A- A+

How Does DSM Become a Music City?

DSM Music City

December 7, 2021

What do famous American music cities such as Nashville, Austin or New Orleans have in common? Beyond a critical mass of aspiring career musicians, each of these cities also have systems in place to support the interconnected web that make up a music ecosystem. This means: music venues can find quality audio engineers who may have access to local colleges or adult education courses in live sound, local musicians who want to release an album can shop around to local record labels, and music entrepreneurs can access affordable workspace and resources to grow their companies.

While Greater Des Moines (DSM) may not have the same amount of aspiring musicians as places like Austin or Nashville, there is a nascent music economy emerging in the region: major bands can be seen sporting guitars made in the Drake neighborhood, summer music festivals such as Hinterland and 80/35 have re-emerged and continue to grow after the pandemic, and more and more touring musicians and professionals have chosen to call Des Moines home while not on the road.

Des Moines Music Task Force

The Des Moines Music Task Force was created for the purpose of advancing Des Moines’ efforts to be a music city and to support the musicians, industry workers, and fans who make our music ecosystem work. The Task Force is a collaborative effort led by the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC) and including representation from Bravo Greater Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Public Radio, Hoyt Sherman Place, and Capital Crossroads. The partnership is made possible through the Strategic Collaboration Grant Program from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines with additional support from the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

The Task Force is working with Sound Diplomacy, the leading international expert in Music Cities, to develop a strategy to help grow and support our community. In order to come up with the most effective strategy for the Greater Des Moines region, the Task Force needs your help! Here’s how you can participate:

Step 1: Take our survey for fans, musicians + industry workers

We need to hear from you — what are the strengths and weaknesses of our music scene? What barriers to entry do you run into in attending live music in DSM? How can we best support those in the industry who are recovering from the shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic? Your answers will help form the basis of our strategy.

Step 2: Check out the Des Moines Music Map (and add yourself if you are not represented)


The Task Force has created a map of the music industry in DSM. If you are looking for a recording studio, music lessons, music publishing and more, look no further. If you are a music business, fill out this form if you are not represented on the map.

All input is due by Monday, Dec. 31. Next year, the Task Force will work with Sound Diplomacy to determine the next steps we can take to support Des Moines as a Music City.

The music industry was the first industry to close and one of the last to reopen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond taking the survey, you can also support the local scene by attending a show, purchasing merchandise and discovering new local talent in our Des Moines music ecosystem.

For more information about the Des Moines Music Task Force, email mickey@desmoinesmc.com.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 13% below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.

Mickey Davis

Mickey Davis is the executive director of the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition.A musician and organizer, he served as the founding program director at the Des Moines Social Club and most recently worked at The Music District in Fort Collins, Colorado before returning to Des Moines in 2021.