The Economic Benefits of A Thriving Music Scene

Last week I examined the varying rates of income for entertainers in different regions in Ireland. That post focused more so on the economic gains which individuals can make off of music, but this week I would like to focus more so on the economic gains which society can accumulate from music.

A report titled The Mastering of a Music City discusses the economic gains associated with a city having a thriving music scene. These include employment, tourism, cultural development, and artistic growth among other things. Nashville’s music cluster helped to create and sustain more than 56,000 jobs while a study of Melbourne found that spending at small venues, concerts, and festivals supported 116,000 annual full-time jobs.

A thriving music scene also has the benefit of creating spin-off economic benefits for pubs, restaurants, and hotels located in the city. During the COVID pandemic the arts and entertainment industry have been particularly hard hit due to the necessity of public gatherings for their industry. I just wonder though might it be time for the cities of Ireland to start uping their game with regard to developing music scenes anyway?

The report identifies key components which are necessary to foster a music scene within a city. They are musicians, access to spaces, a receptive audience, a thriving music scene, and music-related businesses i.e. record labels. Now of these I’m not sure there are many the government can play too much of a role in.

Audiences cannot be made more receptive for example. Neither can a thriving music scene just be created, these will develop if a thriving music scene flourishes but I don’t think they can be instantly created artificially. In terms of musicians and music-related businesses I have made it clear in previous posts that I am skeptical of the new social welfare scheme for self-employed artists will produce many new musicians. It is with regard to spaces that I think the government can really help.

It is hard to artificially create a music scene, however, it is possible to create a setting which is more conducive towards attracting musicians and entertainers. The use of public spaces for performing arts has long been successful in some Irish cities like Waterford for example. The use of Cork City’s Marquee site for a collection of events creates a large amount of economic activity during the summer. This can be done throughout the year as well with the development of more concert venues and theaters in our cities and with easing of late bar restrictions on condition of music being played.

These strategies would foster and develop music scenes within Ireland in a more natural and organic type of way. Creating the infrastructure and setting for sustainable performing arts events will believe it or not make the performing arts a more sustainable industry and attract more performing artists to Ireland’s cities. As Richard Thaler always says “If you want people to do something, make it easy” If you are interested in keeping up with more analysis of the Irish music industry, please give Music Economics a like on Facebook.

By Daragh O’Leary

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