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Background on the Indy Music Strategy


Timeline / Process


Phase I of the Indianapolis Music Strategy focused on the creation of a music vision for the city followed by an ecological impact assessment, which included a regulatory assessment – an in-depth exploration of current local policies impacting music – and benchmarking of Indianapolis with like-minded cities in the U.S. and abroad.

Phase II brought the Sound Diplomacy team to Indianapolis for a week of roundtable conversations, site visits and interviews, which were complemented with an online survey to involve the breadth and depth of the Indianapolis music sector to better understand, gauge and measure its music ecosystem. We also identified music-related uses in Indianapolis in a music ecosystem map.

Phase III was the culmination of the Indy Music Strategy after a year of research. It delivered an economic impact assessment of Indy's music ecosystem and a 3-year strategic plan with recommendations supported by the findings from previous project stages. This final report aims at ensuring music is part and parcel of Indianapolis' future growth.

Rationale for a Music Strategy

As Indianapolis continues to grow, and culture evolves as the centerpiece, success will come from a symbiotic relationship and a solid foundation between artists, government, businesses, and music consumers. Indianapolis needs a music strategy.


Music is inextricably tied to the economies, and brands, of many of our thriving American cities: think Nashville, Seattle, Atlanta, and Austin, to name a few. A closer look at Indianapolis’ music assets indicates that with some effort and coordination, Indianapolis could and should be included on that short list. In our current environment, artists struggle to reach regional success, venues and artists face legality and policy hurdles, and conversation about music is met with exclusion.

Laid out in the Indy Chamber’s Accelerate Indy economic development plan, to be competitive, we need to invest in a vibrant and inviting image, in attractive and connected places, and build an identity and culture around innovation and entrepreneurship. 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. 

Through the music strategy, we will develop a blueprint to drive the music economy in Indianapolis by creating a formal inventory of our music assets and building a support framework for our artists and venues. Music has the power to generate economic growth, increase tax revenues, attract the brightest talent, and contribute to the health of cities. A comprehensive strategy delivers:


  • employment and skills growth

  • economic development

  • increased conferences and events

  • talent attraction and retention

  • community engagement

  • better places & spaces

  • enhanced reputation

  • increased tourism

  • international networks

  • stakeholder engagement

The Music Cities Strategy will directly complement the Cultural Economies Initiative for Indianapolis, which emphasizes the creative class by laying out the need for a focus on music, film and new media, design, food, and sports and recreation. The Cultural Economies Initiative offers some insight into the intersection of economic, cultural, and community development. In its vision for music, the initiative calls for a local music scene and economy that is supported by a diverse all-ages audience for both traditional music offerings and new music.


  • Visit Indy: Janet Arnold and Matt Carter

  • Central Indiana Community Foundation: Clayton De Fur

  • City of Indianapolis: Scarlett Martin

  • MusicCrossroads: Julie Burns

  • MOKB Presents: Josh Baker

  • Live Nation: Dan Kemer

  • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: David Armstrong

  • Big Car: Oreo Jones and Jim Walker

  • Musical Family Tree: Sharlene Birdsong and Jim Rawlinson

  • MIBOR: Zachary Churney

  • Create Fountain Square: Kelli Mirgeaux

  • Chreece Presents: Oreo Jones and Ron Miner

  • Bohlson Group: Andy Wilson

  • Eskenazi Health: Michael Kaufmann

  • Kheprw Institute: Diop & Imhotep Adisa

  • United Way: Alan Bacon

  • Arts Council of Indianapolis: Ernest Disney-Britton & Julie Goodman

Photos and videos from the Music Cities Forum, May 2018.

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