Thursday evening I had the chance to attend a seminar entitled, Music’s Impact on the Community. This superb and fascinating event was held at Michigan State University’s Center Community and Economic Development in Greater Lansing.
Not only did the program present useful research by Professor David Sheridan, but also a firsthand account from a local hip-hop performer. The latter added exceptional insight into the promises and pitfalls of the music industry from the perspective of an emerging artist, Jahshua Smith.
Among the key points noted during this event were:
- an Industry, as it has a product, deliverables, technologies, and a distribution network;
- an Attractor of tourists and human capital (talent, creative, knowledgeable, and skilled);
- a Brand, as it can become synonymous with a community and its very identity – examples include:
Detroit (Motown and Techno)
Cleveland (Rock n’ Roll)
Austin (live performance)
Owensboro (Bluegrass); and
- a Nurturer of Creativity that has economic development benefits
- Budding artists need places (venues) to hone their craft. Open microphone nights are an excellent opportunity for this, but helps if there is “buy-in” from established musicians. Smaller markets like Lansing are great locations to learn, improve, practice, receive feedback, and become established, as there is less competition and less of a music establishment.
- The internet has made it easier to be a musician but harder to stand out from the crowd.
- Music is a great way to get people together from various backgrounds in one place for a common goal.
- Michigan State University provides Greater Lansing with a revolving door of fresh music talent to enjoy.
- Greater Lansing has excellent small venues and large venues that allow music to grow from the bottom up, but what it really needs is a mid-sized (approx.. 1,000 seat) venue.