Uneasy alliances

Popular music and cultural policy in the ‘music city’

Authored by: Catherine Strong , Shane Homan , Seamus O’Hanlon , John Tebbutt

The Routledge Handbook of Global Cultural Policy

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138857827
eBook ISBN: 9781315718408
Adobe ISBN:


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Administrators and policy makers in a number of cities worldwide (for example, Austin, Berlin and Liverpool) are increasingly seeking to utilise local music to promote their cities’ cultures and increase tourism and trade. Designation as a ‘music city’, ‘sonic city’ or indeed as a formally recognised UNESCO ‘City of Music’ is seen as a means of harnessing local music cultures for the purposes of city branding and economic development. The concept of the ‘music city’ clearly has utility for governments and policy makers; however, a critical understanding of its parameters and usage has yet to be developed. In this chapter, we draw on a range of disciplinary traditions to examine the concept of the ‘music city’ with a view to understanding how cultural policy is changing in relation to popular music and how in turn the process of formally recognising music as a driver of cultural policy may be changing the relationships of governments, those working in the music industry, musicians, and the wider community.

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