The Texas Music Office designated Frisco as a Music Friendly Community in March, a certification recognizing the city’s commitment to its music scene.
“[There are] so many places that are doing live entertainment [in Frisco], but unless you’re really looking for that, you may or may not know it exists,” Visit Frisco Executive Director Marla Roe said.
Music events getting more recognition will not push the city’s sports involvement to the side, City Council Member Tammy Meinershagen said. Instead, she said she expects the two will allow Frisco’s tourism base to evolve as the city grows.
Data collected by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics analytics company hired to track economic impact for Visit Frisco, shows when visitors come to Frisco, they spend a majority of their money on dining, lodging and entertainment.
As more people hear about the musical ecosystem found in Frisco, more businesses could follow and bring tourists with them, said Tony Felker, Frisco Chamber of Commerce president.
“Understand and think about how that’s impacted [people’s] business, whether it’s just new tourism groups coming into town, whether it’s extending a visit to Frisco from four hours to an overnight [stay, or] taking it from an overnight [stay] to a two-night or a three-night stay now,” Felker said.
Extending those stays could mean an increase in the over $141 million spent on Frisco lodging expenses in 2021, according to Tourism Economics data.
“When that sort of change happens, how does that impact your individual business?” Felker said.
Longer hotel stays lead to guests spending more at surrounding businesses, such as car rental companies, retail stores and dry cleaning shops, Felker said.
Music events on par with sporting events like the May KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and 2026 World Cup are already being seen in Frisco, which could also lead to more music opportunities, said Lisa Bethea, director of destination services at Visit Frisco.
“I’d like to see this become the beginning of the renaissance era for Frisco,” Meinershagen said.
Evolving tourism base
Frisco has been called “Sports City USA” by city officials in acknowledgment of the number of sports-related businesses and events.
More music events in the city could do more than just bring in tourists, Roe said. It could convince Frisco residents to stay instead of traveling outside the city for entertainment.
“One of the Buxton studies that [Visit Frisco commissioned] did show one of the reasons residents and visitors leave Frisco is for live entertainment,” Roe said.
Buxton, a data analytics company, conducted the study in 2019 for officials to learn what people wanted in the city by tracking their comings and goings, Roe said.
Included in the results were businesses that, at the time, were rare inside Frisco’s city limits.
“The things that rose to the top were breweries and live entertainment,” Roe said.
After the 2019 study, Frisco updated city ordinances to allow breweries and wineries. For live entertainment, the American Country Music Awards held at the Ford Center on May 11 proved Frisco’s dedication to its music community, Roe said.
“ACM is the cherry on the ice cream top [for the city],” Roe said.
Frisco being chosen to host the awards show is a marker of its past successes with large-scale entertainment events, Academy of Country Music CEO Damon Whiteside said.
“The Academy of Country Music held the 50th ACM Awards in 2015 in North Texas at AT&T Stadium,” Whiteside said in an email. “Not only was it a huge success, ... but we saw, firsthand, how passionate Texas country music fans are.”
Whiteside said hosting the awards in Frisco is an example of how music can possibly evolve the overall tourism industry.
“Ford Center is a football-sized arena without a bad seat in the house, and the great Star facility and surrounding district has been a dream canvas to build our ACM Awards week bigger and better than ever,” Whiteside said.
Becoming music friendly
Frisco was announced as the state’s 42nd Music Friendly Community on March 20 by the Texas Music Office, a branch in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism.
Gov. Greg Abbott stated Frisco had “completed the multistep certification process and earned the designation” in a March 28 news release.
“Music Friendly Texas Communities certified by the Texas Music Office are serious about attracting and developing the local music industry to boost local job creation and economic growth,” Abbott said in the news release.
One of the seven steps to becoming a Music Friendly Community is proving there are music-related nonprofits partnering with the community, according to the Texas Music Office website. In Frisco, nonprofits such as Melody of Hope are doing just that.
“It’s more than just a certificate,” said Chip Adams, the Texas Music Office’s community relations and outreach specialist, at an April 4 Frisco City Council meeting commemorating the music-friendly designation.
Cities recognized as Music Friendly Communities are connected through a statewide network, Adams said.
“This designation is the next stage of the music and the performing arts coming in and evolving in Frisco,” Felker said.
Setting the stage
Frisco’s music scene did not appear in the city overnight, Felker said. “This is the result of work that has been put in for years now, and it’ll continue to grow,” Felker said.
Multiple music organizations and businesses have made their home in Frisco for years, especially in the historic Rail District area, Nack Theatre owner Donny Churchman said.
“My focus is almost solely on the downtown, and to me, that’s the heartbeat of our city,” Churchman said. “[The music designation] is just going to help us take that to another level.”
Melody of Hope has been organizing Music on Main since 2019 with a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. During the monthly all-day event, local musicians are stationed at intersections throughout downtown Frisco, coordinating shifts to ensure music is almost constantly playing.
Music on Main is just one example of a thriving downtown Frisco music scene, Churchman said.
“The live music in downtown is something that’s just getting started in my opinion,” Churchman said. “We want to be a destination for artists to come play and with the future goals of doing things like music festivals and things like that in the Rail District.”
Spending for travelers’ food and beverages, two things that would also likely see an increase due to their relation to music festivals and concerts, in 2021 was $431 million, according to Tourism Economics.
“We see music enhancing a lot of the events that we already have,” Bethea said. “We know, like [Roe] mentioned from the [Buxton] study, that it’s something that people are asking for.”
Places such as the Rail Yard in downtown Frisco, which features live music and food trucks, is one example of music drawing in larger crowds to other Frisco businesses, Roe said.
“The businesses have welcomed local musicians into their spaces, and it has increased the amount of business happening,” Meinershagen said.
As Frisco’s identity expands, both sports and music entertainment could combine and make an even greater ripple effect for local businesses, Meinershagen said.
“We’ve done a phenomenal job building up Sports City USA,” Meinershagen said. “Now we can move toward being more than that, a more well-rounded city—potentially ‘Music City USA.’”