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Here's my story! I grew up in Auburndale, Florida, a small town right in the middle of the state. Like many, music started for me by singing in Church. My favorite hymn was I'll Fly Away, and I would even request it in the middle of service from time to time. One of my earliest memories is watching a recorded televised performance of Garth Brooks, where he repelled across an arena. Watching the faces of the crowd members struck me; they were so captivated by the energetic performance that they didn’t worry about any of life’s troubles for those two hours. Immediately, I knew my place was in music. When I was eight years old, I had my first 'professional' performance with my elementary school choir at Disney World. I didn't realize the full impact at the time, but I thought it was pretty cool that I got to enjoy the parks for the rest of the day after my performance and the four tickets they gave me as compensation!

In middle school, I started school band on tuba. During a Summer music program, my band director, Bill Agrella, agreed to let me learn whichever instruments I wanted; I took full advantage and picked up the rest of the low brass family, saxophone, piano, and percussion. Around that time, I also talked my parents into buying me a bass and a guitar for Christmas. My history teacher agreed to give me a few lessons and it was off to the races! I realized I had a knack for picking up new instruments, gave up my extracurricular sports teams, and dedicated my time to learning music the best I could. 

When high school came around, I expanded my music in school to participate in band, orchestra, choir, and guitar orchestra, as well as playing in my church youth group and in  rock bands with friends from school. My first band, Crymson Rue, even got to share sets with the drummer's parents' band at a bar called Harborside; we thought we were so cool, and we were right! When I was 15, my family made our first trip to Nashville and I told my parents I would live there one day. They laughed, thinking it was just a kid's dream of being a rock star. You'll soon learn how that worked out. Junior year, my high school's Symphony Band was invited to play at The Lincoln Center in New York and I was amazed at the idea of being a traveling musician.

I was recruited by the music faculty at Florida Southern College, much like what you see in movies for athletes. I initially chose Music Education as my major, but later switched to be able to balance my energy learning both music and business. I consistently performed with nine ensembles, maintained my course load, participated in as many extracurriculars as I could manage, ran a private lesson studio, worked part time at Florida Music Service, started working as a low brass and marching clinician at high schools, and dove headfirst into researching all things music business. My senior year, I nagged my professors and the administration until they finally gave in and allowed me to take on and successfully complete a project to create the university's first on-campus recording studio. 

After I graduated, I was offered a full-time job as Sales & Support Manager at Florida Music Service, where I oversaw all operations distributing sheet music to the K-12 schools in Florida, started my own artist development company, and kept a busy performance schedule. I took this time to do some graduate coursework at FSC in management, finance, and marketing, as well as start making trips to Nashville to network and plan my move.

I moved to Nashville in 2014 and landed my first gig just four days after my arrival, playing on Lower Broadway at Swingin' Doors Saloon with a guy named Cory Rowe, where I eventually met Wes Bayliss (The Steel Woods). Later that year, I got the call to work as a musician actor for ABC's Nashville, as well as a residency at Tin Roof Broadway. The next year, I got the gig playing with Karen Waldrup (The Voice). By 2016, I was playing over 300 shows a year and ditched my day gig working for an insurance company; I've never been afraid to hustle, but had a wake-up call when I landed in the hospital due to overworking myself. Free tip: take care of yourself!

Shortly after, I was offered my first real full-time gig with Jerry Jacobs. We would play 1-2 nights a week on Lower Broadway and toured every weekend, 50 weeks a year. The money was great, the band was fun, and we got to see dang near the whole country through our motorhome-converted-tour bus, I affectionately named 'Eileen' (yes, like the song). I learned a lot about being a touring musician during this time, which sometimes included putting on my mechanic hat and fixing the bus on the side of the road. I stayed on that gig for about two years, kept my Tin Roof gig that at this point I was band leading,  started The Steel Woods with Wes, began my guest lecturing career at high schools and colleges, and was still freelancing around town as well.

In 2018 I got a call from my drummer buddy Nic Johnson for a gig with a new guy, Drew Parker; he had an album cut with Luke Combs, some good songs on his debut EP, and some cool support dates with Dwight Yoakam and Aaron Watson. The money, travel, and lodging sucked, but I saw potential and believed in what we were doing trying to bring back the 90s Country sound, so I stuck around. We took it from one album cut, some smaller support dates, and a bunch of crappy clubs all the way to sold out stadiums, a CMA nomination, three number one songs as a songwriter, and the holy grail, The Grand Ole Opry.

