What is a Music Census? An official count or survey that quantifies a music ecosystem, which consists of the people, patterns and networks of creative and business professionals producing music–related outputs within a city or region.
Our growing list of partners agree: It all starts with a music census!
Local music scenes are increasingly understood as important drivers of creative economies, civic well-being, and the social fabric of a place. They are complicated ecosystems that appear different to different individuals. To learn about them – especially how we can support them through policy and funding – we need data.
Federal data does not capture the reality of local music scenes. For starters, most of the positions and work in the music sector are not reflected in existing labor codes. As an example, booking agents and artist managers provide vital services in the music industry, and yet this work is buried within larger industry and occupational data. Our proprietary methodology, which originated with the highly regarded 2015 Austin Music Census, focuses on your specific geography and asks questions of real people at the individual level who work in music.
A local or regional music census solves this long-standing issue by directly surveying individuals to enumerate what is really going on within a local music scene. This method collects key information from respondents, including geography, experience, occupation, education, employment, income, music business operations, regulatory impacts, and much more, in order to provide a more accurate measure of the actual industry.
Most importantly, our experience demonstrates that when a census is offered with appropriate community engagement and outreach strategies, music people want to be heard. Their sense of urgency translates into high participation rates and robust data sets.
Data without context can be frustrating, and in-depth analysis of the raw data is necessary in order to design simple and accessible insights for a publicly released report to the community. Once that context is presented and processed by stakeholders, the stage is now set for the community to generate and receive recommendations for action.
Over time, a music census aligns the collaborative efforts of those who wish to grow and support their music scenes.
A common vision for what good looks like guides how the community works together to address regulatory barriers that come into focus, to activate civic and philanthropic resources, and to empower music people to take ownership, not just of their problems, but their solutions as well.
A MUSIC CENSUS SPARKS CHANGE
The impact of this work will go well beyond the data itself. A music census becomes a vessel for understanding, “un-sticking” and carrying forward the experience and history of prior efforts of the music population.
It validates the importance of music makers in the community and local economy and sparks new thinking and conversations. Over time, it brings regulatory barriers into focus, activates civic and community resources, and ultimately, empowers music people to take ownership, not just of challenges, but of opportunities as well.