A music scene results from complex interactions between musicians, audiences, venues, teachers, radio stations, record stores, studios, laws, codes, zoning, history and. . . and. . .

This ongoing google doc includes annotated information relevant to the RVA scene: city and state statistics, codes, ordinances, zoning and permits; local arts funding organizations; local relevant projects; relevant information on other scenes; relevant academic studies.

The following charts represent some of the recent findings coming out of the audibleRVA project.



Audiblerva Calendar Events by Genre: December 27, 2018-December 27, 2019. 1,819 distinct events. The sonic geography of African-American music making is disproportionately small in the digital archive, as compared to actual demographics. Hip-hop only accounts for 4% of events recorded in 2019, while Rock and Indie account for 36% and 11% respectively.



Events from AudibleRVA Calendar at heatmap, indicating that the overwhelming majority of events take place in only a hand-full of venues located in the center of the city. (October 1 2018-January 1 2020; approximately 3,000 distinct events). Blue shading = Black population density.



Facilities Per Capita. We have often heard musicians in Richmond evince envy of their colleagues living in “real music cities.” Which cities were these? Many compared Richmond unfavorably to the scenes in Austin, Nashville, Minneapolis, Denver, and Baltimore. But when controlling for overall population, Richmond looks better than many other American cities in terms of the availability of musical resources per resident. It has more music stores, music instruction studios, and recording studios per resident than almost all of the other cities musicians tend to list. The number of venues is harder to ascertain because the way they are licensed and registered varies greatly between cities. For instance, according to the U.S. Economic Census, Austin has only ten “concert halls.” But it has 235 bars, many of which function as venues. According to the city’s own 2015 Music Census, there were 124 active venues in the city that year. While Richmond has very few drinking establishments—a consequence of Virginia’s complex alcohol regulations, described above—it has around forty active venues.



Music Venues.  Blue dots=defunct venues; Red dots=active venues. Analysis of this dataset and the historical print archive of local event listings reveals that public venues—forced to operate as restaurants—go in and out of business quite rapidly. Only a few have survived longer than a decade, and those are overwhelmingly White-male-owned—the demographic with broadest access to business loans. This Figure represents a total of nearly 100 venues operating in the city since the early 1980s. Venue volatility is directly tied to Richmond’s byzantine assemblage of sound ordinances, zoning, alcohol laws and permits that disproportionately disadvantage African-American communities. The current scene as represented by the digital archive is overwhelmingly White, male, and hipster, in a city where White men are, at most, 20% of the population. Blue shading = Black population density.



Musical Infrastructure. The black dots represent recording studios, green represents music stores (including record stores), and red represents music schools and instructional studios. Music resources are distributed throughout the city in ways that correlate with socio-economic class, which correlates strongly with race. Most music resources are located in the Southern and Western areas of the city, associated with White flight and higher average income. Few facilities exist in majority Black neighborhoods and all of the instruction studios exist in majority White neighborhoods. Blue shading = Black population density.


Noise Complaint Patterns Before and After Passage of Restrictive Noise. Note the difference between the “scatter plot” pattern of noise complaints registered prior to the passage of the restrictive ordinance



Noise Complaints 2011-2019.


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