Hand-crafted, community-driven strategies accelerating economic growth in music cities around the world.
After 30 years in the music and entertainment industry, Don Pitts launched Sound Music Cities to help emerging and established music and entertainment cities find practical solutions to sound issues, and grow their music economy.
Having garnered the nickname “The Sound Whisperer” from his tenure as the head of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department’s Music and Entertainment Division where he reduced sound complaints by 70%, Don brings his experience and passion for creating vibrant music cities to Sound Music Cities and its clients.
Originally from Nashville, Don has gone far and wide in the music industry, doing everything from managing bands and venues, to handling entertainment relations for Gibson Guitar, to co-founding the North American Music Cities Summit, to working in the public sector. His strategic perspective lies at the cross-section of these experiences—lending him the ability to navigate and bring together the political and industry landscapes.
While with the City of Austin, Don’s leadership fueled programs increase prosperity for musicians, music businesses and music venues—all important when building a sustainable economic engine.
Have just one conversation with Don and it will become evident that he has a special combination of political know-how, street-smarts and active listening skills—three things that help when beginning to connect the dots over the course of a large music ecosystem project. He always brings a fresh, unbiased perspective and listens for patterns and themes unique to your city. Above all else, Don works alongside clients as a partner, digging deep into the foundational issues that make or break a sound music economy. And at the end, he’ll give you a clear, actionable path forward.
When he’s not advising clients on music-related business or devoting his time to enhancing the quality of the Austin music/musician experience, Don is adding to his collection of rare and vintage western shirts or walking the trails with his family.
Highlights from Don’s leadership of City of Austin Music & Entertainment Division:
Reduced annual sound complaints by 70% from 7,894 in FY2012/13 to 1,932 in FY2015/16.
Developed the Leaders in Austin Music Program through a partnership with Austin Music Foundation, uniting the diverse members of the entertainment businesses while supporting established leaders in their essential role in the creative community.
Commissioned the Austin Music Industry Census, the first data-driven assessment of Austin’s commercial music industry.
Created the North American Music Cities Best Practice Summit that convenes the music and entertainment staff from six North American cities (Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Nashville, Toronto).
Created the Music Venue Assistance Loan Program that supports valuable music venues and reduces sound complaints by offering low interest micro-loans to qualifying establishments for the purpose of enhancing sound quality while reducing sound impact to neighboring uses.
Developed and implemented Music Venue Summits to foster better communication on regulatory processes between the city and venues.
Developed and implemented Music Business Summits to foster better communication and understanding of the various industry subsectors.
Peter brings almost four decades of experience as a musician and a business leader to the team. He recently completed a long-term commercial music industry plan for the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department, Music and Entertainment Division. He was previously for 14 years the executive-in-charge of all of Ray Benson’s holdings, including Asleep at the Wheel and Bismeaux Records. He oversaw album releases and artist management for Carolyn Wonderland, Willie and the Wheel, Raul Malo, A Ride With Bob, Texas Tornados, Wheeler Brothers, Aaron Behrens, and the 2015 GRAMMY-winner Still The King. Earlier experience includes festival coordination, arts programming, album producing, touring musician and composer (as a member and manager of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys), protégé of master Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa, and longtime musical collaborator with his father, Tracy Schwarz, of The New Lost City Ramblers. Schwarz is a graduate of Harvard College (BA) and the McCombs School of Business (MBA).