Music Cities Forum, Indianapolis: May 8, 2018


This May, we held our second edition of Music Cities Forum and first to be held in the US. Indianapolis, Indiana was the host and the event included panel discussions, presentations and collaborative round tables, with attendees and guest speakers exploring the theme: 'Outlining A Music Strategy for Indianapolis and understanding its impact on Indianapolis' growth, competitiveness and creative development.'

Speakers were invited from Denver, Austin, Memphis, Atlanta and London UK to provide key insights for Indianapolis on how a music strategy for Indianapolis could be developed.

 Lauren M Pacheco and Jennie Devoe discussing the needs and challenges of the artist community. 

Lauren M Pacheco and Jennie Devoe discussing the needs and challenges of the artist community. 

Hosted at intimate local live music venue The HI-FI and the historic Fountain Square Theatre, the day involved a range of presentations and panel discussions with music industry experts, artists and civic members.

 Elizabeth Cawein, Sean M Starowitz, Chris Ghal and Linda Broardfoot discussing the role that music plays on tourism and economic development. 

Elizabeth Cawein, Sean M Starowitz, Chris Ghal and Linda Broardfoot discussing the role that music plays on tourism and economic development. 

All proceeds from the event were donated to Musical Family Tree a not for profit organisation with the mission of sharing and supporting Indianapolis’s music.

The forum, centred around harnessing the value that music can bring to Indianapolis, explored the needs and challenges of the local artist community, the restrictions and needs of the business economy, how to navigate local policy, as well as the effects that music can have on tourism and economic development of a city.

“Music impacts a city, and specifically bridges art and entrepreneurship, like few things in life,” said Indy Chamber President and CEO Michael Huber. “As Indianapolis continues to build momentum in a 21st Century economy, it needs a talented, creative workforce to support future growth. Music and the creative class help us build a more diverse and inclusive community that challenges convention and encourages innovation. Indy’s rich musical roots, from jazz legend Freddie Hubbard to Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, are a reminder of how Indy’s talented individuals can reach audiences across the world by simply sharing their passion.”  


Alex Mann from the Music Venue Trust, (UK) presented on the subject of why grassroots venues are integral to the development of cities and culture and the difficulties and hurdles that they face at the MVT in the UK.

 Alex Man talking about the importance of supporting grassroots venues. 

Alex Man talking about the importance of supporting grassroots venues. 

The day closed with an informative roundtable discussion where all attendees and speakers were divided into groups to look at the ways in which they would create a framework for the city.  


The event finished off with networking and drinks, as well as free access to all the pinball machines in HI-FI. There was food from Thunderbird, followed by a concert featuring local bands The Wldlfe and Dream Chief.

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Check out the Indianapolis playlist here to hear more from the city: 

Music Cities Forum: Indianapolis was made possible with generous support from community sponsors and event partners including: Central Indiana Community Foundation, Indy Chamber, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Live Nation, HI-FI, Deylen Realty, Joyful Noise Recordings, Eskenazi Health, Visit Indy, Flaherty and Collins, Meitus Gelbert Rose, Tinker Coffee Co., MOKB Presents, Bohlsen Group, Fourth Sunday Music Co., Do317 Media.









Five Years of Sound Diplomacy - SXSW 2018

March is always one of the most exciting months for the Sound Diplomacy Berlin team as we are busy preparing to leave behind the German winter for sunny Austin, Texas. 2018 marked the fourth year in which we co-produced German Haus - Germany’s official representation at SXSW, together with Initiative Musik and IHM - Hamburg’s Music Business Association.

GERMAN HAUS (c) Dan Taylor for GERMAN HAUS Initiative Musik.jpg

For the second year in a row we were based in our home-away-from-home - Austin’s friendliest music club Barracuda. From March 10th-15th, German Haus and the German Pavilion at Austin’s Convention Center welcomed over 10,000 visitors, 1,300 German conference delegates and 22 bands and artists, making 2018 the most successful German presence ever.

German Haus at SXSW - 14 March 18 - Image copyright Dan Taylor -

True to the festival’s innovative and cross-disciplinary spirit, German Haus hosted a variety of showcases, panels, networking activities, workshops, concerts and parties over five days. Our highlights included the Wunderbar Wednesday with Krautrock focus that saw a panel on the latest documentary about legendary producer Conny Plank, as well as an acoustic performance by legendary Midge Ure of Ultravox fame; and a full day of discussion around Blockchain and its impact on the music industry.

German Haus 18 (c) Dan Taylor for GERMAN HAUS Initiative Musik.jpg

In addition to German Haus, Sound Diplomacy co-hosted a Music Urbanism panel at the SXSW inaugural Cities Summit, where together with three US experts we discussed music’s role in how cities are designed, planned and built.

GERMAN HAUS LEYYA  (c) Dan Taylor for GERMAN HAUS Initiative Musik.jpg

We also organised the Berlin Beats showcase with the support of Musicboard Berlin, showcasing a wealth of musical talent from Berlin with sets by Berlin Community Radio, Roi Perez and Monoloc.

All photos by Dan Taylor for GERMAN HAUS Initiative Musik.

Five Years of Sound Diplomacy - Music Strategy for Cuba

In September 2016, we were chosen by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to develop a music strategy for the most musical island in the world: Cuba. The project has been going on since then, and it has been one of the most amazing and challenging projects. I have met incredible professionals and the most talented musicians. The project is funded by the Korean Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and is supported by the Cuban Ministry of Culture.


The project consists of a series of workshops, roundtables and conferences that have taken Sound Diplomacy to Cuba on seven occasions, and there are still two more to come! Five members of our team and two external experts on sound engineering and IP law have travelled over to Cuba, and we have visited three different cities so far, with two more to come. We have all learnt a lot from the Cuban music industry, and have thoroughly enjoyed each trip.


