Economic Impact Study

Chicago Music Commission and University of Chicago Publish Landmark Music Study

The CMC commissioned the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Cultural Policy to undertake the first-of-its kind Economic Impact Study.

This unique study details the size, scope and significance of Chicago music as an economic engine, compares its economic contributions to our peer cities across the country (including New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Memphis, Austin and Seattle) and provides a benchmark for the CMC, the City of Chicago and the Chicago music community to measure their future performance.


We wanted to see how Chicago’s music industry and scene stack up against those in comparable cities. To do this, we worked with UC to develop a set of indicators for which they could gather 2004 data not just on the Chicago area, but on all fifty of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

For most of these indicators, Chicago’s strengths can best be gauged against a comparison group of ten (10) other cities.

These include New York and Los Angeles – with Chicago, America’s biggest urban centers — plus eight others with reputations as music-rich cities: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and Seattle.

For each of these eleven metropolitan areas, the study looks at:

  • The size and shape of the music industry – measured by total employment, number of businesses, payroll, revenues, and sales of recordings.
  • The availability, affordability, and accessibility of live music – measured by numbers of performances, tickets sold, sell-out rates and gross receipts for these shows.
  • The quality, variety, and intensity of the live music scene – measured by percentage of shows performed by the biggest stars and the most critically-acclaimed artists, the size of venues, the range of musical offerings, the number of grassroots performers, and the geographical distribution of clubs.

View the Executive Summary or the full Economic Impact Study in PDF format.

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