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Looking to the future.

Through 50 years of change in the music industry, the Memphis music tradition has survived: a potent combination of originality, independence, entrepreneurship, a do-it-yourself ethic, and a commitment to experiment until the groove is right. This combination provided the catalyst for the creative and commercial achievements of the past, such as Sun Records, Stax Records, Hi Records, and independent hit-producing studios.

Music is one of Memphis' most vital industries and the primary reason our city is known throughout the world. Our music industry's $360 million annual economic impact is important to Memphis. The industry employs more than 4,500 people on a full- or part-time basis. Additionally, music is the basis of our tourism industry, which yields more than $1 billion annually. The Music Commission believes that this vital industry must be cultivated and strengthened.

The Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission exists to serve the Memphis music industry. This industry is comprised of working musicians and labels, large commercial music enterprises, and businesses of all shapes and sizes in between. The Commission has three goals: to increase the economic strength and impact of music businesses in Memphis, to recruit new music businesses to our city, and to market Memphis' contemporary music scene in a manner commensurate with the city's music legacy.

Over the last 16 months, the Music Commission has accomplished the following:

* Developed a strategic plan with significant community input.

* Doubled the Commission's annual funding.

* Underwrote expenses for local labels to exhibit at MIDEM, the world's largest music marketing conference.

* Established the Memphis Music Foundation to formalize and continue fund-raising efforts for music initiatives.

* Provided regular, free music business education opportunities to the public.

* Completed a comprehensive economic impact study of Memphis' music industry.

* Re-established the Musician's Advisory Council to provide a regular forum for local musicians to apprise the Commission of their needs and revise the strategic plan.

* Recruited and hosted the International Black Broadcasters Association conference.

* Planned an annual music conference for Memphis in 2005.

* Worked to recruit venture capital and entertainment lending practices to Memphis to invest money in local music businesses.

* Added free dental insurance to the free health insurance program for local musicians.

* Provided free parking to 40 of Beale Street's working musicians.

Memphis must leverage its tradition of originality, independence, and entrepreneurship to become a vibrant creative community. Memphis has made a greater contribution to popular music and global culture than any other city in the world. Today, even without a recording industry, Memphis continues to produce pioneering, globally-significant artists and producers in every genre of music. Our goal: celebrate our past while promoting our present. We want Memphis to be acknowledged as the Independent Music Capital of the World--the best place to be an unsigned artist or an independent label. For more information, you can contact the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission at (901) 543-5300.

Rey Flemings is president and CEO of the Memphis ond Shelby County Music Commission.
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Title Annotation:Music industry in Memphis
Author:Flemings, Rey
Publication:Business Perspectives
Geographic Code:1U6TN
Date:Sep 22, 2004
Previous Article:Economic impact of the music industry in Memphis and Shelby County.
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