Make Your Voice Count

April 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on Make Your Voice Count 

The title is the theme for the 2012 celebration of World Voice Day. Every year on April 16, otolaryngologists—head and neck surgeons and other voice health professionals worldwide join together to recognize World Voice Day. World Voice Day encourages men and women, young and old, to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits. The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery has sponsored the U.S. observance of World Voice Day since its inception in 2002.

Beyond the history of the initiative, this year’s theme is, perhaps, why I chose a career in Laryngology and care of the professional voice. Some of my earliest memories are of soloists in church who could pull every emotion out of a congregation in just one verse. Then, members who used their voice to pray and speak and who, by controlling dyanmics and breathing, accentuated words in a way that made utterances alive for me.   The voices reminded me so much of voices I heard on news footage of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. I was completely captivated by how these people made their voices count and seemed to almost never lose sight of the responsibility that comes with sharing words and stirring emotions.

Today, I take care of clergy, teachers, actors, radio announcers and personalities, and, yes, grammy award winning artists. Each of them has chosen to make their voice count singularly and in community.  The power of voice should never be underestimated or taken for granted.

How are you making your voice count?

H. Steven Sims, M.D. is a member of the CMC Board of Directors. He is an Otolaryngologist and Director at Chicago Institute for Voice, University of Illinois at Chicago as well as being a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

CMC in Gapers Block

March 7, 2010 by · Comments Off on CMC in Gapers Block 

On March 04, 2010 Gapers Block published an informative story about the Chicago Music Commission and its Musicians At Work Forums titled Mixing Sounds: The Chicago Music Commission. It includes quotes from musicians attending the February Forum, CMC Board Members Bruce Iglauer and Jim Goodrich and an interview with Executive Director Paul Natkin.

Jim Donio Interview – NARM

March 5, 2010 by · Comments Off on Jim Donio Interview – NARM 

Recorded 2 March 2010

Recently the CMC had a chance to speak with Jim Donio, President of NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers), which has an upcoming Crash Course and Convention in Chicago May 14 – 17.  Among the topics discussed:

  • A Brief history of NARM
    • When NARM started
    • How the music industry landscape has changed in that time
    • How NARM has adapted to those changes
  • An overview of the upcoming Crash Course/Convention in Chicago
    • What the convention offers to the various areas of the music industry
    • The Crash Course in conjunction with A2IM
    • where to get all the information and register for the Crash Course/Convention

In addition, Jim shared a ‘CMC only’ discount code for the Crash Course and/or Convention. Listen in to hear how generous a discount it is; use the code cmc2010 when you register.

Visit to learn more and the registration webpage for the Crash Course/Convention.


Audio MP3

Listen above or download by right clicking and saving.

Ignoring arts infrastructure

May 7, 2009 by · Comments Off on Ignoring arts infrastructure 

There is lots of news these days about the arts sector–music community included–being hit hard by the economic downturn due to artists failing to make their case with lawmakers, structural budget deficits, lack of policy planning, and a host of other causes.  This post in Gapersblock today makes the straight forward but all-too-often underappreciated point that “starving the arts makes little sense because art is important, not just culturally, but economically.”  Much like transportation infrastructure is vital to our national success and future ability to compete globally (and bridges collapsing in Minnesota is a glaring symptom of ignoring that), so to is our arts infrastructure. There are too many “collapsing bridges” in the arts communities these days.

CMC is glad advocates like Illinois Arts Alliance are working to prioritize these arts infrastructure, and arts funding, as our new governments in Washington and in Springfield push us through this economic storm.

Mapping cultural creativity v2

April 13, 2009 by · Comments Off on Mapping cultural creativity v2 

Some comments have pointed out that CMC’s Chicago: Music City report (drafted by the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center) uses variations on the mapping methodology discussed in our post here (and in the NYTimes piece) it references). That is correct.  If you’ve had a chance to read that document, you see that identifying and quantifying “scenes” is fundamental to the study and its underlying findings.   We certainly have seen the value in this kind of analysis as we’ve used the economic impact study to effectively make the case to officials here in Chicago that Chicago music is a significant economic force.  We don’t mean to suggest that these techniques are anything but innovative, important and helpful to music advocates.

Our point was that as music community advocates, it’s our job to give voice to those of identified scenes, but also those who are not always part of these scenes–and, ideally, to help generate community-driven development on the ground that helps create new scenes.   These research tools are but a (significant) part of that effort, of course.

