Saturday,  October 19, 2019  9:01 pm

Brand USA takes centre stage at Canadian Music Week

Brand USA takes centre stage at Canadian Music Week
(Clockwise from top left) Leah Ross, executive director, Birthplace of Country Music & Scythian; (of Air Canada) Simona Cercel, manager - tourism & sales development and Kathryn Mollenhauer, manager, business development meetings and events; musician Kelley Hunt entertains CMW delegates; Colin Skerritt, regional director – Canada, Brand USA.
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

Like food, wine and fine art, the music of a city or geographic region can be an enticement for travellers to visit a new location.

Taking that logic to the travel trade, Brand USA made its annual stop at Canadian Music Week yesterday (May 9). The 2019 edition of the annual music industry networking event also welcomed travel representatives from Air Canada, Visit California, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Virginia Tourism, promoting their musical ties to travel – from historic links to modern-day music festivals like Coachella - alongside music organizations such as the Birthplace of Country Music and Folk Alliance International.

Jackie Ennis, Brand USA’s senior director of global trade development, told PAX that the concept of promoting the U.S.' many destinations through song has grown in recent years; this year’s iteration of the campaign has taken two well-known songs from American pop music – two classic American songs – ‘Boogie Shoes’ and ‘What I Think About You’ – and reimagined them through different music genres.

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“Music has been one of our campaigns over the last few years – it’s the idea of seeing America through the lens music and that’s carried over into our consumer campaign for 2019,” Ennis said, adding that the campaign has been well-received among Canadian travellers. “It’s been a really effective way of reaching an international audience to talk about U.S. travel.

“It makes them think about going beyond New York and Las Vegas and maybe seeing Memphis or New Orleans. We want to stimulate awareness and conversations about the lesser known U.S. destinations.”

The campaign has also lead to the creation of self-drive music itineraries for travellers, Ennis said, just one of several promotional tools available to agents on Brand USA’s travel trade site.

Hearing the music in person

Here’s a round-up of musical offerings from the states taking part in Brand USA’s Canadian Music Week campaign:

Visit California

California has many musical reasons to visit, said Visit California’s Ally Carlson; in addition to the Golden State’s vital role in the development of genres ranging from surf rock to hip-hop, iconic venues such San Francisco’s Fillmore still continue to welcome crowds of music lovers. California is also home to some of the world’s biggest music festivals including Coachella, the Stage Coach country music festival and WinterWonderGrass, showcasing folk and bluegrass.

Georgia Department of Economic Development

With a hand in guiding the development of both country, rock and hip-hop, Georgia’s many music festivals – more than 75 each year – have something for fans of each genre and all points in between, said Lisa Love of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The state’s musical history is also chronicled at institutions such as the Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum and the Allman Brothers Band Museum.

Virginia Tourism

Home to pioneering acts in folk, country and rock, Virginia is home to many annual festivals including the American Music Festival in Virginia Beach; Bluegrass by the Bay in Gloucester; and the Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton. The state also houses one of two sites (the other being in Tennessee) for the Birthplace of Country Music, which preserves and chronicles the development of the genre with interactive displays for visitors, including instruments and recording booths.

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