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The Mastering of a Music City

Key elements, effective strategies & why it's worth pursuing

May 25, 201625 May 2016


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This report, based on a literature review, over 40 expert interviews, and two international focus group sessions, aims to provide a “roadmap” for the development of music, especially the commercial music sector, in municipalities of any size, anywhere in the world. The report outlines five essential elements of “music cities”:

  • The presence of “artists and musicians;
  • A thriving music scene;
  • Access to spaces and places;
  • A receptive and engaged audience; and
  • Record labels and other music-related businesses”.

Regarding the benefits of being a music city, the report outlines “job creation, economic growth, tourism development, city brand building and artistic growth”. Recognition as a music city can also contribute to attracting businesses in other industries as well as talented professionals.

Seven key strategies are recommended to enhance a city’s music sector:

  1. “Music-friendly and musician-friendly policies”, including “business licensing, liquor licensing, transportation planning and parking, as well as land-use planning”. Also important are “a supporting environment for artists” including training, education, mentorship, hubs or incubators, and affordable housing.
  2. “A single point of contact for the music community, in the form of a music office or officer”.
  3. “A music advisory board”, which can “provide an invaluable link between the music community and City Hall”.
  4. “Engaging the broader music community to get their buy-in and support”.
  5. “Access to spaces and places”, because music “needs many homes. From education to rehearsal to recording to performance, Music Cities require a variety of quality spaces and places to succeed.”
  6. “Audience development”, via “proximity to other music markets, transportation links, and promotion of live music events”. A key challenge in this area is “building an audience for local performers”, not just international stars.
  7. “Music tourism”, building on assets such as “a city’s year-round live music scene, music festivals and historical music landmarks”. A comprehensive music tourism strategy would be the most in-depth development of this idea.

The report identifies key research elements to underpin these strategies, including:

  • “Economic impact studies;
  • Music tourism impact studies;
  • Business inventories;
  • Needs assessments; and
  • Resource guides.”

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