The Albany metro ranks 14th nationally* as a center for musicians and the music industry, according to an analysis from an institute at the University of Toronto that includes Richard "Creative Class" Florida.
Albany's ranking is "better than expected." So, um, good for us.
We're not sure how much stock we'd put into the analysis, though. It was based on federal statistics on the concentration of musicians and music/recording industry businesses. We suspect it's a better indicator of the traditional music industry rather than the constantly evolving indie segment that makes up more and more of the music world. (Example: because of digital technology, a lot of musicians now record not in "professional" music studios, but you know, wherever they can.) Also: the study didn't measure "the vibrancy or impact or quality of artists to emerge from a regional scene." (We also don't draw confidence that further study will be based on data from... MySpace.)
But this part, from Richard Florida's write up of the study in Atlantic Cities, did ring mostly true:
But size is not everything, as Nashville's dominance and the performance of other smaller metros show. Smaller places can develop significant clusters of musicians and the music industry. The key here, as it is in so many other fields, is the clustering of talent, as talented musicians are drawn to and cluster around other talented musicians. Doing so, they generate a human capital externality of a musical kind -- competing against each other for new sounds and audiences, combining and recombining with each other into new bands -- a Darwinian process out of which successful acts rise to the top and achieve broad success.
We'd argue it doesn't necessarily have to be some sort of Darwinian competition, though. An example from here: the B3nson collective has supported and promoted each other while sharing talent among its many connected acts. And an event like Rest Fest -- which helps focus attention on what's going on here -- then grows out of all that interconnection.
That's probably true of other industries/scenes, too -- whether it's food or tech or whatever. The trick is to get those clusters started and growing.
*That ranking is from the "when small metros are included" list. The Albany metro doesn't rank in the table included there because it only includes metros with populations of 1 million or larger.
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