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. It is a joint venture of the nonprofit Rethink Next and Maremel Institute’s Center for Creative Futures, along with more than 30 participating organizations around the world.
Gigi and Storm met at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, a few years ago at several different panels on “Music Cities,” engaging with local music leaders across different regions who were all wrestling with the changes and tensions in local music communities. Storm has spent several years conducting research and developing courses around Music Cities topics. Gigi was wrestling with questions of the futures of local music scenes, especially in Los Angeles. In 2019, 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 canceled and stay-at-home orders were enacted, the damage to music ecosystems throughout the U.S. and the world grew more devastating.
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.
And then the pandemic and its challenges amplified and continued.
We are “bringing the band back together” to regroup on where we are going for 2021 and beyond and what these shifts and challenges bring to music communities in April 2021. We also are going to be sharing stories from cities and countries around the world in how the crisis has pushed change and transformation.
We welcome you to attend, participate, and share your stories of challenge and success in these world-shifting times.
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.