Music policy leaders from San Antonio, Seattle, Alberta, Milwaukee, New Orleans, San Francisco, Austin, Fort Collins, London Ontario, Victoria BC, Memphis, Washington DC, Toronto, Portland and even from Sweden, connected for two days of intensive discussions and presentations this month in Austin.
Today, let’s talk about venues. Just as musicians contribute to our music ecosystems, live music venues are an equally important part of the equation. This type of thinking needs to be incorporated into governmental operations. Cities of all sizes should be implementing strategies that incorporate best practice policies with venue success in mind.
In our last entry about Music Development Strategies, we discussed the key ingredients needed as a city embarks on creating a successful music development strategy. And the way to get this development underway includes building a vision, researching the potential solutions, and the discipline to create and execute the plan while getting all of your resources to contribute. Having a sound music strategy provides the beneficial economic impact across many sectors including tourism, city brand building, cultural development, and more.
Over the last several years, cities have increasingly recognized the importance of a vibrant and healthy music ecosystem in generating social, cultural and economic benefits. The list of cities that are in various stages of actively developing a music development strategy is growing every year.
While leading Austin’s music development efforts for seven years, I learned that there are fundamental aspects that often get overlooked when working on music policy. Turns out no matter how savvy you are, every meaningful policy initiative—regardless of its projected impact—requires partnerships to work. Having solid, trust-based community relationships is non-negotiable. And every voice matters in those conversations.
Sound impact can be addressed in three ways: through the source, the path, and the receiver. Most sound policy focuses on the role (and responsibilities) of the source, gives scant attention to the path, and overlooks the role of the receiver completely.
When policy does not specifically and proactively address the concerns of future residents in or near an entertainment district, it has made the nightlife economy an easy target for those who do not understand sound management, and gives those trying to solve conflict only two options: turn it down, or turn it off.
Who doesn’t love music? Sure, you might know someone who doesn’t like smooth jazz or have a friend that hates anything but rap. But at the end of the day, music is a powerful force to which we all feel connected.
At Sound Music Cities, we not only love all kinds of music, but we also love what music can do for the heart and soul of a city. Through many years of talking with cities and countries around the world about music policy, community relationships, and cultural tourism, we’ve put together a thorough knowledge base of practical, real-life policy solutions for the most common challenges facing music and entertainment ecosystems.
With a few important best practices in place, we know that every city has the opportunity to start, reinvigorate, or grow their music economy.