Donna Missal at SXSW 2019
Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns/Getty Images
Report: How Music Creates Jobs, Drives Tourism, Improves Wellness & More
For anyone working in the music world, Austin, Texas is the place to be in mid-March each year. South By Southwest brings together the industry's brightest minds, biggest players and sharpest talents to explore the business and craft of music. Attendees network, listen and soak up wisdom to bring home and implement in their own music communities, wherever they may be. For over three decades, this ritual has helped music professionals tackle the challenges of building and sustaining music in their city.
Who does your music policy impact? Who is responsible for music policy in a city? Find out answers to these burning questions & more in The Music Cities Manual, available now at https://t.co/xNc2Feje4r pic.twitter.com/yLeU32Bf3I
— Sound Diplomacy (@SoundDiplomacy) March 14, 2019
In the spirit of this connectivity of resources, and to coincide with this year's SXSW, international strategic consultants Sound Diplomacy released a special report titled "The Music Cities Manual: How Music Increases Economic, Social And Cultural Growth In Your City." The extensive report details the what, why and how of supporting music locally through everything from city policy to education and communication and beyond, providing a fresh and tangible idea bank for music people in cities and towns of all sizes to spur and sustain growth.
As partners of the Recording Academy, Sound Diplomacy shares the mission of supporting music by thinking big but starting small and understanding the power of local music markets have to lift up the industry at large. The Academy's 12 Chapters serve music communities nationwide based on the core philosophy that when local music economies innovate and thrive, the entire community benefits. Many of the principles in Sound Diplomacy's report speak directly to the work the Academy does each day to keep music strong across a diverse array of local marketplaces.
Inside The Music Cities Manual
"The Music Cities Manual" describes itself as "a set of tools, case studies and lessons to increase the value of music in your city," i.e., a report for everyone involved in the music process from musicians to developers, city government to bar owners and festivals to hoteliers. The report also showcases music's uncanny ability to create jobs, drive tourism, enhance social inclusion and even improve wellness. However, as the report points out, "few cities understand how to plan, manage and develop music for economic, social and cultural gain."
In other words, how can cities best optimize the power of music to benefit their local economy?
"Music pumps from speakers in shopping malls and metro stations, hospitals and car parks. From choirs in churches to the call to prayer, from the boardrooms of our multinational record labels to the basement of a pub, music fosters creativity, dialogue, creates commerce and incubates talent."
Music As Infrastructure
In order to solve a problem, we must first understand it. Sound Diplomacy's method outlines 13 key indicators of a thriving music policy, centering around the idea that music is infrastructure. This means city governance declaring, through official communication, music's importance to its community. Let's look to the Midwest: The report cites Chicago's 2007 Chicago Music Policy as one of the first to send this message to not only its own local community, but to people everywhere about the importance of music's role in Chicago.
The report's 13 key indicators are chock-full of resources for action items such as creating a coalition, asset mapping, sparking tourism, supporting venues, encouraging entrepreneurs, expanding music education, and prioritizing affordability. All of these measures speak to a connectivity between creatives, policymakers and business owners that can grow a city's music community in a healthy and lasting way.
Cities As Agents Of Change
Sound Diplomacy also presents several case studies, taking a closer look at Melbourne, Australia's "Agent Of Change" principle, which set new obligations on property developers to adequately soundproof buildings within 50 feet of an existing venue, London's Music Venue Trust task force, which provided an outline for the city's grassroots venues to thrive, and New York City's repeal of its outdated Cabaret Law, making the Big Apple much for more friendlier for live music and entertainment. These real-world cases provide easily relatable change examples, and considering the sheer size of the cities referenced, the notion of making an impact in smaller music communities seems far less daunting.
Our #NewYork Chapter celebrated the 61st #GRAMMYs nominees, including producers, songwriters, and engineers earlier this week.
Find out who takes home GRAMMY gold on Feb. 10! pic.twitter.com/3XnYTnFYLn
— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (@RecordingAcad) January 31, 2019
Creating Inter-City Music Networks
In fact, the report goes another step to show how connection between music cities can benefit local markets on a global scale, examining Music Cities Network, a resource for improving communication and cooperation between music communities around the world. This is just one tool the report offers toward its encouragement to "be international," by starting, "With your sister cities and existing partnerships in other municipal departments, from tourism to economic development."
This top-down and bottom-up approach provides everyone who touches or is affected by music with steps to take toward a stronger community. And the best news is the benefits of a healthy music city go beyond cultural, social and even economic areas. Music's ability to improve health and wellbeing means, as the report states, "Better, happier, more efficient people, from birth to death."
As thousands descend upon Austin and SXSW 2019 kicks off its Music Conference, the Sound Diplomacy report provides the framework to implement new ideas across the musical landscape in any town, making the adage of "think globally, act locally" more than a bumper sticker.
Likewise, the Recording Academy continues its work on behalf of music creators across many tiers of the industry, from local events to educate and connect members to game-changing Advocacy work on Capitol Hill. Through these tireless efforts, and projects such as working with Sound Diplomacy in its Chapter cities, the Academy continues to support and foster a better tomorrow for music.