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Press Release, February 2019

Sound Diplomacy, the leading strategic consultancy using music to drive economic growth in cities and places all over the world is welcoming its first external Chief Executive Officer, Julia Eberdal. Julia will join founders Shain Shapiro, PhD and Jordi Puy; as well as Alexandra Notay, the Build-to-Rent Fund Director for PfP Capital, the fund management business of Places for People; Nicole Yershon, CEO of Lab for Hire and bestselling author of Rough Diamond, Turning Disruption into Advantage; Robert C. Hain (CEO & Chairman, City Financial); Derek Linfield (Legal Consultant and Chairman of Cornish Lithium Limited and Mkango Resources Limited); and Scott Cohen (Co-Founder, The Orchard and Co-founder, Cyborg Nest) on the Sound Diplomacy Holdings Board.

Julia’s strong financial background and diverse skill set stemming from her previous roles covering business analysis, financial modelling, financial advisory and investments add a unique value proposal to Sound Diplomacy.

Complementing the Sound Diplomacy teams’ established and well known background in Music and Creative Services, Julia holds an MSc in Economics and Business majoring in Finance from Stockholm School of Economics, as well as an MA in International Management from London School of Economics, through the CEMS MIM Programme. A native Swedish speaker, she has worked for organisations of all sizes, from BlackRock and Handelsbanken Capital Markets to small specialised firms. She has managed projects in the UK, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa, having worked mainly within the infrastructure sector.

Shain Shapiro, PhD commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Julia to Sound Diplomacy. Her background in the City brings a wealth of experience to us, especially as we’re accelerating our global expansion and developing new technologies to recognise the value of music in cities. She is a star and makes Sound Diplomacy bigger, better and more agile. I can’t wait for what’s next.”

On her appointment, Julia commented, “I am very pleased to be joining Sound Diplomacy at such an exciting time of growth and expansion. We will be expanding into the US this year and I look forward to driving the development and execution of our corporate strategy going forward.”

Chairman Robert C. Hain added, “I’ve admired Julia’s work for some time. We know her knowledge and experience is an asset and a competitive advantage for us as we expand our portfolio of projects across cities, governments and corporations around the world.”

Sound Diplomacy has offices in London, Berlin and Barcelona, and is in the process of opening an office in the United States, later in 2019. Sound Diplomacy have expanded its global footprint developing music strategies around the world and advising the real estate sector and large, international organisations. Known for expanding the ‘music cities’ model, which sees music strategies incorporated into cities’ economic development, tourism and industrial expansion plans, Sound Diplomacy count amongst its clients Greater New Orleans Incorporated, Lendlease, Greater London Authority, United Nations Industry Development Organisation (UNIDO), UN Global Communications, City of San Francisco, Walton Family Foundation, Legal and General, Indianapolis Chamber, City of Huntsville Alabama, Manchester City Football Club, Madison Square Garden and the City of Brisbane. The firm also convenes the leading global suite of conferences on the role of music and public policy, including Music Cities Convention (in partnership with Martin Elbourne of The Great Escape, Glastonbury and NH7 Festivals), Music Tourism Convention and Sound Development. Over 200 city representatives have attended their events, from all continents bar Antarctica.

Sound Diplomacy is thrilled to continue to develop and champion a model that demonstrates the economic value of music in cities, towns and places around the world, with Julia at the helm. Former CEO Shain Shapiro will move on to serving the company as its Founder and President.

For more information, visit

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As January comes to a close we reflect on
kick-starting the year with a bang…

Highlights from last month:

  • Shain kicked off the year with a New Year’s message, including some of our big plans for the year to come (Medium) - read more here.

  • Our Music Cities Network headed to Eurosonic Festival to host a music showcase featuring emerging artists from Denmark, Germany and Netherlands - learn more about the Network here.

  • We’ve announced our next Sound Development event on the 5th February at Republic. The event will bring together music and real estate to explore how you can use music as a tool for high street regeneration. All ticket donations will go to to #IAMWHOLE’s #M4MH campaign - register for the final tickets here!

  • Earlier this year we got together with Group Partners’ John Caswell for an amazing visual thinking session. A big shout out to John for helping us understand not only where we're going, but also why it matters.

