Zak Kuhn is an entertainment entrepreneur and media personality always at the intersection of music and culture through his various ventures.
Most notably, he is the founder and CEO of The Nashville Briefing, a newsletter that covers the confluence of country music and the global music industry. In just a few years, the trusted newsletter has amassed thousands of subscribers spanning all walks of the industry and is currently expanding its footprint to include community events and editorial features such as its acclaimed 30 Under 30 list.
He also hosts The Zak Kuhn Show, a podcast where he interviews entertainment leaders, legends and icons. Additionally, Kuhn is a consultant for various music companies and projects, including May We All: A New Country Musical, where he is a producer responsible for industry and talent relations.
His wider career includes stints at Azoff Entertainment, Vector Management, Razor & Tie, Riser House, among others. Kuhn is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and is originally from New York.
We caught up with Zak for our Liner Notes series to find out more about her musical tastes and journey over the years, as well as some recent work she’s proud of and admired.
Zack, tell us…
Your first musical memory.
Growing up in New York, my first musical memory is going to see Broadway musicals. I hung around in my seat trying to catch a glimpse of the musicians in the pit. This is where I thought the real action was.
Your first gig.
My first gig was Aerosmith and ZZ Top at Jones Beach. The show was delayed for hours due to thunderstorms, but when it finally started, ZZ Top was playing as lightning flashed behind them in the distance. It’s still one of the best concert visuals I’ve ever seen. It may sound cliché, but I knew that night I was going to be working in the music industry.
Your favorite bands/musicians.
It’s changing, but lately Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler have been very high on the list. I love guitarists like Mark who have a unique voice on the instrument that is instantly recognizable. I also like musicians who have incredible technical abilities, but who create music that can be enjoyed by the masses. That’s what’s so great about Dire Straits. The playing on these records is so technical but so musical. Mark makes guitar playing fun.
How do you get your music these days.
Here in Nashville, there are so many writers’ showcases and rounds every night. This is where I discover great music and rising artists.
Your favorite place to see a concert.
Nothing beats a good arena show in my mind. There’s no better feeling than when the lights go out on a big show. It’s a moment of quick anticipation but I could live in it forever.
Your favorite music video.
The music video for “Sweet Child O’ Mine” comes to mind. I watched it so many times when I was in college. The band looks so cool! Also another great example of a band with great technical ability that made music for the masses.
Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.
I listen to Bob Lefsetz’s podcast every week. He always has good guests and draws great stories from them. Being here in Nashville, he recently posted an interview with Dann Huff that is a must for anyone in the country music industry.
A recent project you are proud of.
I’m currently co-producer of the Florida Georgia Line musical May We All, which will open at the Tennessee Performing Art Center this summer for 10 weeks. It’s the first major musical to be developed in Nashville, and it was a pleasure to play a small part in it.