Image courtesy of CCI
Image courtesy of CCI

In January 2014, we introduced the work of Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) . That year, the staff of CCI, under the leadership of Margaret Hunt, began working on creating the state’s official music strategy, a three- to five-year plan to develop the music economy in Colorado. CCI is Colorado’s designated State Arts Agency—every state has one—and it’s housed within the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, an unusual spot to find an arts agency. With an action orientation, the music strategy has potential to directly add to music makers’ incomes, and to improve the climate for the music business in the state.

Ms. Hunt hosted a webinar to report the progress on the strategy, and was joined by two colleagues who have been working on the music strategy: Bryce Merrill (recently of Biennial of the Americas, the large hemisphere-wide art event held in Denver in 2015), and Jesse Elliott, perhaps better known as the frontman of the band These United States.

The strategy, supported by the group’s research, will be released in June 2016. Here is some of the data:

  • CCI estimates that there are over 16,000 music-related jobs in Colorado.
  • Music industry revenue in Colorado exceeds $1.8 billion annually.
  • These figures rank Colorado between Washington and Oregon in the west, both states with thriving music scenes.

The CCI sees their music work as having two components, economic development and quality of life enhancement.
Under economic development, the objectives are:

  • to retain successful artists and music businesses in Colorado,
  • to enhance the careers and professional development of creatives in the state,
  • to bring new money for music into the state, for example through cultural tourism, and
  • to export Colorado music, for example through support of music licensing.

A quality of life objective is to enhance the lives of Coloradans through music, which includes support of nonprofit and mission-driven arts organizations throughout the state.

CCI programs currently supporting artists

  • Showcase hosting: In our last blog post on CCI, we reported that CCI had hosted a Colorado Music Party at SXSW. They also host a “Colorado and Friends House” showcase at the annual Folk Alliance International conference in February.
  • Individual grants: CCI continues to fund Career Advancement Awards. Twice a year, CCI awards up to $2,500 to artists, musicians and other creative professionals. In 2015, 17 musicians received grants for tour support, classes, recording, web development and more.
  • Professional development and networking: The annual Creative Industries Summit will include music performances as well as music-focused workshops and panels.

Likewise, CCI and its music strategy will tie music into the agency’s ongoing Creative Districts program and its relationship with the Small Business Development Center.

New music-focused initiatives

  • Sustainable touring: CCI piloted DeTour in September, with the groups Flobots and 2MX2, taking the bands to all corners of the state over three weeks, staging traditional shows and hosting other events, like song-sharing, field recording, and workshops in non-traditional settings. The program will also benefit artists who do not do a DeTour, through CCI’s creation of a Colorado touring network, with press, venue and promoter contacts available to any artist touring Colorado.
  • Colorado Music Licensing project: Headed up by DeVotchKa percussionist Shawn King, the project aims to persuade Colorado businesses to license made-in-Colorado music for TV, web or advertising. In 2016, Shawn will reveal a process whereby Colorado composers and performers can submit license-ready music to prospective licensees.
Image courtesy of CCI
Image courtesy of CCI

When the Colorado Music Strategy is unveiled in June, it will be supported by a statewide advisory group (and potentially by regional working groups) to implement its actions. To get on the list to receive the plan, and provide comments, please contact Margaret Hunt

View the recent 1.5-hour long webinar.

View an eight-minute video about the DeTour pilot.