- Dr. Gigi Johnson, President, Maremel Institute; Faculty, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
- Associate Professor Storm Gloor, College of Arts & Media, University of Colorado Denver
We have spent several years conducting research and developing courses around Music Cities topics. More recently, we combined our efforts to investigate 71 city-focused reports and analyses on cities’ music ecosystems throughout the world. Our research and summary had been accepted for presentation at 2020’s South By Southwest conference. We were going to recommend that these ecosystems talked with each other more, connecting their ideas between these groups of organizations, all independently doing good work from a variety of different directions and points-of-view. We kept meeting people who were not talking with each other, and we were proposing to find more common ground and connected practices.
And then there was this world-shifting pandemic.
Upon SXSW’s relatively last-minute cancellation and being “all dressed up with no place to go”, an initial plan to simply hold their presentation online seemed like the best way to at least get the conversation started. Bringing in other related speakers would also make sense, too. However, as more and more music businesses, events, concerts, etc., were cancelled and stay-at-home orders were enacted, the damage to music ecosystems throughout the U.S. and the world grew more devastating.
A virtual gathering of stakeholders in our music economy should and could be now and more immediately focused on how communities and their ecosystems could be resilient to this disaster and its short- and long-term effects on our industry. We thought, “Let’s put on a gathering as a virtual conference on April 17.” Little did we know this would get bigger and we’d be moving it out a week and expanding its span and reach.
We approached potential partners for this small virtual conference, and found a fair amount of interest from parties not just around the US, but also from a variety of other countries. The Virtual Gathering — now known as Amplify Music 2020 — moved to April 23 and 24, and grew to a twenty-five-consecutive-hour program to accommodate time zones throughout the world and bring as many voices to the table as possible. Amplify Music’s mission is to bring together diverse music leaders and creators to learn and share from local artists, venues, creative communities, and support networks to address the challenges of COVID-19.
We are truly appreciative of all our contributors who have made it possible to convene more than ninety speakers and eleven central themes to address what is easily the highest priority of music communities everywhere.