Want to find out exactly what $165,000 in music consulting gets you?
Huntsville officials will present recommendations from London firm Sound Diplomacy’s 14-month music audit of the city, to Huntsville City Council during council’s regularly scheduled 6 p.m. Aug. 22 meeting, at 308 Fountain Circle.
A public presentation and Q&A session will be held the next day, 12 – 1 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Von Braun Center Concert Hall, address 700 Monroe St. Free parking is available for the music audit public presentation at Garage M, directly across Monroe Street from the concert hall.
Speakers at the public presentation will include Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, director of urban and economic development Shane Davis, manager of urban and long -range planning Dennis Madsen and Sound Diplomacy founder/president Shain Shapiro.
“To attract and retain the best and brightest workforce, Huntsville needs a dynamic music and cultural scene,” Davis said in a release. “This is more than an amenity – it’s part of our big picture planning, economic and workforce development.”
Following the public presentation, Sound Diplomacy will host a “music strategy launch celebration” 2 – 6 p.m. at outdoor mini-venue The Camp, address 5909 University Drive.
The City of Huntsville commissioned the music audit in April 2018, contracting Sound Diplomacy for $165,000. For a little context, Huntsville corridor studies have cost between $75,000 to $150,000, according to city officials. The Western Growth Plan, involving Polaris, Toyota/Mazda and GE Aviation development projects, cost $650,000.
In addition to data on existing musical resources – talent, venues, industry support infrastructure, etc. – the final report is expected to provide a plan for maximizing existing resources and building up different musical genres as well addressing music-friendly municipal codes, ordinances and zoning and potential for regional music collaborations.
Last summer, Sound Diplomacy reps held an initial public forum, which drew a passionate crowd of 150 or more. Eleven invitation-based round-table discussions held around that time sought further input, from individuals representing local music education, music industry, venues, production and promotion, media and artists. Around 110 or so participated in these round-table discussions.
An online survey City of Huntsville and Sound Diplomacy conducted through Sept. 10 received more than 1,000 responses according to a city press release. Subjects addressed in the survey included: local talent quality; audience diversity; venue variety; Huntsville’s reputation as a music city; how often fans attend live music events here and how much money those fans spend on live music.
Some initial survey findings were revealed in October. At that time, Shapiro indicated he saw opportunities to develop music technology in Huntsville, a city that prides itself in innovation. At that same October forum, Shapiro promised the final Huntsville music-audit findings would be delivered by the end of February.
The audit’s taken place amid a flurry of music related developments in Huntsville. City council has approved funding for plans for an amphitheater at the University Drive development MidCity. The Von Braun Center’s building a new 1,200-capacity venue, aimed at booking rising acts. A new, large-club sized venue called The Mercantile had been set to up this summer the former Crossroads Music Hall/U.G. White retailer space downtown on Clinton Avenue, however that project has been delayed, possibly permanently.
Huntsville is home to plenty of musical talent, enjoyable live venues and clubs and behind-the-scenes industry successes. But the city has never really produced an undeniably famous band, venue or recording studio.
Sound Diplomacy’s other current clients include, according to the firm’s website, Berlin, London, Vancouver and San Francisco. The firm has also been working with music-legacy-rich Muscle Shoals of late.