  • Last week saw the launch of a very exciting project in one of our favourite places. We’re working New Orleans on the New Orleans Music Economy initiative and economic impact study. We can’t wait to get involved in the thriving music scene there. Read more on the project here. #NOME @GNOinc

What we’ve been reading:

What we’ve been listening to:

And finally:

  • There’s a few new spaces cropping up in London, we visited Walthamstow’s new Creative Works last week, a great new workspace for creatives. We’re also very excited to hear more about the new Paul Institute and the Centre for Music, two new spaces for creative incubation and development.



October 10-12, 2018 • Lafayette, Louisiana

The 7th edition of Music Cities Convention was held in Lafayette, Louisiana, the “Happiest City in America.

48 speakers and 265 attendees gathered to talk about how music can help build vibrant, global and safer cities over two full days of presentations, talks, panels and live music.

This year’s theme was “Diversity and Improving Our Cities and Communities through Music”, a key topic not only for Lafayette’s rich cultural history around Cajun and Zydeco, but also for cities big and small all over the world.

On October 10 we headed to the Blue Moon Saloon for the event’s opening reception where we ate, danced and even played music at the weekly Cajun Jam event.


October 11th in a beautiful and sunny Lafayette, we travelled to the Acadiana Center for the Arts to kick off Day 1 with the panel “Diverse Communities: Music, Diversity, City Development”, during which representatives from New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Lafayette debated on the challenges and opportunities faced by US cities.


An inspiring keynote presentation by Al Bell delved deeper into the US music scene by telling the story of Stax Records and Motown Records before leaving the stage to Carmen Gloria Larenas and Frutillar’s campaign towards becoming a UNESCO City of Music.


We concluded the morning with discussions on the importance of having affordable housing and on the music city of Tamworth, Australia, after which a superb performance by “little Nate” welcomed us into lunch at the Rock'n'Bowl® de Lafayette, hosted by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.  


The afternoon saw presentations by Nolfris “Slim Kuttar” Williams and Ryan Cazares, a panel discussion on “The Need For Powerful Community Radio In Music Cities” and further presentations on music education programs, artists’ livelihood and the role of music tourism in Louisiana which was presented by the office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.


The day ended in typical Music Cities Convention style, with attendees heading to The Warehouse 535 to attend a special concert celebrating the life of Caeser Vincent.


Day 2 kicked off with Kath Davies introducing the audience to Kirkless, a small town with a thriving music community, followed by a presentation by Storm Gloor, the first professor to conduct a course on Music Cities, alongside three of his students.


We then heard from Sharon Yazowski on the Levitt Foundation and its contribution to community building, while Austin Barrows told us more about the amazing work the city of El Dorado has been undertaking.

The relationship between music and city planning was then analysed from an international point of view with talks from Clara Barbera, from the Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain, and from Abed Hathot, who shared the story and challenges of organising the Palestinian Music Expo.


Attendees had the chance to have lunch in the beautiful Parc Sans Souci before getting down to work on this edition’s roundtable, which focused on identifying the key steps that cities should take to become more supportive of artists.


Case studies from Louisiana, New York and Massachusetts led us towards the end of the talks, which was rounded off by a final panel on the role of governments in fostering diversity through music.

Attendees then headed to Girard Park to attend Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, the best way to conclude our Convention and to celebrate Louisiana’s incredible music heritage.


The event would not have existed if it weren’t  for our partners, so we would like to thank them for their support and for believing in music the way we do: Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission, CREATE and Lafayette Consolidated Government.

The first 2019 Music Cities Convention will take place in Chengdu, China: it will be the first ever Asian edition and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Although for now head here to check out our Lafayette recap video:


Sound Diplomacy ANNOUNCES Music Strategy FOR the City of San Francisco

Following a competitive Request for Proposals earlier this year, the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development has selected Sound Diplomacy to develop a Music Strategy for the City and County of San Francisco.

The San Francisco music sector is a key contributor to the $6 billion local nightlife industry and $1.1 billion local outdoor festival industry, and is a vital piece of the City’s fabric as an arts and culture hub for residents and tourists alike. Despite music’s local significance, no comprehensive study has been conducted to-date to understand the scope of San Francisco’s music ecosystem or the industry’s needs.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Fillmore, (c) swimfinfan

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Fillmore, (c) swimfinfan

The San Francisco Music Strategy will provide a comprehensive mapping of the City’s music-related assets, including, among others, local performance, recording, and rehearsal spaces, industry professionals, and educational institutions. Drawing from stakeholder feedback and global best practices, this effort will result in a strategic plan to engage San Francisco music makers, industry stakeholders, and audiences to support the industry’s future growth.