Shortly after I started with Drew we were touring a lot, and I decided to pursue my masters degree. The University of Miami had, and still has, a fantastic online learning platform and is a Billboard top-ranked music business program. I literally earned my degree from the back seat of a 15-passenger van touring around the country. It wasn't easy, but it was so worth it. Part of my degree requirements was a strenuous research element. As fate would have it, two months after I started my program, the Music Modernization Act was signed into law. I took this opportunity to complete my research on a topic that was happening in real time. I eventually published this research and was flabbergasted to learn it ended up being used in over twenty different countries (and counting)! I never thought in a million years that little ole me could make that kind of impact. 


I graduated in December 2019, and in January of 2020 I was offered a job at Bluewater Music, an independent music publisher with the reach of a major. The deal was that I could work remotely and whenever I wanted to, so I could maintain my tour schedule with Drew; we had just landed the What You See Is What You Get tour as support for Luke Combs. Then, in March, the world stopped. The tour dates were postponed without knowing when they could be rescheduled, Lower Broadway and the recording studios were completely shut down, and none of us knew what we were going to do.


Peter Roselli, President of Bluewater Music, was kind enough to let me work more when we had two special (and time consuming) projects land in our laps. Ash Street Music, another independent publisher, decided to close its doors and sell its catalog; we got it for pennies on the dollar and I was heading up the vetting of over 1,200 songs. It was an unforgettable experience tracking all the songs, reading, interpreting, and sometimes renegotiating the contracts, digitizing and organizing the files, and presenting the finished product to our team.


With the successful completion of this project, Peter entrusted me to get Bluewater's catalog ready to be submitted to the Mechanical Licensing Collective, an organization that was created out of the Music Modernization Act as a means of justly compensation songwriters for their works used on digital streaming platforms. The 1,200 song catalog acquisition was a lot of data, but the MLC project was for the entire catalog of one of the largest independent music publishers in the world. I'll put it like this: if I never see another spreadsheet in my life, it will be too soon. Months of crunching data, verifying DSP listings, comparing royalty statements, and finally presenting a finished project - it was all worth it in the end. During this time, remote recording blew up and I completed several remote recording projects as well.

When the world reopened, we had rescheduled tour dates on top of our regular tour dates, Lower Broadway was absolutely booming, and I just didn't have enough time for it all, so I had to make a choice between Bluewater or playing sold out arenas; I chose the arenas. I started getting offers from colleges to be a music business professor but wanted to stay on the road for the time being. In 2022, I felt myself pulling away from touring and decided it would be my last.

After coming off the road, I still had my Tin Roof Broadway residency but was freelancing less often. Tin Roof approached me and asked if I would come on as Entertainment & Talent Development Manager; they needed someone to oversee entertainment for their two busy locations in Nashville, and wanted to start an artist development program. The only downside was that I would no longer be able to perform regularly. After some thought, I came to terms with the fact that I had accomplished my goals as a performer and it was time to further hone my skills on the business side and give back to my music community. I graciously accepted the position and was fulfilled by the work. I was booking over 700 events annually across six stages at two large clubs. I had the opportunity to host some really great events for guys like Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, Mo Pitney, Jerrod Niemann, and Love & Theft. We were able to participate at a new level for CMA Fest, and partner with the Nashville music community through outreaches like the Not So Lame Hangs, where we provided a place for fellowship and to present resources like free or discounted medical and mental healthcare for music industry professionals, and distribute drug-detecting drink coasters. 

While working in this role, I took on some special projects that I feel really impacted the organization and benefitted the musicians who worked with us. Shortly after I started, we decided to move our booking process from the Google Workspace to Gigwell. I participated in the initial roll-out with my colleagues, then led the expansion to integrate our website and Bandsintown, allowing us to promote our events to over 80 million subscribers. These changes took a significant workload off of all the entertainment managers and the musicians, and allowed for greater visibility and marketability for everyone. Once settled in my role, I wanted to expand the way were using our entertainment in the community, so I forged new partnerships with publishers, record labels, management companies, talent agents, and nonprofits; the idea was to provide a space and marketing, and pair up an industry organization with a nonprofit to share original music from both up-and-coming and household-name-artists, raise money and awareness for nonprofits, and bring the Nashville community together in a different way. 

In early 2024, I decided it was time to move back to Florida; after 12 years away, I really missed my family and the ocean. I continued working with Tin Roof until May, but no longer felt I could serve them or the music community to the best of my ability remotely. I decided to take a bit of a sabbatical, and am now looking into ways I can serve the music community here. If you've made it this far and think I could help your music, community, or you, drop me a line and let's talk about it. I'm open to teaching, performing, recording, marketing, artist development, venue management, and just about anything else music-related you can think of.

Much Love,

Jimi Jones

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