What does it take to be a Music City?

With legendary and locally beloved venues closing at a dispiriting pace just as more bands are popping up, Toronto has some work to do to live up to its lofty “Music City” aspirations.

Luckily, for at least the second time in as many years, experts from cities across North America will be meeting during Canadian Music Week to find new ways for Toronto to show its commitment.

On Saturday, May 12, Music Canada, CMW and the Music Cities Think Tank will host a Music Cities Summit on what a “music city” looks like, the infrastructure needed to make one successful and how music industry leaders in cities like Austin have worked with municipalities to create a friendly, healthy environment for bands, fans and everyone in between.

Nine sessions are scheduled for that day with topics including “America’s Musical Journey” and “Music Officers Meet Their Match” to “Community Sound Management” and “Making Space in the Public Realm: How Public Spaces Can Contribute to Scenes and Strategies.”

Among this year’s speakers are Elizabeth Cawein, founder of Music Export Memphis, Toronto City Councillor Josh Cole; Chief Howard Miller, president of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council, and Kate Becker, director of the Office of Film and Music in Seattle.

“The ‘Music City’ is a true 21st Century paradigm — a shared realization that cities across the globe enjoy an often huge economic dividend from the creation, performance and reception of music,” according to a preview of the day-long conference. “Whether it’s Austin, Texas, where music tourism represents half the city’s economic output from music, or Melbourne, Australia, where live music accounts for 116,000 jobs, or Toronto, where the Canadian recording industry has a $400 million impact, that song you hear is sung by robust civic economies worldwide.”

Toronto and Austin have been working together for many years, sharing best practices, successes and challenges, resulting first in a 2012 report detailing their efforts and in hosting this summer during last year’s CMW.

“Ultimately the goal is to create a more sustainable music community where artists and professionals can enjoy successful careers,” says Graham Henderson of Music Canada. “We want to see a world without musical borders.”

Adds CMW President Neill Dixon, “We’re excited to continue the Music Cities debate at Canadian Music Week. The Mastering of a Music City initiative is one of the most exciting we’ve ever been involved in, with a tremendous potential economic upside.

Tickets are still available for the seminar and can be purchased here.

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