CMC encourages more research like Professor Currid and others are now undertaking.  In Chicago we’ve got one of the nation’s leading cultural research institutions at the U of C’s Cultural Policy Center leading in just this kind of work.   We look forward to seeing what they produce.

Keep the comments coming.

"How utterly we fail at discussing culture in America"

April 13, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Newsweek recently reported on Wynton Marsalis’ speech to the arts advocate organization Americans for the Arts.   In it, he made his case for the importance of the arts to Americans.  He eloquently spoke of how throughout our history Americans have used “homegrown arts to make us into one people, to teach us who we are.”  He ended his speech by playing his horn to a standing and clapping crowd.  

Noting how art is not given its proper due in policy and political circles, the author of the piece faults what he considers arts advocates’ failed strategies:  talking about the economic and job-generating value of arts, or of art’s power in cultural diplomacy, or of art as powerful entertainment.  He then argues that “…amid all the demands for better funding for the arts, hardly anybody addresses the graver shortfall, which is for better thinking about the arts.”

Arts communities have clearly failed to develop a broad consensus about their importance and value.  And new and persuasive thinking is surely in order to make the case that art matters.  Just as we cannot reduce music to just an economic force, we also cannot rely on the emotional power and historical resonance of music in making our case that music matters.   We must come up with better “frames” with which to make our case, now more than ever.

But we should also not rely on just making the abstract case for art through framing.  Art is generated from communities, whether hyper-local ones or national ones.  We must work to support these communities.  We must make it easier and more rewarding to participate in these communities.  And we must articulate why these communities are fundamental to our national success.  

To do this, we can use community organizing tools to give artists a place at the policy making table.  We can develop music-friendly policies and laws and hold lawmakers accountable for their support–or lack thereof–of them.  This is the kind of hard work that CMC is doing now, and we think it’s the most effective way to give support to the wonderful advocates like Wynton Marsalis, who put into sound the value and power of art of everyday.

Mapping cultural creativity

April 13, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

So just where are “cultural hot spots” these days?  The New York Times recently wrote about some researchers who have proposed a “geography of buzz” that identifies and catalogs hot spots according to how often certain cultural events happen in or around them:  film and television screenings, music shows, gallery and theater openings, etc.  While you may think hipster hot spots would match “cultural” hot spots, this kind of data suggests otherwise.  The researchers make the case that in New York, Lincoln Center, the Broadway theater district, and other areas are cultural hot spots.  In Chicago, we suppose the Loop central theater district, the Lake Street club scene, and the Rush/Division area would qualify as cultural hot spots (one of the data points in the research is photos taken at events—the more photos the more likely a spot is to be deemed a hot spot). 

At CMC, we’re not quite sure what to make of this kind of research.  On the one hand, we in the music community need to develop “facts on the ground” that support our now well documented assertion that music is a serious economic player in Chicago.  Identifying and mapping where that music is happening is a large part of that effort.  The sophisticated mapping techniques supporting this research are very important and can be a very effective tool as the music community makes its case to policy makers.  On the other hand, this kind of research seems to stumble into the same problems as other attempts to quantify cultural output have–it fosters “district”-like thinking about music and the arts, thereby encouraging planning techniques that don’t encourage city-wide, inclusive music friendly policies and practices that break down barriers to participation in the music community.

How can researchers best measure a broad, diverse community’s cultural ‘production’?  And can you measure what areas in a metropolitan fabric contribute to developing creativity and building a “creative class”?  This research starts to answer these questions.  CMC hopes more research continues, and shines a brighter light on the “value” of Chicago music to the city at large.

A quick look at what Seattle is doing

March 21, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Continuing our ongoing snapshot look at what other city governments are doing to support their music communities, we now look to Seattle.  Seattle’s been busy on the music front lately.  Primarily through the office of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the city has used political action and clear, sustained policy direction to make music a force for positive economic and cultural development.  This work has culminated in the “Seattle City of Music” marketing campaign, with Mayor Nickels proclaiming, “Music is a part of Seattle’s identity; it gives our city soul. We don’t just make or listen to music; we live it.”  

Others have noticed this work:  Mayor Nickels was awarded the 2009 Award for Local Arts Leadership jointly by the United States Conference of Mayors’ and Americans for the Arts.

