Working with Sound Music Cities on the first-ever Charlotte Music Ecosystem Study and Action Plan has been an excellent experience. Don and Peter have been true partners in our initiative to grow the Charlotte music scene and economy. The deliverables have been outstanding, but I believe it is their focus on achieving long term, sustainable success that sets them apart. They went above and beyond to understand our situation and needs, and they pushed us to consider the Charlotte music ecosystem from new angles. They brought the industry experience, data smarts and street cred that we needed. And they quickly became accepted by the Charlotte music community, building trust from the very first meeting. We are creating a movement in Charlotte, and we simply could not have done it without Sound Music Cities.
I can’t say enough about Don as a strategic partner. He understands how
to get stakeholders with frequently opposing interests to come to a consensus and to feel good about it. That commitment to creating working relationships was essential for our work here in Austin.
During his seven years inside Austin’s city government, Pitts was something of a trailblazer, tasked with diagnosing and treating the many problems facing the music economy, large and small.
We contracted with Sound Music Cities to conduct a study of the Pittsburgh music ecosystem with specific emphasis on the economic activity of the sector and regulatory environment as it relates to music performance and entertainment in the city. Sound Music Cities conducted one-on-one meetings, focus groups, designed a Town Hall meeting and fielded an extensive on-line survey that was taken by about 1,800 music industry folks. Our goal was to cast as wide a net as possible and to gather feedback and data from the most diverse cross section of the music community as we could. In the end, I am extremely pleased with the results. The report generated by Sound Music Cities was very well crafted and was received positively by some of the harshest critics of the project when it launched. Sound Music Cities brought the depth of knowledge and expertise along with the collaborative spirit and intuitive approach to team building that the project needed to maintain credibility. I have complete confidence in Sound Music Cities and their team to move a project of this magnitude forward.
Just like music is not just notes on a page, a music economy depends upon a dedicated team working together, including venues, musicians, sound engineers, and the many government services to develop progressive policy and coordination. Don Pitts brings unique insights on how to meld these resources in harmony and assist your city to realize its full potential as a music city.
Don Pitts is, without a doubt, one of the global leaders in music city strategy development and implementation, with hands-on experience leading Austin, one of the busiest music cities in the world. Don exhibits the rare combination of outstanding political acuity and street-smart negotiation skills, which enables him to navigate both the political world, and the music industry landscape. He is always open to new ideas, and is a patient mentor and coach.
When it comes to sound ordinance issues, Don Pitts is the best thing since sliced bread.
Don is the leading voice on sound management in cities. So much of Austin’s success as a music city is the behind-the-scenes work Don has done to craft sound and noise policies that both support musicians and venues, but also businesses and local residents. He’s made a lot of elected officials look good by keeping one of the most vibrant music cities in the US moving forward with far fewer cranky calls from neighbors than one would expect. To be more accurate, he’s reduced noise complaints in Austin by 70% over three years. Anyone who has visited Austin, especially during SXSW, knows that is nothing short of a miracle. Don easily translates his experiences in Austin to other cities regardless of size and local dynamics, which is why he’s a leader in the global music cities movement.
Don Pitts is the sound whisperer. This is not an easily achieved title. Don has successfully led Austin in striking a balance between all parties that has resulted in a 70% drop in noise complaints. He is an ace at balancing the needs of the music and nightlife industry with the needs of community. As one of the foremost leaders of music city strategy, Don’s vision moves cities and music scenes forward in a holistically balanced way. I have called on him to consult about difficult situations here in Seattle, and he has consistently been a source of wise counsel and great resource. I am thrilled that Don has launched Sound Music Cities so that he can share his vast knowledge with other cities around the country.
Don Pitts is a trailblazer in American music having been the first City Music Manager for Austin, one of the country’s most important creative centers. As the face of Austin music, Don has handled every challenge common to all music cities. One of the most daunting topical issues relates to inclusion and equity in the industry, and Don has led local efforts to build consensus across ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural lines. Don’s inclusive vision for Austin’s music ecosystem has enabled him to earn the complete trust of stakeholders as the guiding force that binds the industry with neighborhoods, business, education and government.
Don has a unique ability to work with both venues and neighbors as a genuine friend and advocate. We have enjoyed the benefit of his willingness to set realistic expectations on all fronts, while pushing the boundaries to achieve the greatest good for the City as a whole. Don thinks outside the box when obstacles present themselves, and is always looking for the right combination of dots to connect so that parties who may have been historically adversarial, actually find common ground. There would not be and MVA Austin without Don, and I look forward to our continuing work together to bring harmony to our beautiful music city.