There’s a strong sense that Oklahomais poised to erupt into America’s next great music scene. Those of us in the scene are eager to see how we will fit into the new local music economy as it grows from a DIY community to something more structured and influential. Last night, Scott Booker and Matt Guillory invited music professionals, Oklahoma culture champions, and city officials together to reveal a new initiative that will provide us with long-term clarity, purpose, and a great chance to work together to create infrastructure in Oklahoma to take bands from new projects to major acts.
Exchange Music covered a lot of ground last night, and we have a lot of questions about next steps, but here are OkSessions’ top 7 takeaways on what Exchange Music is and what it will become:
1. Exchange Music is “The Room Where it Happens”
“We didn’t expect this many people” Guillory said looking into the crowd at Exchange Music’s new 2,400 SF office space on 13th and Broadway. Like a well-promoted concert, the room was standing room only with media professionals, record labels, city and state officials, venue owners, and artists. The unveiling of Exchange Music was a veritable who’s who of the local music industry and Oklahoma City’s business community.
There was a strong sense of curiosity as Guillory and Booker shared their vision, and the crowd remained engaged as the founders discussed the most critical focuses for Oklahoma’s music economy. Mayor David Holt gave an address expressing the city’s desire to intentionally establish itself as a music city.
Over the next 6 months, we (OkSessions) feel Exchange Music’s office space will be the setting for many important music-industry discussions, as well as a place where musicians’ careers are built. This may be the new “Room Where it Happens”
Due to space limitations, the make-up of this first group was focused on the business side of the industry more than the performers. Also, EXM will be doing another similar roundtable gathering for performers. They will also be doing a roundtable event in Tulsa for the eastern side of the state.
2. Exchange Music is “ACM Part II”
“You could think of Exchange Music as ACM part two,” Booker said. ACM@UCO is a school where students learn music performance, production, and business. More than a school, it’s a biosphere where those three disciplines can mix and prepare students for the larger “real world” music ecosystem. Exchange Music seeks to grow that ecosystem in the Oklahoma business climate.
This bodes well. In less than 10 years, ACM has produced a small legion of music professionals who now staff OKC’s venues, bands, and production companies. Booker illustrated this by having a show of hands for anyone in the audience who had attended or worked at ACM, to which nearly half of the diverse crowd responded. ACM’s facilities, recording studios, and rehearsal/performance spaces will be strong amenities to offer bands that work with Exchange Music.
3. Exchange Music is not a ’12-point plan’… it’s a Dynamic, Collaborative Discussion
Oklahoma has a strong pool of talent, but the state has a lot of work to do in building industry and infrastructure. Exchange Music seems aware of the need for flexibility and open discussion to determine how music businesses and professionals will find their niche in what must be a highly collaborative industry.
The presentation floated between an open forum and a loosely-followed script from Guillory and Booker. The conversation seemed to center on 3 concepts:
- The need to provide sufficient local infrastructure to prevent local musicians from feeling the need to move to more robust music markets to find professional opportunities.
- The need to engaging a larger percentage of the local population in the music industry (aka building music culture in Oklahoma).
- The competitive advantage Oklahoma has in establishing itself as a touring hub for artists that are not based in Oklahoma.
In addition to these conceptual talking points, Exchange Music offered some more concrete ideas of what they would seek to accomplish near-term.
4. Business Development Services will be available to Music Industry Entrepreneurs at Exchange Music Headquarters
Exchange Music has partnered with OSBDC, who will hire a business development officer. The officer will have a statewide connection through theSBDCand will make OSBDC’s statewide resources easily accessible to people working in Oklahoma’s music industry. This officer will provide small business consulting services for artists and office out of Exchange Music’s office space.
Exchange Music and OSBDC are actively working together to fill this position; we will share the job post when it becomes available.
5. Exchange Music intends to have a Booking Agent operate out of its space
Booker expressed that there is a huge need for a dedicated booking agent locally. That is, someone who could lineup tours and opportunities for Oklahoma-based artists. This booking agent seemed high-priority in the discussion and would likely office out of Exchange Music’s office on 13th and Broadway.
6. Exchange Music will operate an Accelerator for Music Industry Entrepreneurs and/or serve as a ‘Chamber of Commerce’ for the Music Industry
Exchange Music’s space has a natural co-working layout, boasting a common area, conference room, kitchenette, and several small offices.
Guillory pointed out that bands (or individual musicians) are small businesses, and an incubator or accelerator program would be valuable in getting these projects established and profitable.
The concept is similar to Amplify, so we will keep you posted on how our efforts to bolster and connect the local music industry will complement Exchange Music.
Booker hinted at a Chamber of Commerce structure that sounds less hands-on than an accelerator/incubator, and it’s likely both structures could exist together.
The Greater Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce was also present at the meeting, and we are interested to see how Exchange Music’s membership offerings would differ from or complement membership with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
7. Exchange Music will Create Infrastructure for a “Music Embassy” to put OKC on the Map Internationally
Booker has been hinting at establishing a Music Embassy for some time; he specifically mentioned this idea and the relationships he has been building overseas to make it happen. With expressed interest from state officials in the UK, he seems to have laid the groundwork for exchange programs that could bring foreign acts to the US, and provide opportunities for US artists to build fanbases abroad.
OkSessions recommends being involved with Exchange Music!
We at OkSessions are excited to see what comes next for Exchange Music. We recommend music professional get involved in Exchange Music quickly. For now, the best way to do so is to join their email list, spread the word, and show up to their events.