Sound Diplomacy Launches #BetterMusicCities Campaign

London, 14 May 2020

Partners include the Recording Academy™, Association for Independent Music (AIM), Night Time Industries Association, Core Cities, Music Venue Trust, New Music USA,, Gener8tor, Association for Electronic Music and many others.

Campaign calls on cities, governments, organisations and the music industry to ensure music policy is embedded in recovery and resilience plans in cities and towns around the world.


Global music policy leaders Sound Diplomacy launch the #BetterMusicCities campaign - a call to action to ensure music is at the heart of recovery in cities around the world. The campaign is accompanied by a comprehensive guide and 9 point plan for recovery - the Music Cities Resilience Handbook.

Shain Shapiro, Founder & CEO of Sound Diplomacy outlines the importance of this handbook: “There are few music offices in cities around the world. Music education is in decline. Many relief programs 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. 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 Music Cities Resilience Handbook offers 9 strategies any city, state or region can take to increase the value of music in their communities. Reforms include recognising music and culture in infrastructure plans, aligning relief to creation, establishing city music registries to support local songwriters and refining and diversifying music education programs.

The #BetterMusicCities Plan Is:

  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 & Fair Play Schemes

These examples 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. Doing so will create #BetterMusicCities.

The call to action includes a downloadable letter, which can be edited and shared with any Mayor or City Councilperson outlining the value of music, how to engage with it and the outcomes it can deliver.

The handbook includes a foreword from Association of Independent Music (AIM) CEO, Paul Pacifico. He states: “This timely report by Sound Diplomacy highlights the case for culture as a tangible and quantifiable force for good and I sincerely hope that policy makers take note.”

A host of global music and culture organisations have joined the campaign, committing themselves to help all of us build #BetterMusicCities. They include the Recording Academy™, Soundcorps, New Music USA, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Wickham James Strategies, Majestic Collaborations, Night Time Industries Association, Music Venue Trust, Punch Records, Association of Electronic Music, Dakia Global, UVentures, In Place of War, Georgia Music Partners and many others.

The handbook is also a precursor to the launch of the new Music Cities Community, a new online resource to support and bring together music policy professionals from around the world.

Join the campaign and read the handbook at

About the Music Cities Community:

The Music Cities Community is a platform for all the professionals in the world focused on how they can use music to improve their town or city. The community enables its members to find and network with other professionals, to learn, share and discuss best practices, and to live and relive our events. It will be launched on Monday, May 18th.

About Sound Diplomacy:

Sound Diplomacy are the global experts in delivering economic, cultural and social growth to cities and regions, and the tourism and real estate sectors using strategies focused on music and the night time economy. They have worked on 100+ projects in 55+ cities and 30+ countries.

Praise For Music Cities Resilience Handbook:

“Any mayor or local elected officials interested in restoring the full and complete economic activity of their cities or counties should consider this report regarding the true value of the creative sector a must read.” - Mayor Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri 2010-2018

“It's great to see all the relief programs being instituted around the world to support artists, but eventually these will disappear and we need a plan. This handbook is an impassioned, extensive and structured step in the right direction that I believe any city, no matter its size, can use to improve their music economies. Protecting grassroots music venues and nurturing local talent is critical to the future of music - by doing what we can to shelter them from this storm we will all benefit for many years to come. I’m thrilled” - Ben Lovett, CEO, The Venue Group / Musician, Mumford & Sons

"Someone said about twenty years ago that with the celestial jukebox coming, there had to be a way for everybody to have access to music but for creators to be fairly compensated. So it does seem an opportune time to explore different ways of valuing and compensating musicians for their work and creativity. I am encouraged by the work of Sound Diplomacy and others, working to reimagine the various moving parts and equations that make up the business side of the music business.” - Bertis Downs, R.E.M’s Manager

‘The roots of American music run deep in North Carolina, and we know that music can be an incredible tool for recovery and cultural resiliency. The State of North Carolina is exploring many ways to support our artists and harness the power of the arts to aid our residents in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our strategies include growing our Come Hear NC initiative, leveraging public and private partnerships, and enhancing outreach efforts with arts nonprofits across the state. This report is a great catalyst to inspire and inform our thinking as we innovate for a strong future in our state.’ - Susi H. Hamilton,
Secretary, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

“As COVID-19 has a devastating impact on the music industry we must not lose sight of the great progress cities across the UK have made in reaping the social, economic and cultural benefits of music. Music is resilient, provides great comfort in troubled times and will be vital to the recovery of our cities. The Music Cities Resilience Handbook provides an ideal starting point for how this can be achieved.” -
Tom Kiehl, Acting CEO, UK Music

