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Sound Diplomacy says cities should put music at the heart of the post-COVID-19 recovery

By | Published on Thursday 14 May 2020

Sound Diplomacy

Music consultancy Sound Diplomacy has launched a new globally-focused campaign called #BetterMusicCities which it describes as “a call to action to ensure music is at the heart of [post-COVID-19] recovery in cities around the world”.

A report published by the company begins with a foreword from the CEO of the UK’s Association Of Independent Music Paul Pacifico, who explains: “The opportunity to listen to music, practice an instrument, take a dance class or participate in Zoom choirs has been an anchor to many of us in this time of crisis. Music, like almost nothing else, has fostered and perpetuated a sense of community and connection in moments of our most profound isolation”.

He goes on: “For decades, sport has successfully made the case that it delivers unarguable returns on investment in terms of public health and wellbeing. But music has never quite managed to make its case in that arena. Now, in the most bleak moments of this current crisis, we see clearly the need, the impact and the results of music and culture in delivering positive outcomes in both physical and mental health. Music has demonstrated the power and benefits of social prescribing like never before”.

Cities, governments and music communities around the world should embrace this, Sound Diplomacy’s report argues. The consultancy’s founder Shain Shapiro says: “There are few music offices in cities around the world. Music education is in decline. Many relief programmes to support creatives are challenging for musicians to access. In some countries, there are little intellectual property protections for musicians”.

“Yet, we all need music”, he adds. “The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates music as a global unifier – from balconies in Europe to bedrooms live streaming raves around the world. But music – as an ecosystem – lacks investment. We can change this and together, build #BetterMusicCities”.

The report provides a nine-point plan for cities to embrace, enhance and support music and the music community. It suggests cities:

1. Put artists to work: Incentivise creation from crisis.
2. Convert creativity into community investment vehicles.
3. Create a city music registry.
4. Start a cultural infrastructure plan.
5. Create emergency preparedness plans (venue, event, city-wide).
6. Ensure music, arts and culture language is included in policy frameworks.
7. Commit to genre agnosticism.
8. Plan and develop a night time economy policy.
9. Set-up city-wide artist compensation policies, music liaison services and fair play schemes.

The company says these things will “support cities to better leverage their music economies – from artists to education, venues to local scenes – to create more inclusive, prosperous music communities as we move towards recovery. To do so, we require intentional policy that includes musicians and music representatives in discussions around recovery and resilience”.

You can download the full report at