Graham Henderson is the President & CEO of Music Canada, which, with IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), has produced “The Mastering of a Music City“, a new study to be revealed exclusively at Midem 2015. Find out more below!
midemblog: How did this report come about initially? Why did you decide to get involved in it?
In 2012, Music Canada published a study comparing and contrasting Austin, Texas and Toronto, Ontario. The report is entitled, Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth – Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas. The report, which contains 16 recommendations for Toronto, generated a significant amount of interest from cities as far away as Adelaide, Australia, to Chicago, Illinois to small towns and cities in Canada. Many people were asking us to provide recommendations for their cities. It became clear that there was a great deal of interest in this topic and that people around the world were looking for a roadmap that they could use to grow the music economy. IFPI, meanwhile, had also received a great deal of questions about the work and together we decided to undertake a global study that would create a roadmap for communities of any size.
> Austin is the most obvious Music City. Which are the most promising developing ones? And how much can they learn from Austin?
There are several Music Cities that come immediately to mind, in fact. London, Liverpool, Berlin, Nashville, Austin, New Orleans – just to name a few. Each of these cities has best practices to share. In our study we spoke to over 40 people from 22 different cities around the world. Some excel in music tourism strategies like Austin and Nashville; while others are tackling some of the most difficult planning issues that face cities with an active nightlife economy and growing urban density, like Melbourne, Montreal and San Francisco. Still others, like Adelaide and Bogota, are exploring ways to ensure both artists and the companies that support them, are thriving. No single city has figured everything out, so there is a great deal that can be shared from one city to another.
> Noise complaints are a growing problem for music development in cities. What are the best ways to tackle this? Is the ‘Agent of Change’ principle always applicable?
Many cities are struggling with the balance between residential developments and existing land uses which can include music venues. Ironically, often it is the music venues and other nightlife activities that draw residents to move into the city’s core, and yet, sometimes these preexisting businesses get forced out by noise complaints and onerous regulations, or higher rents and property values. The Agent of Change principle — whereby new properties have to be soundproofed if established music venues are nearby — has been used in the State of Victoria in Australia, but can become a hurdle for the development of new music venues. Other planning tools that can be used are Heritage Designations and Cultural Zones. Ultimately, the solution depends on the local circumstances.
> Some city employees teach music to young offenders as an alternative to community service. Could this be a part of Music Cities?
Of course! Any activities related to music can be part of a music city programme. Andre Le Roux of the SAMRO Foundation in South Africa, who contributed to our report, spoke very eloquently about the power of music to bridge cultural, language and income gaps. South Africa has one of the largest income gaps in the world, with high levels of crime and unemployment. Le Roux believes that a more active music scene will unite people together under a unified cultural umbrella, overcoming some of these barriers.
> Is the ultimate goal of music city development generating new value for music as recorded revenues continue to suffer? Or something else? What would the report’s one key takeaway for music professionals and artists be?
Music is, of course, first and foremost a form of cultural expression but by demonstrating the larger benefits of music to city governments, tourism officials and other allied organisations, a strong argument can be made to create the conditions where music can flourish. This should remove barriers to performing and creating music. Ultimately the goal is to create a more sustainable music community where artists and professionals can enjoy successful careers.
IFPI and Music Canada officials will reveal some of the winning strategies of today’s global music cities at the conference session “A “Music City’ Road Map” on June 7 at 15.20 at Midem 2015, by which time the report will have been revealed to the press, also at Midem, on June 5 at 12.00.