“At New Music USA, we want to see a thriving and equitable ecosystem for new music in all its forms. We contribute to this vision by funding, connecting and empowering artists, and the organizations that support them, throughout the United States. As Covid-19 exposes how vulnerable the music industry can be, the Music Cities Resilience Handbook is a must-read for all cities wishing to understand why music should be included in their recovery plans, and how this could be tackled via nine concrete steps towards a more resilient future." - Vanessa Reed, CEO, New Music USA

“Music and culture are central to how we live our lives, as well as to the economy, yet these sectors have been hit hard by the impact of C19. This decisive intervention from Sound Diplomacy doesn’t just offer a message of much needed hope at a difficult time, it also sets out practical steps to support both the cultural sector and cities, recognising the intimate links between the success of both” - Chris Murray, Chief Executive, UK Core Cities Group

"Sound Diplomacy’s new handbook provides a great framework for the music economy’s inclusion in recovery plans and offers creative revenue strategies for community investment and business
engagement. In New Orleans, my home city, music is a mandatory presence that will help to lead the return of our economy.”
- Tara Hernandez, Chair, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation

"It's so important to think about music policy as part of good governance, because if we're to create jobs for artists and create music sectors in every country, we need IP protection and policies enacted that treat music seriously. This handbook is an incredible resource I'll be using to lobby governments around the world to take action." - Ruth Daniel, Founder, In Place of War

“This report provides a holistic view of potential strategies, and global examples, for building music ecosystem resilience and creating better, more equitable music cities in recovery. Essential reading to influence, inspire and create debate and action.” - Greg Lawrence, General Manager, Association for Electronic Music

“Cities need music for their economy and their citizens' wellbeing. Labels like IMPALA members see the importance of this first hand. As key investors and risk takers in the music economy, the independent sector welcomes the recommendation that each city has a music resilience policy in place. This very much ties in with IMPALA's own work, which is also centred around long term planning and support for those who underpin creative innovation and risk-taking, as well as stability” - Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA

“Over the last six years, SoundCorps has been hard at work in Chattanooga, Tennessee to implement many of the initiatives and policies championed by Sound Diplomacy through reports like The Music Cities Resilience Handbook. Our music economy has blossomed as we have leaned on thought leadership that helps us best advocate for Chattanooga musicians on a local, regional, and state level.”
- Stratton Tingle, CEO, Soundcorps, Chattanooga, TN

“The Music Cities Resilience Handbook is an important piece of work that creates a roadmap for a better future for artists, crew, technicians and the venues they work in. It provides a framework upon which any layer of government can test its approach to music and identify the value of music, and how to enhance and protect that value. Grassroots music venues sit at the heart of that framework, and Music Venue Trust is pleased to see that role recognised is this new way of thinking about our towns and cities.” - Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust

“Dakia is deeply involved and committed towards the creation of music cities and districts worldwide. These music-centered communities will create true abundance, by driving significant social coherence through music, art, culture, education, and their supportive supply chains. At a time when the world is seeking harmony, the galvanizing impact of the power of music will both incubate and accelerate individual creativity and communities as a whole. We are proud to work alongside Sound Diplomacy to serve the future, by investing in cities and districts creating synergies through the universal language that unite us all, music.” - Robert Lavia, Dakia Founder & Chairman

"With gener8tor's Backline Musician Accelerator we have seen first hand the need and potential for communities to take the lead in supporting their musicians through mentorship, mental health, network and financial support. Music has the power to unite, create wealth and inspire. This timely report is a terrific guide for all cities to recognize the value of their music and cultural ecosystems. It gives me hope." - Joe Kirgues, Co-founder, Gener8tor

"Right now, we the people need a strong spirit, close social bonds, creative thinking and collaboration. Music can weave a thread through all of that    motivating and sustaining us like nothing else can do, as
we set about the task of re-invigorating our cities and our economies. Music makers, music professionals and music entrepreneurs have a huge part to play, not just in helping our own industry but in nourishing the wider socio economic-environment too. Sound Diplomacy, once again, strikes precisely the right note with this report. Please pay attention!"
Sarah Williams, CEO, International Independent Music Publishers Association (IMPEL)

“It’s time to think about music, culture and diversity of creative commerce in a different way - Whilst the music industry begins to establish a route back to a new business model, this report pulls together a pragmatic nine point plan around resilience for global policy makers, cities and cultural drivers of urban economy. A fascinating read.” - Ammo Talwar MBE, CEO Punch Records

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