How To Make Toronto The Music Capital Of The World

Before there was the Toronto Music Advisory Council, before 44° 79°, or even before the Toronto-Austin Music Alliance, there was a NXNE panel in 2012 that kick-started it all. On a sunny June afternoon in 2012, a handful of listeners joined some industry experts to learn how to improve Toronto’s music scene during Canada’s North By Northeast festival.

I sat in on the panel and covered it on behalf of Urbanology Magazine and here’s what I wrote back then:

As part of NXNE Interactive, artists, industry professionals and music supporters attended the “Making The Most Of Our Music City” workshop at the Hyatt Regency, where Music Canada released its one of a kind study indicating where Toronto stands as a musical city and how the city has the ability to be the live music capital of the world with just a few adjustments.

The panel, which consisted of Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada, Author Nikki Rowling, Councillor of Ward 15, Josh Colle and Jeff Cohen, successful concert promoter and owner of the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace, gave an overview of the ground breaking report and indicated three important changes that Toronto must make in order to capitalize on its musical potential.

According to Henderson, Toronto is one of the most influential music cities in the world and serves as our country’s music headquarters, as 80 per cent of the economic activity that music generates in Canada comes from the GTA through major and independent labels, recording studios, venues and live shows.

In the study, Music Canada compared the strategies set into place by Austin, Texas, which is currently known as the “live music capital of the world” and through this study Rowling explained that by “committing”, “measuring” and “broadcasting”, Toronto can musically surpass the southern US city.

“Toronto’s critical assets are a lot stronger than Austin’s. If you look at the building blocks for what can be done here, the city is much larger. You guys are star makers and have been for decades. I think that is something that is a really unique asset for Toronto,” she says.

“With just a few minor adjustments and focus, I believe that the industry growth capacity here could really mushroom pretty much everything out there, absolutely including Austin, with a little bit of time and commitment to doing that.”

Slide after slide, comparing our city to that of Austin, Rowling concluded that as a city, Toronto must adapt a musical identity, financially support the growth of the Canadian music industry and broadcast its successes. These may seem like easy steps, but it takes the support of everyone involved in the industry to make to change, and take over the world through the talent growing in Toronto.

Following the panel, the four industry professionals left time for a discussion with the audience, answering questions such as, “What can local Torontonians do to make a change?”, in which the panelists responded by explaining that Torontonians must continue to get involved in the growing culture, spread the word of the city’s success and contact City Council to support more music funding.

Fast-forward to NXNE 2013, where strides had been made to secure this Toronto initiative as a priority. At another panel, this time in a room much more full with supporters, 4479 was launched as a marketing campaign to create energy and action around the concept of Toronto as a music city. I was also there to cover:

Last year at NXNE 2012, an interactive panel titled, “Making The Most Of Your Music City” took place at the Hyatt Regency, where a study was presented comparing Toronto’s music industry to that of the “Live Music Capital Of The World”, Houston, Texas in the hopes of modeling the industry after the Southern city.

A dream became a reality this year as moderator Graham Henderson, president of Music Canada announced at the NXNE panel that the local music community, Toronto tourism industry and Toronto City Hall will unite as they launch a new effort titled, 44° 79°, dedicated to branding Toronto as the new music capital of the world. The campaign plans to create a ‘musical task force’ in City Hall, create new opportunities for artists, promoters, studies and venues and create a united musical community.

Panelists and supporters who came to the Toronto’s Music City Campaign 2.0 Thursday were able to take part in the launch that will, in the next few years, add to the growth of Toronto’s music scene and re-define the city as the place to be for music.

This year, at Canadian Music Week, the Toronto-Austin Music Alliance and the Toronto Music Advisory Council were both unveiled, pushing the initiative into high gear. Currently, all three separate creativities have been working steadily to make ground-breaking changes in Toronto to secure the city as the music capital of the world.

Listen to the panel that started it all.

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