Next week, musicians and city officials from around the state will gather in Fort Worth for the first Texas Sounds and Cities music conference. It’s the latest in a string of unique initiatives to promote Fort Worth’s music scene, spurred by Visit Fort Worth. Here are a couple others:
- Hear Fort Worth is offering travel grants up to $500 to help artists get out on the road and tour.
- Niles City Sound, the studio where Leon Bridges recording his breakthrough album, “Coming Home,” will record four emerging artists, chosen through open call, at its studios.
- Musicians are being reimbursed for entry fees to South by Southwest
We’ll talk about these initiatives, and a lot more, at State of the Arts: Fort Worth next Friday, April 26 at the Kimbell Art Museum. Our guests will be Lou Charle$, hip-hop artist; Rachel Gollay, singer-songwriter; Alec Jhangiani, founder/principal, Fortress Presents and Amy Miller, program director, KXT, 91.7
To set the stage, I spoke with Tom Martens, creative director at Visit Fort Worth, about why the tourism bureau is tuning in to the city’s sounds.
Why is Visit Fort Worth focusing on music as a way to draw people into the city?
A lot of people found out about Fort Worth through Leon Bridges, so we want to continue that with other musicians.
Leon Bridges, who is from Fort Worth, and had a tremendous success with an album, “Coming Home,” that was produced in Fort Worth.
How has that manifested?
But also, we had people from South By Southwest reach out to us after his first year performing, and ask, is there anyone else that’s a secret that we should know about.
And I think from a local musician stand point, it feels like if he can make it, we can make it. So it doesn’t seem like a brass ring that’s out of reach to a lot people now.
Music in Fort worth goes far beyond Leon Bridges.
But you also see these waves of interest. Leon Bridges seems to be the latest one. And of course, Abraham Alexander, who you guys are playing here [on KXT 91.7] He’s doing great things, he’s in London right now, working on the album. So we just think there’s a future here.
You’re creating many initiatives to help musicians and promote music in the city. You are paying grants to musicians to help them defray the costs of touring.
But also from a Visit Fort Worth perspective, it’s cities where we are attracting visitors from.
How does that benefit Fort Worth?
You’ve also reimbursed musicians for their fees associated with going to South By Southwest.
We do a musician of the month every month. And they get a photo shoot for a new press kit, and then they also get social shout outs, and we use some of their music in our monthly Things To Do video which is things to do around the city.
How will you know when you’ve succeeded?
I don’t know that we’ll ever know true success to put a cap on it. But at the same time, I feel we’re constantly trying to think of things to continue the program and make it better.