Well, it looks like Toronto and Austin are now twins. Music city twins, that is. Each city’s respective council have approved a musical alliance partnership between the two cities.The music city initiative, 4479 (named after Toronto’s longitude and latitude coordinates), is lead by Music Canada. 4479 will be a collaborative effort between Toronto city official and members of the music industry to increase attention and tourism towards Toronto’s music scene. 4479 also plans to make Toronto a leading music destination. The city of Toronto will work to strengthen relationships with other music cities around the world, particularly Austin, TX. Austin is a city that has seen amazing growth and tourism traffic in recent years thanks to music industry events such as South by South West and Austin City Limits, among others. This seems to be an exciting time for the industry here and for the city of Toronto as a whole; but while this is a great step for our city, one can’t help wonder just how much of an impact this alliance can make on the culture and economy of Toronto - in actuality.
The City of Austin has no doubt benefited in the past (and will in the future) from the plethora of music industry events, specifically SXSW (which injected $190 Million into the Austin economy in 2012!), but the relationship has been reciprocal. The Austin government, local businesses and residents have welcomed this culture change with open arms; one can only wonder if the same will happen here in Toronto, Canada.
Early reports online mention the cultural and economic growth is on its way to the city through investment, job creation and improved quality of life. It is still early, but it would be great to get some real, human information on just how this alliance will benefit Torontonians. There are many confused people wondering: What is in this for me? How will this affect me as an independent musician in the GTA? How will this affect me as a music and entertainment enthusiast? As a small venue owner or promoter? What can I look forward to? Of course, if you’re directly comparing Austin to Toronto, we have a VERY long way to go. One just can’t help but be skeptical at this point. We would love to see some detailed action steps!
One could argue that the cultural make-up of Austin has long since been entrenched in supporting music for many many years. When you go to SXSW you see a city fully in love with music. The cops are even smiling as 6th street swarms with drunk music fans, drinking, yelling, and celebrating music! Elderly couples open up their homes to house performing artists and make them breakfast. In a city like Toronto, where finding a space for an outdoor party is truly hell, and the government and general civilian’s attitude to music is usually lacklustre at best - not to mention horribly clouded by red tape - I could NEVER see this type of Austin spirit replicating in Toronto to be honest. I love the idea of it and I love Austin, but there is a deeper spirit in Austin that is connected to music and I don’t know if it’s something Toronto can just waltz into. I think it is built into their blood. Kudos for Music Canada for trying and I hope we do change some people and organizations’ attitudes one at a time, there is never any harm in that. But any sweeping statements just make me shudder.
That being said, we are hopeful. We love Toronto and will go to hell and back to bring amazing music and community events to this market and strengthen it! In our mind Toronto has always and will always be a significant music city!
What are your thoughts? Tweet us at @audiobloodmedia!
- This blog was a collaborative effort by Brandon Keen, Kaitlyn Davies, and Sari Delmar