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Coworking for Music Industry Pros: a Q&A with InDo Nashville’s Co-founder
InDo Nashville is pushing the bounds of what coworking can be. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, an artist-rich city and longtime musical hotspot, InDo is home to a wide variety of music industry professionals. It also boasts an event space and songwriting rooms for artists.
I chatted with InDo co-founder Kate Richardson about the need for a music-focused coworking space in Music City, how she caters to the creativity of artists, and how the InDo team converted an industrial space into a thriving shared workspace.
Cat Johnson: How did InDo Nashville come about? What was the inspiration for it?
Kate Richardson: We were trying to create a space that worked for creative entrepreneurs, whether they are artists or, like my company, a PR firm for the music industry. We have other companies in the building that are entertainment lawyers and one company is a touring company that does the technical side of tours.
I actually remember the exact moment that I had the idea for InDo. My business partner and I used to work out of a coworking space that was very corporate and geared towards healthcare startups. When I booked John Oates on the Tonight Show—it was the first time I’d booked an artist on the Tonight Show—I was jumping up and down screaming. I was so excited and I was getting dirty looks from the other really corporate guys in their suits. I had this a-ha moment and realized there’s a whole niche here that’s not served in the corporate community, and that we can do it.
Where did the name InDo come from?
InDo stands for Inspiration Domain. I wanted somewhere that was inspiring. In Nashville there’s this area called Music Row. At the time we were looking for space, most of the businesses in the music community were located up and down two streets in that neighborhood.
The area was just too expensive and I was looking to rent space. Some friends of ours who had another business suggested I look into buying and I was like, ‘I can’t buy a building. That’s crazy.’ But it just happened to work out. I went to a party at Jack White’s Third Man Records building. It was in a really cool industrial area that’s kind of under-known, and I wound up, through an amazing coincidence, finding this building. I really lucked out because the area, since then, has just exploded.
So we actually took an industrial building and completely renovated it. It took us a year. We added a top floor and an elevator. We had to make it ADA compliant so there was a lot involved, but for us it was a really important real estate investment. That actually helped make the overall opening of this space a little less risky in a weird way because we had the collateral of owning a building. Not everyone can do that. We’ve been open for two years now and we’re a mixed-use space. We have an event space, we have private office suites, coworking and songwriting rooms.
Do you have to educate music industry pros about coworking?
Coworking is pretty new to Nashville. When we first started, we were like coworking pioneers. It’s a lot more popular now. I will say, one of the biggest challenges we faced was that, in the year that it took us to renovate our building, a number of other spaces opened up. So that was definitely a big challenge for us. And since then a lot of places have come and gone, so it’s been interesting.
It is challenging for us to compete against national chains because they have so much money. Their advertising is unbelievable—just how much advertising they are doing. They’re undercutting each other and we’re just sitting here watching them duke it out. They’re operating at a loss where we can’t afford to. We are operating at a profit which is great.
I’m curious about the songwriting rooms. That’s definitely not a standard amenity in most coworking spaces.
We wanted to differentiate ourselves by creating a very comfortable, creative space. Many songwriters had said a lot of the songwriting rooms in Nashville were very sterile, so our rooms are really fun. One has 45s all over the wall. The other one is called the Monolith Room and it’s got a huge collection of lava lamps in it. It gets a little hot when we turn them all on.
We made rooms that we love, that feel comfortable, and have warm lighting and curvy walls. We spent a lot of time picking out colors and unique light fixtures. They’re just really different.
We don’t even have cubicles in the space, we have these things called the uncubicals that we built with really cool old doors and windows. They’re screwed together with plumbing piping and they all have windows in them. There’s some space between the tables we wanted to differentiate, but it’s open, so all the natural light still gets through everywhere.
The other places we looked at were very tan with cubicles and off-white and grey colors. We knew that wasn’t what we wanted. Our place is purple and green and we have sculptures with spinning records hanging down from the ceiling. We also feature local artists and have shows with them. There’s cool artwork that changes all the time and, during different events like conventions and festivals, we become a venue. During the Americana Music Association Festival our event space turns into a venue for the festival for four days.
What’s the Nashville coworking and entrepreneurial scene like, and what role does InDo play in it?
We are not a club, we aren’t open on a regular basis, but we allow and welcome industry events in our building. We’ve had things like, for instance, Gene Simmons from Kiss held an event to meet his VIP fans at our building. We’ll have something like that then, on the other end, we might have a very inclusive wedding. We’ve had a couple of artists who are really famous who wanted a private place to rehearse for a charity event. Rather than go to the local rehearsal space where they could be hassled by people, they came here where they can have a really private, comfortable place to hang out.
What’s the InDo community like? What makes it special?
It’s super friendly. Everybody here are such busy executives, we don’t do a lot of planned community building events. Those sound great and we did them in the beginning when we opened the building, but people would just wander by and grab a donut. We are just too busy—this is a very busy, fast-paced industry and we’re rocking all the time.
The collaborations I see are when people are having their lunch downstairs. We do have happy hours, and we have events once in awhile, but it didn’t become as much an important part of our building as I thought it would be. The collaborations have been much more natural, more organic, rather than forced, planned events.
In the music industry where people need a bit of anonymity, I work with quite a few celebrities and you never know who’s going to walk into the building. We need people who aren’t gonna lose their cool when somebody famous walks in. So the other companies in the building who are entertainment related all really value that.
When you were looking for software to run InDo Nashville, why did you choose Satellite Deskworks?
Three years ago I looked at basically everything that was on the market. Satellite Deskworks was the one that just seemed to have the most features that worked for us, that made the most sense economically, and that could scale with us as we grew.
We particularly loved [Satellite Deskworks founder and CEO] Barbara Sprenger. She was extremely kind in helping us walk through this journey we were on. None of the other companies we reached out to had anything remotely as generous and giving as she was. And Deskworks was very receptive to input from us on features that were needed, and testing of the software. They really walked us through the setup.
How you would advise another space operator who is considering going with Deskworks?
Make a list of the features that are must-haves for your space, because every space is different. Then really try to do a pros and cons table where you analyze each product. And definitely talk to the companies you are considering. When you talk to Deskworks, it’s a whole different level.
Run your coworking space more effectively with Satellite Deskworks workspace software. Request a free demo today.