It started with a tweet. “Congrats on the job. You should check out Denton soon.”
“How about next week?” came the quick response.
Wendy Haun, Digital Marketing Coordinator on the Denton CVB team, was ecstatic. “He says he’d like to visit Denton next week!” she shouted. The rest of us stopped in the middle of whatever project had our attention and rushed to Wendy’s office to peer at her screen. Sure enough, he was coming to town. High-fives and hoorahs all around, everyone began talking at once. We would build a #dentoning experience Brendon Anthony would remember far into his new professional life as Director of the Texas Music Office.
Since early this year, we’ve seen various media stories about Governor Abbott’s appointing a new guy to run the music office, a division within the his Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Then on October 8, The Dallas Morning News reporter Tom Benning published a story about Anthony’s work since he accepted the post in February.
What caught our eye in Benning’s piece is Anthony’s vision focus to, “build partnerships between music industry officials and government officials across the state.”
Our local leadership is astute regarding Denton’s music scene. Economic development strategies incorporate Denton’s creative character, placing it among the top of our quality of life assets. That’s been the case for more than 70 years, since UNT (then Texas State Teachers College) made music a prominent feature in our artistic realm creating and establishing the country’s inaugural university jazz studies program.
Denton embraces music’s role as an economic driver, far more vital than just a cool diversion our city offers. We see music’s impact as a tourism attraction, an educational allure, an entertainment anchor, and a thriving business pumping dollars into the local economy while drawing international attention at the same time.
Denton recognized long ago the connection between music and economy. What’s been lacking is the reciprocal link, industry officials’ interest in our vibrant creative economy, plugged-in leadership and importance within the Texas music industry narrative.
So, on a whim, we tweeted. He tweeted back. A virtual conversation 140-characters-at-a-time gave way to emails and a lot of fast footwork as CVB staff called on leaders and partners who, on incredibly short notice, rearranged schedules to accommodate the Austin-based VIP. Within 48 hours, CVB staff presented a rich #dentoning itinerary for October 29th that introduced Anthony to key movers and shakers across Denton’s original, independent music scene.
Starting his #dentoning day over coffee with the CVB team and Mayor Chris Watts, Anthony shared his quest. In his view, Denton is just one among many Texas cities that for whatever reason have never quite made it into the big-picture music story the state office touts to the world. He plans to broaden that narrative to include all the sounds, genres, cultures and talents that reflect a complete and genuine Texas.
We learned right away that the youngish, musician-turned businessman is no stranger to Denton. He played several venues here during his years fiddling in Texas country music star Pat Green’s band. He played the North Texas Fair during those days, too. But that was nearly two decades ago. Denton has changed a lot since then. And so has the filter through which Brendon Anthony thinks about music.
He spent time with UNT President Neal Smatresk, toured the Murchison Performing Arts Center and sat in on a One O’clock Lab Band practice. He met with music-focused entrepreneurs, developers and business-owners, even getting a peek at some projects yet to come. He visited music venues, met some of Denton’s top talent, saw first-hand how art forms and genres cross and merge. Community leaders throughout the day added credence to all he’d heard from Mayor Watts: ours is a cohesive, intentional economy of which music and creativity is a cornerstone.
Manager Jake Laughlin led Anthony on a hard-hat tour of the Discover Denton Welcome Center and impressed him with DentonRadio.com. He immediately recognized the online station as evidence of cooperation between Denton’s music industry and “the establishment,” a too-often immitigable gap with which many music cities grapple. DentonRadio.com is a tool unlike any other city in his (or our) experience possesses in their marketing arsenal, and its evolution further demonstrated the music industry’s starring position in our marketing efforts.
Brendon Anthony’s 12-hour-day was power-packed. “There is no reason why Denton should not be a creative center of Texas,” he remarked, a maroon #dentoning tee pulled on over his dress shirt and tie.
Mission accomplished. He gets us.
“Thanks for a great day #dentoning,” he tweeted the next day. “I look forward to my next visit.”
“See you soon @Brendon_Anthony.”