The square roots equation of Philly music tourism

On Monday, the Philadelphia Music Alliance held its Walk of Fame unveilings on Broad Street in the afternoon and its star-studded nighttime gala at the Fillmore in the evening, its first big dress-up party in 20-plusyears.

Hometown inductees The Roots, The Trammps, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, original Annie star Andrea McArdle and WOGL’s Harvey Holiday picked up their plaques (as for the other honoreers,Billie Holiday is deceased, and hair metal locals Cinderella weren’t there).

Star presenters included Jimmy Fallon, Jerry Blavat, D’Angelo and Dionne Warwick. Illustrious music biz names like Friday Morning Quarterback publisher Kal Rudman and Philadelphia International Records’ Kenny Gamble were amongst the 360 invited guests and its sold-out party. “This is a good night,” said PMA Chairman Alan Rubens. “We’re proud of the new stars on Philly’s Walk of Fame,” he said, thinking of supernovas, literal and figurative.

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Now, that the dust (or glitter) has settled, one question remains: with Philly being a longtime mecca of music of every stripe, what does the Walk of Fame mean to its visitors, and how does the Philadelphia Music Alliance interact with Visit Philly, the city’s tourism marketing agency?

Rubens was chill when asked about getting love from Philly’s tourism chiefs. “Ithas not been as forthcoming in the past as we would have liked, a shame because we’re responsible for the Walk of Fame and setting everything up with the Avenue of the Arts,” he said.”We need to make our own statement first though.”

In regard to Visit Philly’s marketing outlook, prsident Meryl Levitzemailed to say, “Philadelphia Music Alliance and The Walk of Fame have always been part of Philadelphia’s rich music legacy and a topic of interest to our visitors and locals.”

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Both Rubens and PMA Vice Chairman, Mia Tinari, reminded us that the PMA hasn’t exactly been dynamically active until the last 12 months. “We’ve been low key up until this last year,” says Rubens.

“The PMA fell dormant for a few years; but, with new leadership and a new board, we’ve created a greater platform to honor our music legends,” says Tinari who joined up with Rubens in 2014. Rubens saidgetting Visit Philly’s attention was one of the big reasons for the nighttime gala in the first place and what sparked interest in having Visit Philly help PMA with marketing – some in 2015, hopefully more in the future.

Visit Philly’s director of communications Donna Schorr saidpromoting this city’s music scene ranks high on its list, while VP entertainment marketer Sarah Janiszewski says that focusing on The Roots made the job easier.

“I don’t think we’re doing more or less than we did in the past, as we’ve been working with the PMA for several years,” says Janiszewski, pointing out strong ties to Gamble & Huff. “We just happen to have a strong relationship with The Roots.” That connection with a marquee name makes pushing any event – Walk of Fame or otherwise – just that much stronger.

“Many people overlooked the Walk of Fame previously, but now, with Monday night’s Gala, and earning recognition and appreciation for the work the Philadelphia Music Alliance is doing, Philadelphia’s musical legacy will continue to be in the limelight,” predicts Tinari. “It stands as a public museum, a yellow brick road of sorts, displaying our musical greats.”