concentrated and focused effort to make a stronger statement about the (Music City) brand that would broaden perception," a plan that has been more than two decades in the making.


Strong Nashville brand


Meanwhile, the visitors bureau website's "Music City Radio" station features artists including rapper Nelly, crooner Bruno Mars and other acts with even the slightest connection to Nashville.


"We have a strong brand, and we want the brand to represent all that's good and not just one facet," Spyridon said.


This all means, of course, that Nashville's predominant genre, country music, is being called on to share not just its stage, but also the spotlight. To say that Nashville is inextricably linked to country music falls far short of approaching the relationship between the two, and officials are careful to make clear that the aim isn't to diminish country's role in the Nashville story.


"It's really important to say that it's not about moving away from being the center of country music because I don't know, in our lifetime, if that will ever change. It will always be the focal point of that genre of music," Goodman said. "But what is exciting is that if we can continue to import and grow our infrastructure of music, it will automatically grow our interest to artists from other genres and investors who like other genres."

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