First Union Corp. is crooning a new tune in Nashville.
After launching a music and entertainment division in the nation's country music capital last year, the North Carolina-based banking company is building a $750,000 home for the banking unit in a bid to boost its share of the $2 billion Nashville music industry.
A drive-through lane big enough to accommodate a concert tour bus and a conference room table that resembles a compact disc distinguish the center from other First Union branches.
First Union vice president Joe Moscheo2d, a former backup singer for Elvis Presley, said he hopes to throw parties in the banking center's media room every time a client's song hits No. 1.
"I would love to know I'm banking somebody who is going to be the next Garth Brooks, the next superstar," said Mr. Moscheo, who oversees the new division.
The music and entertainment unit, which operates under the First Union private banking group, is courting performers and support businesses, offering them a range of cash management and debt financing services, as well as loans for everything from airplanes to recording studios.
First Union's moves in Nashville come at a time when the music industry there is booming. The growth is fueled by the presence of entertainment companies such as RCA, Sony Corp., and Capital Records, in addition to numerous recording artists, songwriters, and video and film producers.
First Union competitors NationsBank Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. are established players in courting the music and entertainment industry in Nashville. Indeed, after starting its own dedicated division in 1994, NationsBank opened a new "Music Row" banking center last November that includes a private room reserved for songwriters who need a quiet place to work. The division employs 30 people, said NationsBank spokesman Fred Hannon.
Mr. Moscheo acknowledged First Union is playing catch-up, but he said he hopes that his 25-year career in the music industry will give him an edge over competitors. Additionally, the high-tech audio and video equipment included in the First Union facility and the private security entrance to the music/entertainment center should be a competitive advantage, he added.
After getting the business off the ground in Nashville, First Union plans to expand the division's reach to other cities with large music and entertainment industries, like Atlanta and Miami, said Mr. Moscheo.
Memphis is also on his agenda.
"I'm still friends with Priscilla and Lisa Marie," he said of Elvis Presley's former wife and daughter. "I'm working on getting their business." u