Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh is quick to say that he’s not one to riff out melodies on the six-string or sing a sweet note. “I can’t play guitar so that you’ll pay $20 to see me play,” said Oh. “But I will pay $20 or more to hear somebody else play.”
Yet Oh is the force behind the Music Industry Task Force, originally formed in 2017, that issued its first conclusive report on Thursday at City Hall.
The task force, made up of 13 producers, lawyers, artists, and booking agents, was asked to study how Philadelphia could be more beneficial to musicians, in an effort to drive and heighten the creative economy. “Our music experts came up with what they wanted,” says Oh. “My job was only to tell them what is realistic and doable, what we can do legislatively.”
Oh announced the nine conclusions on Thursday:
Establish a centralized, permanent entity to continue the mission and work of the Music Industry Task Force. Oh compared this to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.
Market Philadelphia as a “music mecca.”
Promote Philadelphia music in local transportation hubs.
Develop an awareness campaign for fair compensation of working musicians.
Establish performing-arts priority loading and unloading zones, so musicians aren’t given tickets if they’re unloading gear outside of venues.
Identify sources of funding to grow the music economy.
Create hubs for music and concert promotion material distribution.
Encourage music performance venues to cater to all ages.
Use the city’s zoning and development policies to benefit the music industry.
Oh spoke about his admiration for the task force’s team, including vocalist Carol Riddick and producer David Ivory, who is the chairperson of the task force. “You wouldn’t know it to look at him because he seems like a rocker, but Ivory produced the Roots and Erykah Badu.”
From here, Oh intends to seek resolutions from Council based on these recommendations. “We’ll take them through bills and tax incentives — just like the film program — and see if we can make it happen.”