In 2018, the City of Huntsville entered into an agreement with Sound Diplomacy, an internationally recognized consulting group, to conduct an extensive music audit to assess the strengths and opportunities of Huntsville’s music economy. In August 2019, the results of the audit, which include specific recommendations for the City to enhance this aspect of its economy, were presented to the Huntsville City Council.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did the City of Huntsville invest in a music audit? What is it and what are its intended outcomes?
The City of Huntsville is focused on two complementary goals: Supporting a diverse economy and developing an attractive quality of life. The opportunity to support and develop Huntsville’s music scene can address both of these goals. In economic terms, a robust music industry can create jobs as well as attract workers to jobs in other industries. When considering quality of life, a thriving and diverse music scene enhances the entertainment options for those who call Huntsville home.
A music audit is an in-depth examination of a community’s music industry – the artists’ environment, the venues, the educational infrastructure and the underlying music culture. A successful music audit articulates a thorough understanding of a community’s music ecosystem and creates strategies to grow that ecosystem. The goal is to outline the steps that should be taken to realize that growth whether it is through City initiatives, supporting private music industry efforts or both.
How much did it cost?
$150,000 base fee over the course of a year. The Sound Diplomacy leadership and staff made multiple trips to Huntsville as part of the study, conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative research and analysis of our specific industry opportunities and needs and prepared multiple reports to help shape Huntsville’s strategy. The music audit is a multi-phase process that includes: (1) gathering data/inventory of existing various music-based factors of a community (i.e. music education, music-based jobs, venues, current economic impact, etc.), (2) determining the current relevance of music in the community and the community’s potential to expand a music-based economy, and (3) developing a business strategy to grow music and the arts in the community.
What are the top three music audit recommendations the City plans to prioritize?
It is difficult to limit it to three. One of the main opportunities identified from the audit’s surveys and analysis was communication: within the industry and between the industry and external organizations like the City. Considerating that, the following recommendations should be among the first to be implemented:
- Holding at least two music industry forums annually to foster collaboration within the existing music industry of Huntsville and to provide growth in this economic sector
- Creating and maintaining a music-specific events calendar
- Establishing a “Music Advisory Board” of industry professionals to liaise with the City and to ensure the implementation of the Audit’s recommendations
Likewise, the audit recommends the City of Huntsville pursue events-based initiatives such as expanding programming in our public spaces, planning for an amphitheater and restarting an old event (like Big Spring Jam) or creating a music week (perhaps around #256day).
What is the role of the proposed Music Advisory Board?
The Music Advisory Board will work with the City to oversee the implementation of the Audit’s recommendations. Anyone with experience in any part of the music industry can apply by e-mailing Dennis Madsen, City of Huntsville Manager of Urban and Long Range Planning, at Music@HuntsvilleAL.gov. Board Members will have experience in music, be it teaching, performing, producing, promoting, managing, etc. In the early phases, the City is committing matching staff time to assist with the establishment and function of the Board. The City is also making an active investment in venues and encouraging investments in new private venues that will support the mission (Music Hall, Amphitheatre, etc.).
ADDITIONAL MUSIC AUDIT RESOURCES
Sound Diplomacy begins nation’s largest music-ecosystem survey in Tennessee Valley
Next steps: Where Huntsville’s music audit goes from here
The business of making Huntsville a music city