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Innovating Music

75 EpisodesProduced by Gigi JohnsonWebsite

In this Innovating Music podcast, we talk about disruptive technologies in music. Hosted by Gigi Johnson and produced by the UCLA Center for Music Innovation at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, we bring together unique voices from inside and outside of the music industry. As Kevin Kelly has b… read more


Music Cities: Connecting Stories of Music Lives

Don and Peter shared their experience performing music ecosystem audits for four cities. The 2015 Austin Music Census and their continuing studies of Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC are more than doing a venue count. They gather the personal, qualitative stories of local life as an artist and musician in a community. They also began to take a look at what really then happens post-study with a community, including what happens with local community groups. Folks can end up swimming in different directions. They are beginning to have enough information to look across cities to compare and contrast the lives of artists. And in some cases, they have gathered up to 12 different ways that a single musician makes a living through music in this live and digitally connected age. They have great insights to share about how local makes a tremendous difference in what the superpowers are for a city. They also share how some smaller organizations and some smaller cities are making a difference and how it's more than the city -- it also is the ecosystem of the region.

Guests: Don Pitts and Peter Schwarz, Co-Founders, Sound Music Cities

About Sound Music Cities: Based in Austin, Texas, Sound Music Cities was born from direct experience in music-related policy, music development program implementations, and leadership of sound management initiatives. Founded by Don Pitts and Peter Schwarz in 2017, the team has extensive experience in music strategy that balances the needs of the music and nightlife industry with the needs of the community. Their growing list of clients includes WYEP Pittsburgh, The City of Pittsburgh Office of Nighttime Economy, The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, The City of Seattle Office of Film and Music, and the Government of the District of Columbia Office of Cable TV, Film, Music and Entertainment.

Don Pitts: After 30 years in the music and entertainment industry, Don Pitts launched Sound Music Cities to help emerging and established music and entertainment cities find practical solutions to sound issues, and grow their music economy. Having garnered the nickname “The Sound Whisperer” from his tenure as the head of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department’s Music and Entertainment Division where he reduced sound complaints by 70%, Don brings his experience and passion for creating vibrant music cities to Sound Music Cities and its clients. Originally from Nashville, Don has gone far and wide in the music industry, doing everything from managing bands and venues, to handling entertainment relations for Gibson Guitar, to co-founding the North American Music Cities Summit, to working in the public sector. His strategic perspective lies at the cross-section of these experiences – lending him the ability to navigate and bring together the political and industry landscapes. While with the City of Austin, Don’s leadership fueled programs to increase prosperity for musicians, music businesses and music venues – all important when building a sustainable economic engine. Don values political know-how, street-smarts and active listening skills – three things that help when beginning to connect the dots over the course of a large music ecosystem project. 

Peter Schwarz:  Peter Schwarz brings almost four decades of experience as a musician and a business leader to the team. He recently completed a long-term commercial music industry plan for the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department, Music and Entertainment Division, as well as authored research studies for “The Pittsburgh Music Ecosystem Study” and the City of Seattle’s 2018 Music Industry Survey. He was previously for 14 years the executive-in-charge of all of Ray Benson’s holdings, including Asleep at the Wheel and Bismeaux Records. He oversaw album releases and artist management for Carolyn Wonderland, Willie and the Wheel, Raul Malo, A Ride With Bob, Texas Tornados, Wheeler Brothers, Aaron Behrens, and the 2015 GRAMMY-winner Still The King. Earlier experience includes festival coordination, arts programming, album producing, touring musician and composer (as a member and manager of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys), protégé of master Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa, and longtime musical collaborator with his father, Tracy Schwarz, of The New Lost City Ramblers. Schwarz is a graduate of Harvard College (BA) and the McCombs School of Business (MBA).

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