Music Cities. That has become a popular catchphrase around the world over the last couple of years, and Toronto can be held responsible for much of this.
Further fuel will be thrown on the fire of blazing interest in the concept of music cities and music tourism at the upcoming Canadian Music Week (CMW) conference. There the subject won’t just get discussed on a single panel, it is actually getting a whole mini-conference on its own.
CMW has just announced "The Mastering Of A Music City" Conference. According to the CMW website, “Global city planners and the music industry take part in Music Canada's and Canadian Music Week's international creative-economy summit, The Mastering Of A Music City. The day-long summit takes place during Canadian Music Week on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at the Sheraton Center, Toronto.”
This is a joint event organized by Music Canada, the international recording industry group IFPI, Music Cities Convention. and Canadian Music Week, with the goal of “exploring in-depth the relationship between creative city planning, quality-of-life and the music industry… The "Music City" is a true 21st Century paradigm - a shared realization that cities across the globe enjoy an often-huge economic dividend from the creation, performance and reception of music."
In an interview with FYI, Music Canada’s Executive V-P Amy Terrill recalled that “Neill Dixon [CMW head] brought Music Canada the idea as a response to the international uptake of our international report on music cities, 'The Mastering of a Music City.' Planning since that day has been undertaken in partnership by CMW and Music Canada.
The direct inspiration was our more recent research on music cities around the world, but that report was inspired by the Austin-Toronto research that we published in 2012 and the responses to that research.”
Music Canada’s extensive research has created serious international interest. “The music cities discussion has been trending around the world for the last year,” notes Terrill. “Our research alone is being used as a roadmap or guide in cities on every continent. We have been asked to help music leaders and city officials in cities including Melbourne, Sydney, Belfast, Columbus, Bogota, Sheffield, Stockholm and Aarhus (Denmark), as well as many cities in Canada - a diverse list! Music city panels are frequently seen on conferences now. There is a thirst for information, best practice, advice and effective strategies.
She adds that “the common theme has been that similar obstacles are present in many cities, and equally, there are similar opportunities. Sharing ideas and experience from one city to another is really helpful. Ultimately there need be no competition between cities - and as far as the music community goes, the more successful music cities, the better. This is why this conference is so valuable.”
The selection of speakers for the CMW conference was a collaborative effort between the organizers, and it is an impressive lineup. Terrill explains that “in designing the program we have reached out for feedback to many leading thinkers in this area, including IFPI and Music Cities Convention. IFPI also sponsored Music Canada's The Mastering of a Music City report. It has been a collaborative effort and more amazing speakers will be added.”
According to a CMW press release, at The Mastering Of A Music City, “Entrepreneurs, industry executives, tourism experts, artists and musicians from London to Nashville will join in sessions that break down the value of the musical creative community from the economic to the esoteric."
Keynote speakers include CEO of IFPI Frances Moore, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics Christopher Thornberg, and Chief Insights Officer of IEG in Chicago Lesa Ukan. Other speakers will include Amy Terrill, Neill Dixon, Graham Henderson (President & CEO of Music Canada), Alison Wenham (CEO of AIM), Jo Dipple (Chief Executive, UK Music), and Mike Tanner, head of the City Of Toronto’s Music Sector Development program and a key figure in the forging of links between “twin” Music Cities Toronto and Austin.
Tanner tells FYI that “I’ve attended a number of events with similar scope, featuring creative thinking about these sorts of economically-based discussions about music. The idea of Music Cities is very much a hot topic, with a lot of cities are really getting on board with the idea. There’s some really interesting work being done in the UK and Australia, for instance. Obviously every city is a music city, but to what degree are you a music-friendly destination? And to what degree are you promoting music as an economic driver as well as a cultural facet of the city?”
Leading music industry figures are already enthusiastic about the Music Cities concept. In a press release, Graham Henderson observes that "Ultimately the goal is to create a more sustainable music community where artists and professionals can enjoy successful careers. We want to see a world without musical borders."
Frances Moore concurs: "Just imagine a world where you can go from country to country and find music cities in every one. That would be good for artists, good for record companies, good for city leaders and good for the wider public that just wants to enjoy great music."
The financial numbers relating to music tourism in some markets are indeed striking. Music UK has done extensive studies on the topic, and their figures for 2014 estimated that £3.1 BILLION ($6.25 billion Can.)was the total direct and indirect spend generated by music tourism in the UK. They found a 39% Increase in the number of overseas music tourists visiting the UK between 2011-2014, and estimated their average spend whilst in the UK as £751 ($1510 Can.).
Figures such as these should certainly catch the eye of revenue-seeking Canadian cities.
The media attention expected to surround the upcoming CMW conference may well help spur action at the local, provincial and national government level to boost Music Cities and encourage music-related tourism.
To Terrill, “it cannot hurt. I think any time we elevate the topic to new platforms or with new audiences, it helps support the people championing these ideas in their communities. Dozens of people have told us that our research bolsters their efforts, for instance, because it provides international validation for the work they are doing."
CMW President Neill Dixon is eagerly anticipating the conference. “We're pleased to continue the Music Cities debate at Canadian Music Week," he says. "The Mastering of a Music City initiative is one of the most exciting we've ever been involved in, with a tremendous potential economic upside."
For more information on the summit, go to musiccitiessummit.com