As part of this work, Sound Diplomacy will conduct an analysis of existing opportunities for local music businesses and an assessment of local music policies. The firm will also engage the city’s stakeholders through an online survey and interviews conducted in San Francisco during the week of December 10-14. Currently underway, the Music Strategy project will be completed by September 2019.

Sound Diplomacy is the leading global advisor on music cities strategies and market development. As strategists for cities, developers, large private sector organizations and governments, Sound Diplomacy provides cutting edge research and market expertise in placing music and music business strategy in city, urban and development plans. They work in over 40 countries and with over 100 clients, spanning public, private and third sectors, such as the Greater London Authority (UK), the cities of Vancouver, Huntsville and Muscle Shoals (Alabama), Brisbane (AUS), the region of Northwest Arkansas and organizations such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

You can find more information about the project and contact details at:



sound diplomacy start VILNIUS' NIGHT TIME ECONOMY strategy

Sound Diplomacy was hired in September to develop a study and strategic recommendations on Vilnius' night time economy. We are working with Vilnius to develop, strengthen and further its night culture ecosystem and growth as a world-class place to live, work and visit. 


As part of this work, we're releasing a survey in English and Lithuanian to assess the city's night time ecosystem, evaluate its economic and social impact and determine its strengths and weaknesses. The survey will only be open for two weeks until November 18, 2018, so please make sure to answer now and share it if you are a resident or visitor of Vilnius!

The survey is a continuation of the research trip to Vilnius that Sound Diplomacy carried out in October. Katja Hermes, Director of the German Office and Head of Projects, and Paloma Medina, Research & Project Manager, spent four days in Vilnius conducting a series of roundtables and interviews with local stakeholders and visiting different night time economy and culture spaces.

 Over 50 people attended the “Meet the Night Mayors” event created by the Vilnius Night Mayor Mark A. Harold on October 23, 2018, featuring our project partners from VibeLab Mirik Milan and Lutz Leichsenring. 



Launched globally on 6th November at World Travel Market, London

Sound Diplomacy, the global leaders of the Music Cities movement, in partnership with ProColombia and the UNWTO are proud to launch the world’s most extensive guide ever written on music and tourism.

The music industry is growing at twice the rate of the global economy. Global tourism numbers are increasing as well, with tourist arrivals increasing by 7% in 2017, from a year previous. But the relationship between music and tourism has never been defined globally, to look at how the sectors can partner to increase economic value on both sides. This is what this white paper offers.


This is the first report commissioned by the UNWTO that specifically looks at music as a key, primary driver of tourism. While we all enjoy music when we're travelling, never has music been looked at as a primary source of travel and tourism, from individual experiences to festivals, music heritage and the use of music videos to promote, and share, local culture and local experience. This white paper serves as a source of inspiration to help those working in tourism better realise and capitalise on their music tourism assets and show that around the world; from Australia to Mississippi, China to Argentina, music tourism is increasing visits, increasing spend, bringing people together and creating jobs.

The music industry – from streaming to live music – is growing at twice the rate of the global economy right now, and music, across all genres, create a sense of togetherness and openness that few other artforms and expressions share. Music enhances traditional ceremonies. It creates a transcendental moments you remember forever and most importantly, it is ubiquitous. From our hotels to our airports, from bars and restaurants, music is everywhere. It's all around us. This report, featuring over a dozen case studies from all over the world, explores the role, value and importance of music as a tool to enhance your destination and better tell your story.

It will be launched exclusively at World Travel Market 2018 in a joint press conference, followed by a panel exploring the value of music tourism, featuring some of the authors of the report.

In addition to the release, Sound Diplomacy have announced the next global Music Tourism Convention – the world’s largest conference exploring the relationship of music and tourism – to be held in Liverpool, UK on September 5 & 6, 2019. Part of Music Cities Events – the leading global conference series exploring the role of music and culture on our cities, places and quality of life – the convention will feature speakers featured in the whitepaper alongside other keynotes.

To download the guide and learn more, click here.