Alongside this, the project has taken me to Mu:Con, in Seoul, to join a Cuban trade mission to the Korean capital. And we have also been with some of our Cuban friends in Barcelona and at Music Cities Convention Berlin.


During the project we have spoken with many representatives from the main music organisations on the island, learning about the challenges and assets of the music sector and discussing the opportunities and how they see the future of music in Cuba. From these conversations, we have developed a series of recommendations, some of which are being implemented at the moment. These recommendations cover everything from music education and skills to internationalisation or digitalisation. We also designed the first steps for a music city strategy in Santiago de Cuba, a music paradise on the Oriental side of the island.

You can find more information on the project here.


We believe that no matter where you live, what you like or who you are, everyone has a right to perform, experience and pursue a career in music.

Music is infrastructure.

Access to music and culture is a human right.


When we started in 2013, we focused on music export — linking artists, businesses and experiences across countries, from Colombia to Australia. 

Since then we’ve changed a little, but our mission is the same.  

Music matters — and its value is increasing everyday. Since we started Sound Diplomacy, we have been lucky to work in over 50 countries, set up global leading conferences and deliver strategies that prove the economic, cultural and social value of music around the world. And now we’re proud to be the leaders of the music cities movement; and this movement is just beginning.

Thank you to all our clients, partners, friends and conference attendees.

We’ve been inspired by our clients and friends in countries and cities around the world, from Uganda to Peru, Seoul to Vancouver and everywhere in between.

We’ve met amazing agents of change, from musicians to diplomats, Mayors to venue owners.

So thank you for continuing to inspire us, and watch this space.

The best is yet to come.

The Sound Diplomacy Team

 Design & illustration:

Design & illustration:


On April 19-20 2018, global leaders across music, city planning, cultural and community industries and education will come together in Melbourne for the sixth and first southern hemisphere edition of Music Cities Convention.

Music Cities Convention Melbourne is organised alongside the Victorian Government and Music Victoria and the event’s official travel partner is The Appointment Group. The event will be an ideas hub of best practices on the use of music – and all its variants – to improve city life, and the convention will explore the role and impact of music across education, employment, community building, placemaking, licensing and regulation.


Through collaborative panels, keynotes and networking sessions, Music Cities Convention presents the future of music in our cities across the world, focusing on improving urban planning, quality of life, city policy and development strategies through music.

Home to more live music venues per capita, Melbourne will become a knowledge-sharing hub featuring 40 speakers with 300 attendees from Australia and beyond expected to attend the two full days of ideas and discussions.

Convention theme, ‘It takes a village to make a music city: Music Policy from top to bottom’, will include presentations and panels on:

  • Music Policy in Asia
  • My Music Cities – focus on Zimbabwe, North America, South America and Australasia
  • How We Make Noisy Cities Work for Everyone – Australia
  • Chengdu: China’s Music City
  • The Visitor Economy: Music, Tourism and its Impact on Local Musicians and Living Culture
  • SLAM (Save Live Australian Music): The History
  • The New Night Mayors: Lessons from Orlando
  • Let’s Leave Music Cities: The Role of Landowners
  • What Music Can Learn from Sport in the Cities

There will be over forty speakers from all over the world attending, including the USA, Zimbabwe, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Armenia and the Netherlands.


We’re incredibly excited for this 6th edition of Music Cities Convention and hope to see some of you there!



Vancouver is a stunning city.

They call it the ‘city of glass’ and it really is, with imposing steel-and-glass buildings that create impossible reflections; when you match this with Vancouver’s other name - the ‘rainy city’, you begin to truly appreciate the beauty of the landscape.  Katja and I travelled there last November to meet some of the city’s music stakeholders and in January, I went back to learn more about the city’s music ecosystem.

In just under a week, I met around 120 people from Vancouver’s music and property industries and was lucky enough to visit some of the main music spaces in the city, like the 604 Records Headquarters and several venues at the historic and charming Gastown neighbourhood


Back in November, the 2018 JUNO Award press presentation was hosted at CBC Studios and they announced that this year’s awards would take place in Vancouver, hosted by Michael Bublé and performances by BC-based musicians like the BC Youth Chinese Orchestra.

  Michael Bublé  at the 2018 Juno Awards Nominations - Photo courtesy of  Kingston's K-Rock 105.7

Michael Bublé at the 2018 Juno Awards Nominations - Photo courtesy of Kingston's K-Rock 105.7

We also announced the forthcoming Music Cities Convention which will take place on Thursday 22nd March as part of JUNO Week.  I also attended Vancouver’s Creative City Strategy at Roundhouse, a very beautiful Community Centre that hosts music, conferences and theatre.

Both trips helped us understand the city, its people and their social habits; their wants and needs.  It also brought us closer to key music industry bodies and gave us ample opportunity to take in the city’s night time vibe, which is so important to our work on the city’s music strategy.


While the city venues are undergoing a crisis, some of the best venues in town still operate, hosting great shows every night.  The city also has a very interesting underground scene and in summer holds great outdoor events, making the most of the beautiful parks and nature spaces the city has. In Vancouver, creativity is merged into the astonishing natural landscapes, and they are both inserted in the population’s DNA.  The whole music scene is highly committed and willing to work together to transform Vancouver into a Music City.

Every meeting we’ve taken, every interview or roundtable we’ve hosted or attended, every venue we’ve been to and every phone-call has lead to the start of conversations among different agents in the city that are all working towards the same objective - to put Vancouver on the map as a Music City.


The key findings of this project will be presented during Music Cities Forum in March, and the report will conclude in a strategy for the city and the music scene.