The International Music Council (IMC) was founded in 1949, upon the request of the Director General of UNESCO, as a non-governmental advisory body to the agency on musical matters. Today it is comprised of National Music Councils from over 60 nations on all continents, some 30 international music organisations, as well as some 50 honorary members. Regional secretariats in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America promote regional projects, and international cooperation under the aegis of IMC.

In 1972 the 'European regional group of the IMC/UNESCO' was formed. It was renamed the European Music Council in 1992 and the secretariat was based in Aarau, Switzerland.

Since 1 January 2000 the Secretariat has been located in Bonn, Germany and has been registered under German law as a non-profit organisation since March 2003.