Music Tourism Convention:  
Sound Diplomacy:


The Launch of Nocturnal Cities: Music Cities Events

November 2018 will be a very special month for Music Cities Events and Sound Diplomacy, as we will launch not one, but two brand new events dedicated to the Night Time Economy!

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Our first ever Nocturnal Cities Forum will be held in Truro, Nova Scotia on November 3, 2018 as part of Nova Scotia Music Week and will gather 150 delegates from all over Canada and the world, to participate in a full day of presentations, panels, and roundtable session in which we will explore the relationship between city planning, strategy, development and the night time economy.

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On November 22, 2018 we will travel south to Bogotá, Colombia, for our first Latin American Nocturnal Cities Conference. The event will discuss, debate and introduce new thinking on how to develop more vibrant night time economies, as well as on how to better manage the urban night. This event is a co-production between Sound Diplomacy, Bogotá Mayor’s Office and Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, and the event will also celebrate the fact that Bogotá is a designated City of Music since 2012 as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

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We truly believe that the night is just as important as the daytime and it is crucial to carefully plan those hours in order to create a safer and more dynamic environment for residents and tourists alike. We are proud to be able to start a dialogue on such topics in the beautiful cities of Truro and Bogotá and we are very excited for what’s to come!

Learn more about our Nocturnal Cities events here.

Download our new “A Guide to Managing your Night-Time Economy”, co-written with Andreina Seijas. Available in both Spanish and English.



29-30 August 2018 • Cologne, Germany

On August 29-30 2018 we headed to Cologne, Germany to kick off the third edition of Music Tourism Convention – the first to be held in Germany & mainland Europe – to explore what music tourism means and how cities can benefit from it. We had over 30 speakers and 150 delegates from all over the world in attendance, and we introduced a new feature to the convention which saw us and 75 of the attendees travel to Düsseldorf for a very special music tour of the city.


This year’s theme was “The Importance of Music Genres in Tourism Identity” and Cologne, with its impressive music history, was the perfect location to discuss crucial topics such as music heritage, music trails and guidance, music tourism strategies and economic impacts.

On Wednesday morning we welcomed our delegates to Hotel Pullman, where breakfast awaited, and after a warm welcome from the First Deputy Mayor of Cologne, the Managing Director of the NRW Tourism Board and the Director of Conventions & Marketing for the Cologne Tourism Board, we were ready to set the ball rolling with the first panel: “Let’s Talk About Genre – Learning From Local Customs”.


We then travelled to Mississippi, USA and then back to Europe with a presentation from Liverpool. The morning ended with a panel which aimed to answer the question “How Does Music Fit Into a Tourism Master Plan?” and a performance by Mississippi Music Ambassador Steve Azar, before we headed for lunch which was provided by Visit Mississippi.


After lunch we visited Japan and learned more about the “Northern Soul Movement” and then discovered the “Urban Jungle” of North-Rhine Westphalia, before grabbing pens and paper for Music Cities Events’ iconic roundtable.

Presentations spanning from classical music in Germany to Sydney’s live music ecosystem and from USA’s branding strategy to music tourism’s economic impacts concluded the session: meaning it was time for the evening reception, offered to guests by Visit Vancouver, and for the c/o Pop Festival Reception and Live Show.


On 30th August, a limited number of guests took part in a very special tour of Düsseldorf’s music scene offered in partnership with #VisitDüsseldorf and Starting with a double-decker bus ride from Cologne to Düsseldorf, participants then embarked on a walking tour guided by local experts to discover the city’s past and present music landmarks.


Stops along the way included Kling Klang Studio, Salon des Amateurs, Creamcheese and Unique Club; the tour ended at city hall, where lunch was served before a final panel discussion and presentation.


Day 2 ended on a high note with a special performance by Love Machine at Stone im Ratinger Hof, the historic music venue where Germany’s punk scene was born.


This year’s Music Tourism Convention couldn’t have gone better and we would like to thank our partners for making the event possible, as well as all the speakers and delegates for sharing our passion for music and contributing to unlocking the potential of music tourism around the world.


Our next Music Tourism Convention will be held in Liverpool in September 2019 and we’re already very excited! In the meantime, here’s the official event video :)



This article first appeared in CityMetric

In August 2018, the UK Parliament passed an amendment to the National Planning & Policy Framework (NPPF), including a few sentences collectively referred to as the ‘Agent of Change’ Principle. Now, in England, any new development – residential, commercial or otherwise –planned for a site next to a noise-making premises would need to mitigate any potential risk to the existing premises, before receiving planning permission.

