It's what encourages a drive visitor to stay the night and not head back home after whatever they came for (assuming it wasn't a nighttime experience). And yet, the magnet of music, theatre and comedy is missing in so many communities. In our work with destinations, we often survey community stakeholders as to what they think would move the needle for both enhanced livability and tourism growth. In second and third-tier cities, the answer is almost always "something to do when the sun goes down."
But how? How does a Destination Marketing Organization encourage business owners to take a chance and make an investment that may not pay off? And, as a DMO pro once said to me, "we don't have a relationship with those entrepreneurs because they're coming to work as we're heading home."
My smart ass answer, of course, was that he should spend at least one day a week working a 2 to 10pm shift in order to better understand (and build a relationship with the purveyors of) the nighttime economy.
And, the City of Vancouver is about to launch a one-year pilot program to hire a Music Advocate to attempt to mitigate the obstacles local performers face so that the music can flow and produce an even greater dent in the economy than its current $690 million, supporting 8,000 jobs in the city.
Just saying you support local music doesn't get the job done. Somebody has to own it.
Chattanooga and Vancouver understand that fact.
Here's hoping many more cities see the light.