Last week I read an article titled, "Where Young College Graduates are Choosing to Live." The article mentions that cities like Denver, Portland, and Nashville have become hubs for the young and educated. Read the article if you want, but it never mentions music, which will naturally be the subject of this muse. More specifically, I'll offer a little about how a vibrant music scene impacts a community.
The cities mentioned above, plus Austin, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Des Moines, are among cities that transformed or grew during the recession. They have become popular hubs for tech-start ups, microbreweries, and not-so-coincidentally also have renowned music cultures, or are making a concerted effort to generate one.
Oklahoma City and Des Moines do not have the music reputation of Austin or Portland, but through projects like Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM, Oklahoma City) and the Des Moines Music Coalition these cities are investing in the infrastructure to create and support music culture. ACM develops the crafts of local players, and draws more music students to the city and state. The sister-school to the original Guilford, UK location, ACM opened in OKC the same year the now-thriving Thunder brought the NBA to the city for good. Since 2000, OKC's population has grown about 20%.
Recession or not, when you give bands a place to play, and when you give patrons music to see and hear, they'll all go out and spend money. They'll spend it on gas to get there. Tickets or a cover to get in, beer at the show. They'll buy records, and the artist will use that money to pay photographers, web designers, independent t-shirt shops, and to buy more gas to go do it all again. Music enlivens its surroundings.
Consider the layers of economic stimulation that comes with a good music nightlife: cab drivers, restaurants, bar owners, alcohol manufacturers, farmers who grow the grain for the booze. We could dissect this further-- engineers who built the tractors for the farmers...
My neighborhood in Omaha, Benson, also demonstrates how music can grow a neighborhood. Over the past five to ten years, several new venues have opened, along with other independent businesses such as microbreweries, cafes, and an arts collective (which also has a venue...and a cafe...). On any given night of the week, Benson offers live entertainment. The five-block strip on Maple St. has become one of the hoppin-est neighborhoods in the city.
When you go out to a show, or buy an album, or support a crowd-sourcing project, you are not just supporting an artist. You are supporting your entire community. Not only do you get the invaluable pleasure of experiencing the music, you are also investing in healthy growth for your city. Go support some music, you will literally make your home more valuable.