By Jeffrey Martin
One of the music strategy’s original goals was to have a full blown economic impact study conducted for Hamilton. Other “music cities” like Seattle, New York, Melbourne, Austin, Toronto know the importance of these studies. They provide a measure for the industry in terms of its size and breadth, number of jobs and the overall financial impact on the local economy. The music strategy team was unanimous that a proper economic impact study of Hamilton’s music industry is long, long overdue.
“To be honest, an economic impact study is the most important task that needs to be done,” says Madeline Wilson, former music strategy team co-chair. “Anything that we can use to measure the financial impact of music on our city’s economy should be embraced. It can help our music businesses. We see how busy local restaurants and businesses are so busy before concerts and music shows – so the indirect impact is big. Very big.”
The impact study should’ve been done three years ago when the music strategy was launched. It’s a time-consuming process and there are not a lot of companies that do them. The fact that Hamilton has not conducted one is like going into battle without a sword says Wilson.
“It’s critical if we want to be able to identify Hamilton as a strong music economy,” says Wilson. “We need to know the total value of the city’s music industry – the direct impact such as jobs, wages and sales as well as the indirect impact on the food and beverage industry, hotels, taxis and transit, tourism. We need to know how much our major concerts, our festivals, our music businesses and institutions contribute to the local Hamilton economy. We need this benchmark – cold hard economic facts. And then we can determine where we need to focus our efforts and resources to grow and strengthen the industry.”
You only have to look at a few events to see get a sense of the magnitude and impact of Hamilton music industry on the city’s economy. In 2014, Supercrawl contributed $14 million+ to local economy. The five Garth Brooks concerts at FirstOntario Centre in 2015 sold 80,000 tickets for a total gate of $6.4 million. As all FOC concerts do, they filled the rooms and seats of Hamilton’s hotels and restaurants for four days generating indirectly another $14 to $15 million for the local economy. And there are hundreds of music events every year.
When Hamilton hosted JUNO Awards in 2015, it generated an estimated $12 million for the city. Then consider the “industry” itself: all the musicians, groups, music businesses and professionals, clubs and bars, the record stores, recording studios, instrument makers, music shops, and the incomes of people who work in the local music industry, in music education, and the suppliers who also support the music like graphic designers, photographers, music video producers, merchandise suppliers, and many more. We’re talking about a sector that directly and indirectly contributes hundreds of millions of dollars every year to Hamilton’s economy. And this deserves some serious attention in terms of economic development.
“An economic impact study will be a top priority of a new independent music association that is in the development stages now,” says Wilson. “It will serve as our industry benchmark and will help us secure the kind of funding we want and need to help strengthen, build and promote Hamilton’s music community and music scene. We want to help musicians and music professionals grow. We want to see our recording studios and music stores thrive. We want to see more children participating in music and music education. And we want to see our musicians recognized for what they do to make our city such a vibrant and culturally rich place to live.”