Rick Thurmond ’94: Transforming Charlotte’s Music Scene

a middle aged white man holds a microphone while speaking on stage in an industrial space

Rick Thurmond ’94 speaking at Confluence, a multi-day festival and music industry conference held in Charlotte.

Rick Thurmond ’94 wants to help Charlotte realize its potential as a music city — a place where local venues thrive and up-and-coming musicians find success. 

As the chief marketing officer at Charlotte Center City Partners, Thurmond markets the city’s vibrant Uptown and South End districts and helps lead a variety of cultural and economic initiatives. Among these is Music Everywhere Charlotte, a nonprofit organization working to transform Charlotte’s music scene by attracting talent, hosting industry-wide events and supporting independent musicians.

“Music has the ability to bring all kinds of different people together,” Thurmond said. “It’s how a city expresses itself, and I felt it was important to foster that and give Charlotte a voice as it continues to form its identity.”

Live music has always been a vital part of Thurmond’s life in Charlotte. After graduating from Davidson College with an English major, he started his first job at a local record store and later highlighted emerging local bands as a writer for Charlotte Magazine. After decades of calling Charlotte his home and watching the ebb and flow of the music scene, he wanted to give back. 

“A vibrant music scene is a really important part of attracting people to Charlotte and making it a more interesting place to live,” he said. “I knew I could use my communication and strategic thinking skills to help put some intention behind that effort.”

Before rolling out their action plan in 2019, Music Everywhere spent a year conducting research and building connections with a diverse group of local music industry leaders. They began conversations with musicians, venues, promoters, studio owners and music journalists to discuss how Charlotte could become nationally recognized as a music city.

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, however, their original plans had to wait. As lockdowns and restrictions devastated music economies across the country, the Music Everywhere team shifted their focus to relief work. 

Thanks to the organization’s strong partnerships throughout the community, they were able to distribute emergency grants to musicians who had lost gigs and make Charlotte the second city in the nation to create a relief fund for independent music venues. 

“That ended up being some of the most satisfying work of my career,” Thurmond said. “We were lucky that we had pulled together the music community prior to COVID. We were able to identify what people needed most, even if that was something as simple as rent money.”

Last year, the organization debuted one of its biggest projects yet: an annual two-day music industry conference called Confluence. Held in October, Confluence brought in more than 50 music industry speakers and showcased live music across various local venues. Thurmond hopes as the conference grows, it becomes the must-attend music industry event in the Carolinas. 

a band on stage with bright lights and a dark background

A musical performance at Confluence.

“We needed to have that tentpole moment to bring people together and shine a light on the work we’ve been doing,” Thurmond said. “It gave artists a chance to make connections within the industry while also giving community members a great way to discover new musicians across all kinds of genres.”

Now, five years after Music Everywhere’s official launch, Thurmond plans to continue expanding the organization’s reach, strengthening its relationships and watching Charlotte’s music scene flourish.

“When I look back through my career, I’ve realized that what I’ve been trying to do all along is create the kind of city I’d like to live in,” he said. “My advice: Figure out what interests you, and then go make it happen where you live.”


  • February 12, 2024