The new rule applies not just for music venues and nightclubs on high streets next to new developments; but also light industrial, factories and ‘back-of-house’ creators, such as art studios, instrument makers and textile manufacturers. It also defends existing residential developments: if a music venue wished to open in a quiet neighbourhood, it would need to demonstrate soundproofing, quiet dispersal and other requirements to get planning permission.

This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not a panacea, because there isn’t one. Local plans need to be rewritten and this rule must be respected in local decisions. There will be missteps – but the introduction of Agent of Change is a start to creating a more sustainable, healthy and supportive music and creative ecosystem in London and across England.

But we need to do more. So, what’s next on the list?

Here’s a few ideas that I feel are worth pursuing, so we can make the UK the world’s best place for musicians, creatives and all of us who benefit from, or interact with, their creative output.

1. Ratify Agent of Change in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

This is a simple request, but one which requires local change in each country. Both Scotland and Wales have brought bills to their parliament to introduce this in their planning systems. It would be beneficial for the entire country, not just England, to make Agent of Change law.

2. Re-engage a debate about licensing

This is not specifically a British problem – mixing alcohol, live music and regulation, primarily at night, causes headaches everywhere. From Pittsburgh to Tbilisi, Tokyo to Bogota, striking a balance in regulating the night time economy is a challenge that divides communities.

But the current system here in the UK certainly doesn’t work. Local engagement in licensing hearings is low, and the people who chair and run these committees are often not the same people experiencing, and benefitting from, the activities they are regulating. The average age of a UK Councillor is over 60 (although this is gradually changing); and reactionary decisions create a mistrust in civic society: look at the London Borough of Hackney, for example.

In addition, since last year’s thorough licensing review by the House of Lords, which outlined the failures in the interpretation of the 2003 Licensing Act, nothing’s been done. A reduction in local authority staff and an increase in workload has compounded this problem: complicated, life-altering decisions are being made by those who lack the experience to do so.

The current failing regime is even putting further unnecessary stress on our health and social care system. Folkestone’s licensing framework, for example, recently introduced changes to limit evening and night time economy uses: Kent Online referred to the changes as a “final nail in the city’s coffin”, because it will further lead to the city attracting pensioners, rather than the young workers needed to support social care. This is not inevitable: further up the coast, Margate, is doing the opposite.

Across England, there have been a number of successful schemes promoting the benefits of the Night Time Economy. London has a Night Czar, Manchester a Night Mayor and Plymouth a Night Time Manager. More cities have joined the Purple Flag accreditation scheme for places that offer a good night out.

But such progress is still not reflected in policy. Licensing decisions are still based on negatives. And when locals can object to a business before its doors even open, that objection will be based on what it represents, rather than what it is.

So: let’s talk more about licensing.

3. Prioritise Our Small Towns and Cities More

I’m proud of being a small cog in the big machine that has worked to improve the music policy ecosystem in London. While we’ve had successes, there’s much work to do there.

But I feel now’s the time to prioritise the music infrastructure in our small towns and cities – and recognise that, to incubate talent, we need to start at all sources. Many small towns and cities, from Peterborough to Wells, Oban to Fishguard, have seen decreases in their music infrastructure since 2010. Only a few local music organisations remain – the rest were victims of austerity – and venues in which to play are closing, with new artists now relying on their parents, or infrequent night buses, to take advantage of performance opportunities.

This creates a talent development framework that relies more on uploading covers to YouTube than on engaging with one’s peers. Mix that with a reduction in music education provision, less budget for music services and the closure of youth clubs, and you get a perfect storm in which, in essence, we forget about the talent in our small towns and cities.

This must change. We need a national music towns strategy to audit existing infrastructure, ensure it is protected through the planning and licensing system as best as possible, and provide the tool for local authorities to better promote venues. We need a mechanism to turn vacant buildings over to creatives, on peppercorn rent, as practice facilities. We need all BIDs and LEPs to develop music policies and treat music as an industry, like any other. All this is possible.

We have much work to do in the UK. Here’s hoping next year, we have more to celebrate to ensure we’re continually creating the most music friendly country on the planet.