TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: this year’s conference programming on Music Cities

By on Thursday, 9th March 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

The idea of developing so-called “music cities” became popular in the music industry following Sound Diplomacy Music Cities Conventions in Brighton and Washington, DC in 2015. Our own editor Mary attended the Music Cities Convention in DC that year and was impressed by the breadth of expertise among the convention attendees, as well as their universal dedication to keeping music alive and well at the community level.

Though Austin certainly already fits the definition of a music city, the SXSW Music Conference picked up on the idea in 2016 with a pair of conference sessions, ‘How To Build A Music City’ and ‘Why Every Music City Should Have A Night Mayor’ specifically geared toward further development of music cities in America. The sessions examined the roles and interactions between “musicians, entrepreneurs, and innovators” and city government representatives in encouraging curation and maintenance of vibrant local music scenes.

PARTYBABY at SXSW 2016

This year’s SXSW Music Conference takes the music cities concept a step or two farther, expanding its offerings on the subject to build upon the foundation laid in last year’s sessions. Two main sessions in the Music Industry track focus directly on building music cities, while a number of other sessions deal with peripherally related topics relevant to supporting music within a city’s infrastructure.

On Thursday the 16th of March, leaders from established music cities will present ‘How To Build A Music City – The Launch’. Their aim is to follow last year’s discussions regarding advocacy and resource management with advice on specific planning processes for building successful music programs and fostering thriving local music communities.

The next day, Friday the 17th of March, expands the music cities concept to a broader global vision, taking on the idea of a vast, worldwide ‘Music Cities Network’. According to the official Conference schedule, “This session will talk necessities, goals, agenda and benefits of a global music cities network. It will focus on knowledge exchange and policy, city development and city marketing.”

JoJo Abot at SXSW 2016

Also in the Music Industry Track are a handful of sessions focused on more specific aspects of local music culture. On the 15th of March, ‘New Nashville: The Evolution of Music Publishing’ will look to Nashville as an established music city to “give examples of current and past ideas that have shaped the industry; what’s working, what’s not working, and what does the future hold?” A condensed Talk 20 session on that same day titled ‘Music Industry Development for Diverse Communities’ will tackle questions such as “How well do we do at supporting and representing the full spectrum of diversity in our communities?” and “How do we balance championing the artists best positioned to have success in the market with the full diversity of the region we represent?” An even more specialised session on the 17th of March called ‘I Remember That Band: Preserving Local Music’ talks about how local music archives get started, how they impact the music scene, and what kinds of information they can provide about their local communities.

More peripherally, the Touring & Live Experience Track features several panel sessions relevant to music culture in smaller cities. ‘How to Sell Your Event to a City’, on the 15th of March, encourages formation of “positive, mutually beneficial, and long lasting relationships with the host cities and their respective tourism boards and local government, by concentrating on increased local economic growth”. Music festivals, specifically, are addressed under topics such as ‘Rethinking the Future of Music Festivals’ (17th March), ‘Families at Music Festivals’ (16th March), and ‘The Definitive Profile of the Festival Superfan’ (16th March), while community-level events in smaller spaces are discussed in ‘Intimate Spaces: Programming Small Venues’ (16th March) and ‘Saving Small Venues & The Independent Music Scene’ (18th March).

The Spook School at SXSW 2016

With their 2017 programming, the SXSW Music Conference is getting behind Sound Diplomacy and the Music Cities Convention’s overarching goals of “improving urban planning, quality of life, city policy and development strategies through music” and exploring “the role and impact of music across education, employment, community building, placemaking, licensing and regulation.” And after 30 years of playing host to SXSW, what better city is there to illustrate the challenges and successes of cultivating a local music scene than Austin itself?

As always, the SXSW Music conference schedule is subject to change; for complete, updated information on Music Conference tracks at SXSW 2017, consult the official SXSW schedule here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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