Some of these initiatives don’t make sense for Chicago, others we’d be wise to emulate (and in some areas Chicago’s kicking-butt where Seattle isn’t doing much). But as hope we’re making clear w/these posts, as the independent advocate for Chicago’s music community, CMC is working to see what other music cities are doing, learn from them, develop our own innovative strategies, and thereby improve Chicago.  

And yes, we do realize Austin is the temporary center of the music universe right now with SXSW.  Like we said, Chicago’s music community can learn from others…

Moving the conversation forward on the promoter ordinance

March 18, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

In our last post publishing the City’s latest version of the promoter ordinance, we also put up CMC’s statement on that version of the ordinance (all the good stuff on the ordinance is collected at our dedicated promoter ordinance page).  Our statement is in-depth because we take this ordinance very seriously and we take the City’s power to legislate the music community’s conduct very seriously.  But we at CMC believe that our independent advocacy on behalf of Chicago’s music community involves not just pointing out when and why the City isn’t acting in the community’s best interests, but also how we think we as a city can do better.  

So we suggest in our statement a detailed proposal that if acted on will allow the music community to continue to thrive, add no new regulatory burdens (or significant costs) for working Chicago music community members, and ensure greater accountability and transparency of promoter’s conduct in Chicago: no new license, more sunshine on the promoter community, and, we think, a win-win.

Here’s the basic outline of our proposal:

  • With the music community, develop “self-help measures” that the community can implement on its own.  The music community has not been given a chance to fix what the City finds so concerning about music promotion in Chicago.  Many in the music community are not even aware of what specific conduct the City is attempting to address with this proposed ordinance. Let’s engage industry leaders—including small promoters—to identify best practices.
  • Amend the PPA/Special Events code (which regulates music venues) so that the venue owner (PPA licensee) would be required to clearly and unequivocally control—and be responsible for—all that happens at the venue, including conduct of the promoter and insurance coverage of promoter conduct. 
  • Commission an independent survey of the promoter industry to accurately determine who is in fact “in the business of promotion” and assess current industry practices, identify best practices, and make clear where public safety problems are occurring.  
  • Create a pilot City-managed registry for promoters that would require registered promoters to provide the City with their contact information and which events they will promote. 
  • Adjust the PPA code to require PPA licensees to only do business with registered promoters, rather than creating a new licensing class as this ordinance does.

A few things worth nothing here—CMC is under no illusion that this proposal is air-tight.  We want you to comment here with your thoughts.  And we will seek music community input beyond this blog. But for now, since no one is discussing alternatives to the ordinance and a new class of license for promoters, we feel it’s necessary to get the conversation moving away from a back-and forth on the particulars of promoter ordinance language, and towards a more expansive—and productive—discussion on what will work best for Chicago music and the general public alike.




CMC shares latest version of event promoter ordinance

March 3, 2009 by · Comments Off on CMC shares latest version of event promoter ordinance 

We at CMC posted on our dedicated event promoter ordinance page what we believe to be the current version of the City of Chicago’s proposed event promoter ordinance now before the City Council’s License and Consumer Protection Committee.  We also posted a summary of our concerns with that ordinance as it’s currently drafted.  

We know us posting this isn’t how things are usually done in Chicago, but as you are probably aware, this ordinance is generating a lot of discussion once again in the music community (it first was raised by the City in 2007).  CMC posted this in the interest of providing the music community and the general public with as much information as possible prior to the Chicago City Council taking the ordinance up for a vote.

From media sources, we understand that the ordinance is not yet scheduled for a vote by the City Council’s License and Consumer Protection Committee, and that this ordinance may be redrafted again prior to any vote (could be soon, could be a long way off).  So please take the ordinance with a grain of salt–it may change again before it’s voted on.  

We think there has been too little public discussion of this issue, so we are also posting a “frequently asked questions” document about the ordinance prepared by the City this past September (to the best of CMC’s knowledge the most current such document from the City), and the Chicago Independent Review Panel of Building Safety Enforcement Powers’ 2003 report that the City cites in this version of the ordinance.  If you make it all the way through the ordinance, towards the end of the doc you’ll see that the City has prepared some helpful detailing of the changes they’ve made to the ordinance since they first tabled it in 2007.  We think these docs help explain the City’s positions and also answer some commonly asked questions (like “will I be covered by the ordinance?”).

You can jump to CMC’s dedicated event promoter ordinance page here.

Stay tuned to this site for more information about this important issue.

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