Music Cities Convention DC 2015 Roundup

By on Wednesday, 28th October 2015 at 2:00 pm

Long-time readers of TGTF are aware I’m no stranger to travelling to the UK to attend conferences and meetings. This past Sunday, however, I was invited along for a special opportunity that required no travel longer than an hour, for where I was going was less than 30 miles away at Georgetown University. Hmm, I could really get used to this… So this afternoon, I’ll be telling you about the first DC event of the Music Cities Convention, only the second to follow the inaugural event that took place in Brighton the week of the Great Escape 2015.

Music Cities Convention is described in the convention programme as “the global gathering to focus on the relationship between city planning, strategy, development, regeneration and the music industry”. Unlike other conferences I have attended in the past, filled primarily with record label folk, A&R bods, publicists, journalists, bloggers and musicians, Music Cities have a different, much wider breadth of attendees, all with at least a toe or hand somehow related to keeping the music industry thriving. This meeting in DC was filled with those representing local industries, supporting musicians and their livelihoods, and who work in education, housing and transit policy.

Every city and the parts that make up its local music industry are unique. Something that became clear quickly just by skimming the convention’s programme was its incredible international representation. What other meeting could you attend where you would be hearing presentations as varied as:

• a detailed assessment on the many facets of what makes Austin such an important music city in the first-ever city level music industry census (Nikki Rowling, Titan Music Group)

• the benefits of city ‘twinning’ for both the city and musicians involved in the case study of Belfast and Nashville (Mark Gordon, Generator Northern Ireland and Tracy D. Kane, City of Nashville)

• based on past successes, the confidence to commit to a 10-year festival plan in Sweden (Stefan Papangelis, City of Norrkoping)

• the development of a Culture and Development and Initiatives (CDI) team for a Canadian city not traditionally associated with a big music industry (Kwende Kefentse and Ian Swain, City of Ottawa)

• assessment, then development of a live music task force specific to an individual Australian city’s challenges (John Wardle, National Live Music Office of Australia)

• how to attract artists to play shows and events at a less central city in Sweden by supporting the artists directly and having intelligent urban planning and infrastructure already in place (Fredrik Sandsten, City of Gothenburg)

• keeping musicians employed and housed while supporting and benefiting local at-risk children (Ismail Guerrero, Denver Housing Authority and Jami Duffy, Youth on Record)

I was really impressed by all the presentations on Sunday. Immediately evident each time a different presenter took to the podium was that person’s passion for this business and his/her hard work in bettering the industry in their part of the world. Taken together, the programme was a massive reminder of how important we all are in keeping the music industry alive – and thriving! – and how many different parts of this industry there are – and how important the passion of the people in those parts of the industry – are in continuing on that path.

Each country, including my own here in America, has its own challenges in the years ahead. But by working together, and coming together via groups like Music Cities, we can grow and learn from each other’s experiences and ultimately help musicians making music and keep their livelihoods and grow the industry, both on the local and global scale. The world has become so much smaller thanks to technology and the internet, and it’s not just a choice, it’s now our duty to make and keep connections across the globe and keep the music industry a viable one for generations to come.

Thanks very much to Dr. Shain Shapiro, Martin Elbourne, Michael Bracy and the entire Music Cities Convention steering committee for their kind allowance for me to attend. For more information on Music Cities, please visit their official Web site.

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