With a knack for developing partnerships between songwriters and publishers to launch musical careers, Mimi McCarley is a pivotal entity that holds many roles on the Nashville music scene. She is inspired by artists who have the audacity to believe in themselves and accompanies them on their journey. She is known for her partnership with Thalia “Muziqueen” Ewing in Nashville Is Not Just Country Music, an organization that aims to cultivate a wide range of music in Nashville. Together, they have become two powers to know.
Growing up in the church in Dayton, Ohio, McCarley felt an attraction to music from an early age. She’s been exposed to funk music, gospel, and Motown, but she hadn’t yet grasped the business side of the industry. She then attended a cooperative high school and majored in radio and television broadcasting.
âIt was a gang of creatives who had access to facilities and recording equipment, so we started experimenting,â says McCarley. “That’s where I got my radio experience, learning to be a program director, an on-air personality, a disc jockey and everything under that umbrella.”
After enrolling at Dillard University in New Orleans, where she obtained an athletic and college scholarship, McCarley realized that studying mass communication would not lead her into the music industry as it did. ‘planned. She made a new friend from Murfreesboro who encouraged her to attend Middle Tennessee State University if she wanted to delve more into music. McCarley immediately took action and transferred to MTSU, where she hit the ground while running.
âIt was a game-changer,â McCarley says with a laugh. “I started to meet all kinds of people – MTSU is a talent pool – from songwriters, artists and teachers to people who knew the industry.”
McCarley credits her easy transition to beloved artist and Murfreesboro legend Big Fella, who helped put her in touch with the who’s-who on campus. She knew her passion was the business side of the industry and she was intrigued by figures such as Clive Davis, Berry Gordy, Diddy and Jay-Z, executives capable of developing talent in diverse communities and encouraging their growth. . While MTSU now has bridges between school and industry, when McCarley graduated she couldn’t find work in the music business and took a part-time job at a local pharmacy. . Throughout this period, she worked with many creative talents and began to manage artists. She discovered that her niche was to bring together musicians to create albums. A few years later, she moved to Nashville with her family and found that many of the relationships she had established at MTSU were still bearing fruit.
âI kept meeting songwriters who had no music and producers who had the music but nothing else,â says McCarley. âI started organizing digital mini-camps where I invited artists and producers to finish and record tracks in two weeks. From that process alone, we made over 40 songs, and I knew I was on to something.
She admits being naive about the technical aspects of the business such as the separate sheets – tools for establishing the parties’ individual holdings in a song they’ve composed – which made it difficult to use the tracks after camp. . Soon she was encouraged to contact Thalia Ewing, known to her friends and colleagues as Muziqueen, who had established relationships with various artists.
âAfter we met, we immediately clicked on a level of energy and musical enterprise,â says McCarley. âI told her I wanted to work with her clients and have a camp with her artists, and she was open and willing. Through this process, we organized a camp and generated around 20 strong leads with the new group. “
With the support of her husband, McCarley then took the risk of devoting himself full time to music. After purchasing his first studio, McCarley sought new goals in independent music publishing and writing music for use under license for film or television, or “music for sync.” She sacrificed a tremendous amount of time and energy on this job, but in two years she has helped complete over 40 records. Then she and Muziqueen officially launched Nashville Is Not Just Country Music and the Urban Writer’s Round series in 2014, and soon after, the duo began expanding their musical work for synchronization.
âWhen Thalia and I formalized our business position, we entered into a joint venture agreement with Riptide Music Group,â says McCarley. âWe started pitching songs there, and it was cool. But they were all the way to LA so there was a bit of a disconnect [at first]. We started going to LA for more opportunities and got to meet the president and other team members, and we built a good alliance in person.
McCarley and Muziqueen constantly pushed the music up while making sure clients like 2’Live Bre and Derek Minor had music to release. At the end of 2020, it was learned that they had landed a sync placement for Minor’s “Who Gon Stop Us” in the hugely popular basketball game. NBA 2K Mobile. They celebrated this moment but also saw it as a sign to push their clients’ work harder than ever. The two try to make their artists understand that staying on the sidelines while putting together the perfect shot slows down any professional momentum they might build.
âThe best way to promote what you do is to broadcast it,â says McCarley. “If we promote you as a songwriter, you have to stay consistent.”
As two black women taking on such an industrial role in the Nashville music scene as publishing – publishing rights are, after all, a key source of income for songwriters – McCarley and Muziqueen had to do facing an uphill battle to be taken seriously. However, they channeled their frustrations by working directly with artists from urban genres neglected for years in Music City. With success stories like Minor’s in their portfolio, McCarley sees an even bigger victory on the horizon: They’ve created an incubator for independent music publishers that also introduces individuals to labels as people with a wide range. range of skills and a catalog of self-published music. They find that their clients appreciate their unique business model and choose them over a company that has been around longer but doesn’t seem as forceful when it comes to innovative practices.
âWhat I love about publishing is that you get paid when artists get paid,â says McCarley. âIt helped us immerse ourselves in learning about label deals, properly supporting artists and funding them in the process. The business is changing, but if you’re not afraid to continue to develop your craft as you go, you’ll be fine. Ultimately, to support an artist’s career, you have to find ways to make money for them.
Throughout his career, McCarley has worked directly with artists to focus on brand development, publishing administration, and supporting artists and labels. That’s a lot of plates to spin, but she’s become quite accustomed to developing a range of potential revenue streams while supporting artists in the sync world.
McCarley hopes to continue to champion artists in various markets while being based in Nashville. She also joined We Own Now, a movement founded by Minor that focuses on promoting and supporting black property – turning black public consumption power into property power. In December, We Own Now will host a pilot talk in Washington, DC, focusing on the wealth gap between black and white communities, with a specific focus on entertainment. McCarley has also partnered with Guidance Whiskey, owned by Jason Ridgel, to bridge the gap between spirits and entertainment. No matter what part of the entertainment world she sees an opportunity in, McCarley is going to find a way to uplift the creatives in the community who can take advantage of it.