Turn It Up: Establishing Huntsville as a new music destination

single-meta-cal July 12, 2022

It’s an exciting time for music in Huntsville.

Music tourism is already a large draw for the City, and the economic impact it generates will continue to grow significantly. The highly anticipated opening of The Orion Amphitheater, combined with the caliber of talent being booked at Mars Music Hall, the Von Braun Center and other local venues, represent steps toward becoming a premier music destination.

Music is a primary pillar of Mayor Tommy Battle’s workforce development strategy. It also represents his commitment to quality of life and desire to provide more inclusive, cultural and creative offerings for current and future residents. Cultivating a successful music ecosystem plays a significant role in Huntsville’s long-term strategy for smart growth.

In other words, Huntsville is taking music seriously.


Amplify the ecosystem

A saxophonist plays outside the Redstone Federal Credit Union. He's wearing a purple shirt and blue pants.

The City of Huntsville has a unique, diverse music scene that significantly contributes to our local economy and employs people throughout the region.

Music ecosystems are the conditions that make it possible for music to thrive within a community, and we are the first city in America to embark on a comprehensive, data-driven journey to do just that. This visionary understanding of music’s role in supporting a vibrant economy, sustaining a healthy community and building a well-rounded city has led to our plan being called “the most innovative music strategy in the United States.”

My role as Huntsville Music Officer was created to serve as the primary advocate for our music scene, help oversee music-related strategic planning initiatives and economic opportunities, and ensure our music ecosystem reaches its full potential.

The foundations for a successful music ecosystem are already in place here – we have a unique, diverse, vibrant, awesome and inviting music scene that significantly contributes to our local economy and employs people throughout the region. We also have world-class venues and a supportive community packed full of phenomenal local musicians and music fans.

Now it’s time to put more building blocks in place to help set Huntsville’s music identity apart from other music cities and grow our creative economy.

Goals and mission

Our goal is to cultivate Huntsville’s music scene, so we’re recognized on an international scale with other U.S. music hubs. We don’t want to be Austin, Nashville, Chicago or Memphis, but we do want to be in the same conversations. We want tourists and large groups to know not only is NASA here, but we also offer a world-class music scene unlike anywhere else.

Music education is another piece of our ecosystem, and it’s important to identify and develop engaging music programs that work with all age groups. We need enhanced programs that develop better performers and train those who work behind the scenes.

We need more entertainment districts and music-friendly policies that not only create jobs, but also opportunities for those in the music sector to earn more. We also need a closer look at our special events permit process and sound ordinance, both of which are tools that can facilitate events that help our music community flourish.

There are a lot of good people in both the music industry as well as other economic sectors who may want to be part of what Huntsville has to offer. Building excitement around all aspects of our music culture will make them want to see what we’re about.

It’s an exciting time for music in Huntsville, and I look forward to working with our community to help make our music scene as amazing as possible.

Matt Mandrella is the City of Huntsville Music Officer. Give him a shout at Matt.Mandrella@HuntsvilleAL.gov or follow the Music Office Facebook page for updates.