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The Mastering of a Music City Summit: Recap

Last Friday, policymakers, city planners and global music industry representatives took part in Music Canada’s and Canadian Music Week’s international music cities summit, “The Mastering of a Music City.”

The summit was based on Music Canada’s 2015 report of the same name, which set out a roadmap for cities to become Music Cities—by supporting the music sector and realizing the often-huge economic dividends from the creation, performance, and reception of music. The Mastering of a Music City Summit was curated and hosted by Music Canada Executive Vice President Amy Terrill.

In its second year, the event was a remarkable success, attended by a cross section of people from all over the world—from Canada and the United States to Poland, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Jamaica, Columbia, and more. While the summit was attended in person by nearly 200 entrepreneurs, city planners, music industry executives, artists, and musicians, over 5,000 people from around the world tuned in to watch the livestream of the event.

One of the many highlights of the day was an opening address from Toronto Mayor John Tory which functioned as a ‘state of the music industry’ for the Music City. The mayor highlighted the strength of the music scene and the progress the city has made so far, including: creating the music in parks permit, changes to musician loading/unloading zones, the mayor’s evening for the arts, and attaching local music to city services like 311.

In his speech, the mayor articulated his vision and goals for the city’s music industry in 2017.

  • The city will aim to lead more live music events, including showcases, abroad and at home, and will create over 200 city-led opportunities for artists over the next year.
  • The city will make music part of the planning process at city hall by putting a motion to council that would notify new developments of existing nearby music venues. The mayor will also classify music as an eligible activity in the city’s employment lands.
  • The city will support music tourism by bringing local musicians to the city’s airports, and programming a Winterlicious-style music event to boost activity in the off-season.

“The creativity, the joy, the talent that music brings to a big city lies at the heart of what makes Toronto dynamic and innovative,” Tory said. “I am absolutely committed to the music industry and playing the part city hall is meant to play.”

The Role of Advocates

Helen Marcou, owner of Bakehouse Studio in Melbourne, Australia, delivered the opening keynote presentation on The Role of Advocates: A Story of Successfully Fighting for Your Music City.

When stringent and high cost regulations forced a storied punk rock venue in Melbourne to close, and another 126 venues to reduce their programming, Marcou began a movement called Save Live Australia’s Music, or SLAM.

The campaign had a simple but effective message, “don’t kill live music,” was inclusive and non-partisan, and brought over 20,000 supporters out to the steps of the legislature. When the campaign was over, laws were amended and a permanent voice for the music community created in the form of a music advisory body.

Marcou continues to advocate for live music, but spoke about her more recent efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment of women in live music venues and at music festivals. When Marcou penned a letter to government calling for action, the state created a taskforce to combat sexual harassment at live music venues.

Music City Leaders

The Music City Leaders Panel asked key questions of elected officials who have identified music as a key strategy or economic sector in their cities. Panelists included Karl Dean, former mayor of Nashville; John Tory, Mayor of Toronto; Filippo del Corno, Assessore alla Cultura, City of Milan; Maria Claudia Lopez Sorzano, Secretary of Culture, Recreation and Sports, City of Bogota; Delroy Williams, Mayor of Kingston, Jamaica; and Manon Gauthier, Member of the City of Montreal Executive Committee, City of Montreal.

The panelists gave critical advice to would-be Music City advocates, and industry cooperation and collaboration emerged as a key theme. Tory said that advocates must focus on the issue, and speak with one voice if they want to be heard. This sentiment was echoed by Gauthier and del Corno.

Karl Dean, former mayor of Nashville, remarked upon his work establishing affordable housing specifically for artists. Music Cities, according to Dean, are strong and thrive because of the creative people that they attract. He pointed to music education and raising creative audiences and creative people as key principles.

Music Ecosystem

Following a presentation on the need for restoration and protection of Detroit’s music venues, moderator Vel Omazic, Executive Director of Canada’s Music Incubator, led the Music Ecosystem Panel. The panel discussed how cities should go about identifying and solving gaps in their Music City ecosystems.

Omazic was joined by Andreas Kalogiannides, a business entertainment lawyer and co-chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC); Christina Fitzgerald, CIND-FM (Indie 88); Didier Zerath, Artist Mgmt & Music Industry Consultant; Dino Lupelli, CEO of Linecheck Music Meeting & Festival; and Jesse Elliot, Director of The Music District.

One of the key themes that emerged from this panel was the importance of the grassroots music community driving change. According to Elliot, community engagement for The Music District—a Fort Collins music hub for musicians and music related businesses—lasted over one and a half years and was a key reason for the success of the program.

Andreas spoke to the results of the widely responded to survey that TMAC used to identify issues when formulating the Toronto Music Strategy. The survey, which was answered by over 6,000 individuals, emphasized the city’s need for livability and affordability for its creative class and a need for accessible rehearsal and performance spaces.

The Music Ecosystem Panel was followed by a series of presentations on the value of the UNESCO Cities of Music. The presentations were delivered by representatives of member cities, Kingston, Jamaica, Bogota, Columbia, and Katowice, Poland.

Music Tourism

The Mastering of a Music City report touted music tourism as a key part of the equation for cities looking to generate economic benefits from live music. Erin Benjamin, Executive Director of Music Canada Live, led the Music Tourism Panel along with:

  • Andras Berta, International Relations Director, Sziget Festival, Hungary
  • Del Rollo, Senior Director, Gov’t Relations & Estates, Constellation Brands Canada, Canada
  • Jason Beukema, Owner, Whet Travel, USA
  • Michael Crockatt, President & CEO, Ottawa Tourism, Canada

The panel talked about how music can be a powerful motivator for travel, especially when associated with powerful and memorable experiences. Rollo spoke to the opportunities that music provides. Artists and musicians are able to create experiences for their fans that no other sector can provide, and it can be a significant draw for visitors. Furthermore, music tourists spend significantly more on travel and associated expenses than other types of tourists, according to Beukema’s experience.

A presentation from Molly Neuman, Head of Music at Kickstarter, followed the panel. Neuman spoke to the crowd-funding company’s desire to support the creative independence of artists and music communities.

Working with the Development Community

The conference closed with a panel moderated by Toronto City Councillor Josh Colle which asked panelists to investigate the competition for space between developers and music venues—an issue that developing cities around the world, including Toronto, are dealing with. The panel included members of the music industry, city officials, and a representative of a US development company.

Shain Shapiro, Managing Director of Sound Diplomacy, and Jocelyn Kane, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission, told the conference about their cities’ experiences with the ‘Agent of Change’ policy. In San Francisco, this means that new developments must do acoustic tests and implement sound mitigation if they are built within 300 ft. of a music venue. The Entertainment Commission also ensures that new tenants cannot sue nearby venues for noise issues.

Shapiro put forward that many developers want to support music and that the industry and government’s role is to facilitate that. As new developments in London are mandated to have cultural space components, Shapiro’s organization has created guides for developers on how to make those components music-related.

Watch the live recording of the How to Work with the Development Community panel (part 1 and part 2).


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