Indy Music Strategy helps city identify strengths, weaknesses to help local industry grow

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The local music scene might not be the first thing that pops into Hoosiers’ heads when they are describing Indianapolis, but those immersed in the industry are working to bring it to the forefront.

There is a music strategy underway which will ultimately give city leaders, musicians and stakeholders an idea of the music assets around Indy.

Sound Diplomacy, an international agency, is working with partners in Indy such as the chamber of commerce, the city and local venues to develop a long term strategy as it relates to the music scene.

“It’s one of the most cost effective ways of helping cities develop in many different ways, socially, culturally and economically,” Azucena Mico, the Senior Project Manager with Sound Diplomacy said. “At the end, we end up with a database of all the music assets that are in the city, and this helps connect the dots, and it helps connect the people.”

Josh Baker, the founder of the Fountain Square venue HiFi and event manager with MOKB Presents, underscored the talent that already exists in Indy. He said what is needed is a plan for the industry’s growth.

“We’re all kind of operating in our own pockets and kind of flailing a little bit,” Baker admitted. “So, we’re just trying to connect the dots so that we can all work together a little more.”

The Music City Strategy is a three year endeavor. They are looking at ways the current policies are hindering growth for musicians and venues. Craig Helmreich, the founder of 4th Sunday Music Company, helps launch local talent through this non-profit.

“Lift all boats with a rising tide which is exactly what this [music strategy] is trying to do,” Helmreich said. “Try to find the things that are impediments to the process, like liquor laws as a good example. Most of our venues are 21-plus. If we could change the liquor laws just a little bit so that some of the venues could be 18-plus, under certain circumstances, then seniors in high school can come see music that basically right now, you have to be a senior in college to come see. That changes the dynamic of the amount of money that’s available to support the arts.”

Baker said the experts are closely examining the potential for more music opportunity in communities throughout the city.

“When they analyze this information, they’ll say, ‘Here is an area of the city that might be a music desert. There’s no venue, but there’s all of these artists that live here,'” Baker explained.

The music strategy is in phase II. Sound Diplomacy is creating a map, which will hopefully identify things like live music spaces, recorded music spaces, music education facilities, independent and local industry professionals and companies, including labels, promoters, agents, etc.

The experts are in town all week for roundtables and interviews. Those interviews are with artists, city leaders and those involved in the music industry. After this visit, Sound Diplomacy is releasing a survey for everyone to participate in.

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