One only need walk into the Regions Bank office at Roundabout Plaza to recognize the immersion this tenured team has in the storied Nashville music scene. From the baby grand in the main lobby to exhibits of artists including The Beatles and Grand Ole Opry legend Jeannie Seely, the history radiates throughout these walls.
It isn’t unusual to find a client seated at the piano regaling bankers and visitors alike with the latest song they’ve written or recorded.
“We offer key networking space for our clients and associates,” shared Lisa Harless, wealth advisor at Regions. “Some of our clients have met in our lobby and ended up having song co-writing sessions.”
Nestled in the heart of Music Row, Regions has been a part of this community for nearly 40 years, financing some of the most well-known artists, record labels, music publishers, music licensing firms, recording studios and other businesses in this niche community.
“The music community is exactly that – a community,” Harless said. “There are a small number of banks with true music entertainment-focused efforts.”
Brad Peterson, Regions commercial banking leader on Music Row agreed. “It is very unique in banking – and everyone in the financial industry covering this segment knows each other. We compete, but we all have relationships, too.”
A unique, hybrid, integrated office, Regions’ Music Row location houses branch/consumer space, plus private wealth management, mortgage, commercial banking and a financial consultant for investments. Harless helped open Regions’ Music Row office in Nashville in 1985 and has seen its growth alongside that of the community it supports.
“I’ve been managing clients in the music industry on Music Row for 37 years,” noted Harless. “That longevity has given me the privilege of now helping the second generation of many of our clients manage their finances to reach their own personal and professional goals.”
Songwriter and recording artist Terry McBride – a longtime client – shared his first encounter with Harless more than 40 years ago.
His story began in the 1980s, when he had been touring for years but was still struggling financially. His starving artist days were coming to an end as he was about to sign with MCA. The hand-me-down car his father-in-law gave him literally blew up on I-35. He tried to get a loan to buy a used car but was turned down when a banker balked at the loan request, even with the signed record deal.
A friend and former bandmate recommended that McBride give Harless a call.
McBride did that the next day. She said, “Let me get this straight, you just signed a record deal with Tony Brown at MCA? How much do you need?” The rest, as they say is history.
“Lisa became my banker the next day as she sent me the money needed to purchase a used car, and over 30 years later she’s the only banker I’ve ever had or needed,” said McBride. “She’s more than just a banker, she’s a dear friend and a huge supporter of me, my music and my career. I guess the moral of the story is to find a banker that knows and understands your business and it can change your life. Meeting Lisa certainly changed mine.”
No stranger to the stage herself, Harless has been invited to jump in on background vocals with named country and rock artists at venues at events at The Opry House, Franklin Theatre and the historic Ryman Auditorium. She has even sung duets with clients during the famed Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival.
The annual, weeklong event in Nashville, billed as the “largest songwriter festival in the world,” is put on by the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).
Regions has been the presenting sponsor for 15 years. Traditionally held in the spring, it starts with a big kickoff party hosted by Regions in the lobby of the Music Row office, followed by five days of shows at 10 different venues across Nashville, including the Bluebird Cafe, Station Inn, The Listening Room, and Hard Rock Café and 3rd & Lindsley, among others.
“For over 15 years, Nashville Songwriters Association International has been proud to partner with Regions Bank to present our annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival,” said Lyndsie McClure, NSAI, Director of Development. “The bank’s support is vital to the success of our event which brings hundreds of songwriters to Music City and offers attendees the opportunity to discover rising songwriters and watch songwriting legends in their element. Tin Pan South serves as a major fundraiser to further NSAI’s mission to educate, elevate, and celebrate songwriters everywhere, and we are grateful to have Regions as a dedicated partner in advancing this mission.”
Each venue holds two shows per night, with songwriters from across all genres – country, rock, pop, Americana, R&B, and contemporary Christian. That adds up to between 400 and 500 songwriters performing during the week. There are also surprise appearances by some big-name stars, including Keith Urban, Jewel, and Sheryl Crow appearing in recent years.
“Our passion for the industry is first and foremost,” shared Harless. “We have built our careers where our clients are.”
In addition to Tin Pan South, Regions Music Row bankers are all in on this community, with involvement in local and industry organizations throughout the city.
“Involvement in key music industry organizations and events is one of the ways we live the Regions model of serving and giving back to our community,” Harless said.
Peterson, Regions entertainment commercial banker, specializes in working with music publishers and is a key player in that lending arena where Regions participates in syndicated song catalog transactions. He has been banking the music business since 1996 and has a long history of working with publishing houses, music licensing firms, record labels, staging firms, and more. In 2016, he returned to Regions where he had worked with predecessor banks, to expand the bank’s music publishing side of the business.
“From music publishers to private equity firms, music catalog financing is a booming business,” explained Peterson, who is actively involved with key music publishing organizations such as the Association of Independent Music Publishers, the National Music Publishers Association, and Leadership Music.
Jon Singer, CEO and co-founder of Lyric Capital Group, a private-equity firm focused on investing in the music industry, met Peterson in 2011 when he joined Spirit Music Group shortly before the company transaction to acquire Pete Townshend’s classic music catalog.
“I met Brad, and we immediately hit it off,” shared Singer. “The Townshend catalog acquisition was complex, and Brad was by my side through it all.”
In 2019, Spirit’s previous parent company was ready to sell, and Singer and his business partner launched Lyric Capital Group and soon acquired Spirit Music. Fast forward to 2021 when Lyric Capital acquired a $135 million music catalog, Brad was his first call and Regions was the lead on the multimillion-dollar transaction.
“Nashville lenders know the music industry better than anyone – and on Music Row they are part of the community,” said Singer, who is based in New York but makes frequent trips to his company’s Music Row office. “You go to a venue in Nashville and more than likely, you’ll see the lenders there, too.”
Singer noted that he considers Peterson and the Regions team more than just his lenders, but also as friends and business partners. He said he’s learned of a number of music catalog deals through Peterson, who knows so many in the industry.
“I like doing business with people I trust, and there is no one I trust more than Brad Peterson,” Singer said.
While many of Regions Music Row clients have offices and operations in Nashville, the majority of the commercial banking clients, like Singer, are located around the world, operating in global music hubs such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Toronto, London and Stockholm.
In addition to the Music Row office, Regions has 15 branches throughout the Nashville market where bankers are helping personal and business clients alike reach their financial goals.
“Regions is all in on Nashville and Music Row,” said Harless.