Music Cities Events organizes international conferences about music cities, music policy and music tourism. Alongside their Music Cities Awards, they run a Music Cities Community, where professionals in all industries use music to create more value in towns, cities and places. We spoke to their CEO Luke Jones about how he got into the industry and the story behind Music Cities.
1. Can you tell us how you got into the music industry at the start of your career?
I grew up in a small town in London called Morden, and the only reason anyone ever visits is because they fall asleep on the Northern Line. Luckily though I have two older brothers and they’d started a band by the time I was 12. I didn’t play music myself and took the more organisational route, so I was putting on sold-out all-ages shows at the age of seventeen. I moved to Leeds at 18 to study Events Management, and started organising 400+ capacity monthly club-nights, one-off warehouse parties and created a ticket-selling website. I also started working for a promotion company in Leeds called Futuresound, and on major music festivals, as well as the London Cultural Olympiad. I then moved to Vienna, Austria in 2012, and set-up two more monthly club-nights, and started to run the events department for the international tech company Zuvoo, overseeing 50+ yearly events in Europe and the US. I moved back to London in 2017 to take on the stewardship of the Music Cities Events brand, helping to grow the brand into the biggest, global series of music cities focused events & conventions, whilst also launching the Music Cities Awards, Music Cities Community and forming the brand into its own company in January 2020.
2. Can you explain what Music Cities Events is and how artists can benefit from the platform?
A music city is a community with a vibrant music economy, where music is integrated into the ecosystem, right from policy and infrastructure, to private actors, ranging from business professionals to audience members.
Music Cities Events is an organisation whose mission is to educate people on the economic and social value of music, and to showcase the best uses of music by individuals, organisations and cities all over the world. The events we organise bring together stakeholders from the music industry, as well as government, real estate, tourism, health, education and beyond to find, discuss and implement best uses of music in tourism, city branding, night-time economy, social and economic development, placemaking, real estate, policy making and more. The Music Cities Awards recognise individuals and organisations working towards building better music ecosystems in their cities, and our Music Cities Community helps these stakeholders continue conversations beyond our events.
Our work directly impacts the way people perceive the value of music, creating a more supportive environment for artists and music making in cities around the globe. Apart from this, artists also work with us to showcase their music at our events.
3. Can you tell us how the idea of Music Cities Events came to life?
Music Cities Events started initially as the events brand for the conferences Sound Diplomacy started organising in 2016. Sound Diplomacy was already working with various organisations around the world on developing music strategies and helping to support music in cities, and wanted to amplify the impact by bringing people together to discuss these topics and share best practices. MCE was then turned into its own company at the start of 2020 to help it to grow and be able to reach even more stakeholders around the world.
4. How important is it for the music industry that an organisation like Music Cities Events exists?
Music Cities can provide a city with significant economic and employment benefits beyond their cultural and social benefits. For example, at our previous Music Cities Convention in Alberta, Canada, we discovered that indigenous music and musicians can be supported, showcased and promoted around the world through better music cities policies. We looked at the meaning of experiential hospitality and its importance for a music city. We also looked at location-based, digital music museums and their role in driving tourists to the city.
Our events help stakeholders come together to have many such important conversations that help music cities build better policies and communities for artists to thrive in, their art to be taken more seriously and invested in. We as an organisation would love for more and more artists to be involved in these events and conversations, hence we encourage them to use our special artist discounts(available at the end of this article) to attend our events and even join our Music Cities Community to engage in conversations with stakeholders across multiple job functions.
5. What’s in the pipeline for Sound Diplomacy in the future?
We have multiple events in the Autumn, including the Music Cities Forum in Hamilton Canada in September, Music Tourism Convention in Cape Breton Island in October, and the Music Cities Convention in Tulsa USA in November. As well as these conferences we have the Music Cities Awards in November (application period is still open for this), plus we will be running an EU capacity building programme to support the development of thriving music ecosystems in Europe, which is a part of the European Music Council’s MusicAIRE funding programme, and planned alongside Sound Diplomacy.
– Luke Jones, CEO, Music Cities Events (Part of Sound Diplomacy).
Here’s a 50% discount code that artists and professionals can use to buy tickets to any our upcoming events
To get your discounted ticket, please head here, select your event and ticket category and then paste the code “GROOVER50” in the “Do you have a promo code” section of the check out form.
Music Cities Forum, Hamilton, Canada, Sept 7-8 2022 – Link
Music Tourism Convention, Cape Breton Island, Canada, Oct 5-7 2022 – Link
Music Cities Convention, Tulsa, USA, Nov 2-5 2022 – Link
Music Tourism Convention, Cleveland Mississippi, USA, April 11-14 2023 – Link
Join our Music Cities Community here! Follow us to stay tuned on event updates and more!