Sound Diplomacy is the global expert in developing long term and self sufficient music strategies. We have worked in over 40 countries and with over 100 clients, spanning public, private and third sectors, such as the Greater London Authority, City of Vancouver and UNIDO. We are proud to be working with the Shoals area (Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia) to develop a music impact assessment and strategy and help to increase its economic value across the region.

This website will be updated regularly, with reports on what has been done, what is planned, key dates, and an opportunity for you to comment on the process. Email with the Subject line 'SUBSCRIBE SHOALS’ to get updates straight to your inbox, and to get an alert when new pieces of research or participatory surveys are published online.


What we have done

Katja Hermes, Director of the German Office and Head of Projects, and Azucena Micó, Senior Project Manager, spent two days in the are, conducting a series of roundtables and interviews with local stakeholders and visiting some of its main music spaces.

We conducted roundtable sessions and several interviews, and spoke with over 30 local stakeholders to get more insights on the area's music ecosystem.

On October 4, Shain Shapiro travelled to the area and conducted 2 more roundtables and an Open Forum where he explained the next steps of the project.

In November, we closed the music tourism and the music ecosystem surveys. Its analysis will form part of our Strategic recommendations. In addition, we submitted the first deliverables, including regulatory assessment and literature review.

We’re currently gathering data for the upcoming Economic Impact analysis and we continue speaking to stakeholders from across the region’s music ecosystem.

Between December and March we have been analysing the results of all the pieces of research, that will conclude in the final draft of the report in April. Azucena Micó presented the first draft of the action plan to the four cities in March. There will be a revision period after that.

In May 2019 Sound Diplomacy presented a first draft of the Music Ecosystem Assessment and Strategy.


Mayor wants to entice RCP Companies to the Shoals” - Times Daily, 23 Jan, 2019

How Muscle Shoals can help Huntsville music grow” -, 31 Jul, 2018

Shoals could benefit from proposed Music Cities Study” - Times Daily, 14 Apr, 2018


Overall timeline:


Step 1

Stakeholder Database Development

Comparative Analysis & Benchmarking

June 2018

June-Aug 2018


step 2

Interviews & Survey

Aug-Sept 2018


step 3

Data Capture and Economic Mapping

Sept 2018


step 4

Survey Data Capture and Analysis

Draft Strategic Plan

Nov - Dec 2018

Dec 2018


step 5

Music Strategy & Action Plan

May 2019

General information

Please contact us if you require any further information.

Katerina Ivanova, Project Manager

Kat is a project manager and researcher with six years of experience in market research and cultural industries management. She’s passionate about music, night-time culture, and urban planning. At Sound Diplomacy since 2016, Kat works on music and music tourism strategies for cities and countries (Armenia, Brisbane, Peru), as well as programming & management of events (Music Cities Convention, Reeperbahn, BIME, German Haus at SXSW).

Azucena Micó, Project Lead

Azucena is Senior Project manager at Sound Diplomacy. She has managed some of the company's biggest projects, including music market analysis and music strategies for cities, countries and spaces. At the moment, she is working in music city strategies for the City of San Francisco, The City of Huntsville (Alabama) and the region of Northwest Arkansas; she is coordinating an economic impact analysis of a festival in Mallorca; she is managing the design of a two-year project to strengthen the Cuban music industry through UNIDO; and is the coordinator of Fabra i Coats Creative Factory Music Committee, among others. She holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Policies and Management and a Masters Degree on Cultural Production and Communication. She is an academic researcher in the field of social value of music in the urban environment and guest lecturer at Universitat Blanquerna Ramon Llull in Barcelona.

Katja Hermes, Project Director

Katja Hermes is the Head of projects at Sound Diplomacy. She founded the Sound Diplomacy Berlin office in October 2013. In this role Katja has consulted several cities on their Music City strategy, gave lectures about Music Cities at events over the world and initiated the Music Cities Network together with the Hamburg Music Business Association (IHM). She worked on the development of several funding projects for German institutions and has consulted with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, GIZ, Adam Mickiewicz Institute Poland, Nordic Embassies Berlin and many other institutions. Katja has been working in the music business for more than 12 years. She has worked in various fields in the industry including at Mutek Festival, Ableton and Initiative Musik, the German funding organisation, where she was responsible for the export projects. Katja holds a diploma in Geography and Economy, with a focus on urban planning and creative industries.