How Austin Woodruff is Transforming the Music Industry in Nashville
Written by Blake Froistad
Making it in the music industry isn't for the faint of heart. The town of Nashville has drawn in singer-songwriters by the thousands, all looking to be the next star on stage. Grinding it out in coffee shops, smoky bars and in basement recording studios, hoping one day they will be the next sensation singing at sold out venues, and living lavishly in the hills of Belle Meade. But what if "making it" isn't just being the one up on stage. What if the path to making it in Nashville has many roads to success, beyond a voice or picking a guitar. What if instead of producing songs, you could produce a product that nobody else is making, and supports every singer-songwriter big and small. That's just what Class of 2014 Alumni Austin Woodruff set out to do when he co-founded Runway Audio.
It all started when he and his roommate, Tyler Traeger ('15), used to cut it up together while studying Music Business at Belmont. They simply got tired of bad, cheaply made guitar cables and decided they'd make their own. "Why spend thousands on a guitar and amp setup, and only have cheap cables available?" So the two spent the next 6 months researching the missing piece of making a quality cable. The solution: a cable with the lowest capacitance on the market at 20 picofarads per foot. Translation: capacitance refers to the ability to store an electric charge, and the lower it is, the less tone your cable sucks from your guitar on the way to the amp. Using a combination of braided shielding instead of foil, and running it through techflex which protects it from being stepped on, tangled, or slashed, they made the best audio cable in the industry. So good, that they sold out of their first batch, and honestly, the rest is history. These two college sophomores had fulfilled the American Dream, but success really doesn't happen overnight, so let's rewind for a minute.
Turns out this product was actually years in the making, and started with a passion for music at an early age. Before entering his freshman year at Valor, Austin was looking for something he could invest in, "Sports weren't really my thing, but I wanted to find an outlet. I picked up a guitar in middle school and it instantly clicked." He reached out to our worship band leader at the time and was able to join the worship team when he arrived at Valor. From there, he befriended other skilled musicians, got involved in a couple other bands at Valor, and it was all music all the time. Right around this time, Valor hired the legendary Marty Magehee, and the two instantly hit it off. "I got involved in Marty's first songwriting class, but it wasn't a class yet, we just met during business lunch. This really solidified wanting to get involved in music." With Austin's passion for music, Marty's expertise in the industry and Nashville ties, pursuing a music career after Valor became a legitimate goal and opportunity. When it came time for the next chapter, he was off to Belmont to see if this music career would actually pan out. Tyler Traeger was close behind him a year later and that's when the two started this side hustle. In 2019, Austin went full-time with Runway Audio after a brief stint working for a record label after Belmont. They pride themselves on quality, being local in Nashville, and industry experts. But Austin couldn't have been an industry expert if he didn't first pursue his passion of being a singer-songwriter. "Looking back, God always had a plan. I never in a million years thought I'd be here, but it's so obvious He had a plan." God simply grew that passion He instilled in Austin, using all that experience he'd gained through the years to eventually "make it" but not be the one guy on stage, but the guy who makes it all come together.
So just how big is Runway Audio? Well, let their artists speak for themselves: Kings of Leon, Twenty One Pilots, Colony House, and even Gordon Kennedy who plays for Garth Brooks are all using this product. So what's next for the crew at Runway Audio? They're continuing to produce their cables, but will also be releasing professional pedalboard setups as well. Be sure to check out their website and Instagram to dive deeper on their company, and stay up to date on their new products and artists. Austin also hosts a Podcast on their YouTube page as well.