Sound Diplomacy publishes latest report on ‘future cities’ and music


Financial-services firm Legal & General isn’t a company we write about much for Music Ally, so why today? No, it’s not diversifying into AR-music livestreamed holograms on the blockchain. Not yet, anyway. Instead, Legal & General is the commissioner of the latest report from music consultancy Sound Diplomacy, which is arguing the case once again for music to play a more-prominent role in the process of planning ‘future cities’.

The report is available here, and casts its net wider than just music: it’s about how music and other forms of culture should be involved in redeveloping cities. Its recommendations include mapping the ‘cultural offering’ of neighbourhoods, from venues and clubs to rehearsal studios and artist workspaces; inviting artists in to consult with town-planners and designers; creating more ‘mixed-use’ developments where venues and artist spaces sit alongside shops; levying taxes on cultural events to fund this kind of development; and encouraging developers to value culture alongside commerciality.

The report also sets out 10 more principles to make sure music and culture aren’t de-prioritised: snappy slogans like ‘music and experience are embedded in residential experience’; ‘A chamber of culture is as important as a chamber of commerce’; and ‘Buildings are creative platforms, not single assets’ with explanations to back them up. It’s a good set of arguments to make at a time when small venues and artistic spaces in many cities are under threat for a cocktail of reasons, from planning regulations and licensing changes to rises in rental costs.

The backing of a large financial institution is an encouraging sign, too. “Responsible investors recognise that ‘build and they will come’ no longer works and that to create a real sense of place, fundamentals like music, art and education need to be considered at an early stage,” as Sound Diplomacy CEO Shain Shapiro put it. There may not obviously be a ‘digital’ angle here, but the companies that Music Ally more usually writes about – from streaming services to music rightsholders – can also get involved in the debates about music and future cities, to positive effect.

Stuart Dredge

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