Life, Death & Rejuvenation of the Great Music City

Dr Andrea Baker at SXSW in March 2014 discussing the machinations behind a Great Music City, with Nick O’Bryne (CEO of BIG SOUND and manager of renowned Melbourne based musician, Courtney Barnett), Christian Morin (Berlin Music Commission) and Don Pitts (Music Program Manager at the City of Austin).

On November 12, 2015, the City of Melbourne will hold Australia’s first Music Cities Symposium. The symposium, which evolved out of the City of Melbourne’s music strategy 2014-2017, aims to explore the ‘dynamism behind a music city’.

Senior Lecturer Dr Andrea Baker, a music and journalism historian at Monash University, is the academic representative on the council’s music committee.

Dr Baker has contributed to the strategy with her current research about ‘What Makes A Great Music City’, which builds on her long-standing work about digital and terrestrial cities and popular music, as published in her first book, Virtual Radio Ga Ga (Hampton Press, New York) in 2012.

Since 2013 Dr Baker has been exploring the music culture of Melbourne, Austin (Texas) and Berlin (Germany) and has compared those cities with 25 other music cities including New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Nashville and New Orleans, and others such as Liverpool and Glasgow, which have UNESCO Music City rankings.

Dr Baker’s current research, partly based on participant observation, also includes over 100 in-depth interviews with key music players from around the globe.

It is one of the first studies to document the connectivity between international cities, their musical offerings, and the global cultural economy, the findings of which will be published in her second (forthcoming) book, The Life, Death and Rejuvenation of the Great Music City.

State, local and inter-government (The Cultural Ministers Council) programs have long impacted on the sustainability of dynamic music cities, either through provision of industry support or regulation affecting the industry.

Dr Baker’s research plays an integral role in the development of strategies that seek to better understand the government’s and the music industry’s function, the opportunities they present, and the challenges faced by music cities around the globe.