Majority of Austin live music venues in danger of closing by Halloween, survey finds

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Austin live music bar

Sign at a downtown Austin bar (Kaitlyn Karmout/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN/Austin Business Journal) — By October 31, most live music venues, restaurants and bars in Austin may be gone.

That startling forecast about the dire financial picture facing the live music industry was produced by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs on behalf of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The survey, which polled 1,050 participants, found that 62% of live music venues and 55% of restaurant bars in the Austin area say they can endure for the next four months (or less) under current conditions.

(Courtesy of the Austin Chamber of Commerce)

Additionally, only 19% of live music venues and 40% of restaurants/bars said they were able to pay the entirety of their June rent.

The live music industry also laid off the most full-time employees (83%). Restaurant and bar lay offs trailed just behind at 70%.

Losing that many music venues, in a city that calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World, would have huge ramifications — for the thousands of residents who work or perform in those venues, of course, but also for real estate and tourism.

So far, most Austin music venues seem have held on, others have already been dealt a final blow.

Just a month ago, Barracuda Austin announced its permanent closure, along with Red River area venues like Plush and Scratchouse.

“Every place like Barracuda is going to be gone in the next six months. That’s what we’re looking at here,” said Stephen Sternschein, Managing Partner at Heard Presents, which owns Empire Control Room and Garage and the Parish.

Nakia Reynoso, a musician and president of local musician advocacy nonprofit Austin Texas Musicians, lamented the state of the “Live Music Capital of the World,” saying, “Every time a music venue closes in Austin, we lose a portion of our culture.”

One survey respondent said, “I think there’s a real risk of losing 90% of independent music venues in the next few months.”

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