To build a Music City

1. Music-friendly and musician-friendly policies Government policies have a direct impact on the ability of music businesses such as live performance venues, recording studios and rehearsal spaces to operate sustainably. Business licensing, liquor licensing, transportation planning and parking, as well as land-use planning all have an impact on the health of the music economy. Compliance requirements should be appropriate without becoming a barrier to doing business. Many communities face challenging decisions regarding land-use planning as a result of gentrification and urban growth. In some cities, historically significant music properties are threatened or have already been lost. Solutions to these challenges include heritage designations, cultural zones and policies based on the “agent of change” principle. Similarly, musicians, singers, songwriters and producers can be helped or hindered by the government policy environment. Successful Music Cities create a supportive environment for artists so that they can focus on doing what they do best: making music. Support can be in the form of training and education programs, mentoring, access to hubs or incubators and affordable housing.

2. A Music Office or Officer

Navigating the broad range of government policies and regulations that impact music can pose significant challenges for music communities. Cities that have established a single point of contact for the music community, in the form of a music office or officer, are better positioned to build their music economy and develop effective policies. Music offices typically lead city music strategy development and mediate conflicts that arise between music businesses and the larger community. Music officers most often have prior experience in music or another creative sector that gives them invaluable sector knowledge

3. A Music Advisory Board

Music Advisory Boards or Commissions provide an invaluable link between the music community and City Hall. Advisory Boards are typically composed of representatives from a broad cross-section of the music community, but also often include professionals engaged in related industries such as tourism and economic development. They are also an ideal forum for the music community to develop internal consensus on issues, and provide advice on the legislative and regulatory environment.

4. Engaging the broader music community to get their buy-in and support

The involvement of the people most affected by music strategies is critical to the success of a Music City. Collaboration across the different segments of the music community doesn’t always come naturally as the sector is composed primarily of small and medium-sized businesses. Many operators of these businesses wear various hats, work only part-time in music, and struggle just to make a living. However, evidence shows that cooperation and collaboration across the sector can lead to significant improvements to the regulatory and business environments, and are also the most effective means of gaining support from political leaders.

5. Access to spaces and places Music needs a home; in fact, it needs many homes.

From education to rehearsal to recording to performance, Music Cities require a variety of quality spaces and places to succeed. To meet this need, the first step is to take inventory so that gaps can be identified. For live performances, a full range of venues is essential to support artists as they advance through their careers – everything from small basement venues to stadiums and all points in between. Frequently, venues and other music businesses cluster together, enhancing their success. Hubs and accelerators are also proving to be very effective in different cities around the globe.

6. Audience development

Demographics play an important role in audience development; in particular, large student populations are identified as an advantage in many Music Cities. All-ages events can help engage younger audiences, thereby encouraging youth to develop a lifelong relationship with music. Factors like a community’s proximity to other music markets, transportation links and promotion of live music events influence audience development. A common challenge is building an audience for local performers, who often fall under the shadow of high profile global stars.


Development Activity Planning

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Activity Planning Series

1. Creating music friendly and musicianship friendly policies

2. Establish a music office


3. Music advisory board

4. Engage support from the music community


5. Ensuring space and places


6. Supporting audience development


7. Establish a music tourism


7. Music tourism Music tourism benefits cities to the tune of billions of dollars each year.

Tourism assets include a city’s year-round live music scene, music festivals and historical music landmarks. A few cities have developed comprehensive music tourism strategies that involve music-based branding, promotional campaigns, wayfinding apps and other social media strategies, investment in music infrastructure and signage, and programming. Accurate measurement of music tourism is a common gap since it is normally grouped with cultural tourism.

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