Cost, connectivity and communication are driving some to depart one of music's most prestigious neighborhoods.

NASHVILLE -- The house at the corner of 16th Avenue South and Tremont Street has served Mary Hilliard Harrington well for six years. From that post in the Music Row neighborhood, she has watched as her company, The Green Room PR, a music industry-focused public relations firm, has tripled in size and come to count Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley as clients.
But the little house has become restrictive as The Green Room has grown. So Harrington is trading in the quaint office space next month for a contrasting view of exposed brick, high ceilings and an open floor plan.
The move means giving up the firm's address in a neighborhood long favored by the music industry for a mailbox in the emerging SoBro neighborhood. Fifteen years ago, such a decision would have seemed to fly in the face of logic. Today, though, Harrington is on trend.
"I'm not concerned about moving off the Row at all," Harrington said. "I think a lot of the music business is spreading out."
From SoBro to Berry Hill and suburban Franklin, the physical presence of the Nashville music industry is shifting.
And while it is hardly time to write an obituary for Music Row — it still is at the heart of the music business -- the place no longer holds the cachet it once did as the aspirational neighborhood of music-related businesses in Nashville.
Back Row story
Music Row was birthed in the 1950s. The stretch's origin is traced to the opening of the Quonset Hut, a recording studio created by country music station WSM's band leader and music director Owen Bradley in 1958. Other studios soon followed, as did music publishers and record labels. A clustering of sorts began to take shape. In just a few years, and helped along by the success of such artists as Bob Dylan and Elvis who recorded there, the Music Row studios made Nashville a recording mecca.
Still, for a place that has served as home base for many of the leading decision makers in the music world, the landscape is unassuming. With the exception of a few companies such as BMI, which occupies a massive building on Music Square East, studios and management and public relations firms on the Row often are located in houses. If not for the signs out front, they easily could be mistaken for residences.
"A lot of folks view Music Row as somewhat of a campus environment," said Lisa Harless, senior vice president of the entertainment and sports division at Regions Bank. "For folks on the Row, it's not uncommon to walk from a board meeting at ASCAP to Regions to do your banking to a meeting with a business manager."
The reasons for the decentralization of that campus are as varied as the businesses themselves, which included major labels such as Universal Music Group, which left Music Square E


"I wanted the kind of environment where we could all see each other and bounce ideas off of each other," she said. "I really wanted a more creative-feeling environment for (employees) and my clients and anyone coming in for meetings. What we do here is creative, and I really wanted our space to reflect that."
Cliff O'Sullivan, general manager and senior vice president of Sugar Hill Records, said cyber connectivity makes being in close physical proximity to other music businesses less of a necessity.
"We're all on email 20 hours a day anyway," said O'Sullivan, who considered moving Sugar Hill to Music Row but has chosen to go to suburban Franklin instead. "We're a community in a much different way."
Changing neighborhood