Austin musician calls for help despite positive report on industry

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas Music Economic Impact Study shows that the music industry in the Lone Star State generated 2,000 new jobs and an additional $1.1 billion dollars in 2018. Still, some local musicians believe there could be a lot of improvement in how that money trickles down.

“They know the music is there, but it’s easy to take the music for granted,” said Brannen Temple, a professional Austin musician. Temple, who has been playing drums professionally for three decades, has seen a change in Austin. 

“People who have been professional musicians are vying for the same jobs, the same income line as people who may have just started.”

For a city that calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World, it sure isn’t paying those live musicians much. 

“They are making like $1,100 to $20,000 a year. So, you do the math,” Temple said.  

“That’s just how our economy has gone here,” said Bob Woody, who owns multiple music venues in downtown Austin. He says he does what he can to pay his acts what they’re worth. 

“We are very careful and very in tune with working with them and making it happen for them,” Woody said. 

But with the influx of highly paid professionals living in Austin, he understands why it can be tough for those low-earning creative minds. 

“You may have to live in Round Rock to affordably live but play music in Austin. I don’t like that, but that’s just how it is,” Woody said. 

In the end, Temple isn’t asking for higher pay, just a conversation to get the ball rolling to show these dedicated professionals respect. 

“If a city or region is noted for its live music, and if there’s respect there, then potentially the respect could be there financially, as well,” Temple said. 

Temple says as people stream into Austin, a lot of musicians are slowly leaving. In the past, he’s called on musicians in town to strike. He hopes something changes soon so live music remains a pillar of the city.

Thoughts from the Governor

Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled the study on Thursday, showing support for the Texas Music Office which helps generate the economic output for the industry.

“The music industry is a key driver in economic growth in Texas even beyond the $9.6 billion in economic activity in 2018,” Governor Abbott said. “Music is a big part of ‘Brand Texas’ and serves as a competitive advantage — drawing  visitors from across the globe, acting as a magnet to attract and retain a talented workforce across industries, and supporting continuing buisiness recruitment and expansion efforts.”

Facts from the press release:

  • In 2018, the music industry in Texas, including music businesses and music education, directly accounted for nearly 97,000 permanent jobs, with $4.1 billion in annual earnings, and just over $9.6 billion in annual economic activity.

  • This economic output for 2018 is up from almost 95,000 jobs and about $8.5 billion in annual activity during 2017.
  • The ripple effects associated with the direct injection related to music businesses and music education bring the total impact (including the direct effects) to more than 209,000 permanent jobs, $6.5 billion in earnings and $23.4 billion in annual economic activity in 2018 in Texas.
  • The State of Texas also realized approximately $390 million in tax revenue from these impacts.

Help from the City

The City of Austin is working on a few programs to help out clubs and bands. 

Austin is currently going through surveys from their Amplified Sound Impact. Organizers plan to turn over recommendations to City Council in April. 

We also asked about the Music Venue Assistance Program. 

The City says two venues have active loans. But they aren’t taking new applications until they see responses to the Sound Impact survey. 

The city gives microloans to clubs that apply. Owners can use the money to upgrade their business, to keep sound inside and not have it bleed out to neighbors. 

The city also extended live music hours in the Red River district. The program started two years ago, to see if it could help business, and not have a negative impact on neighbors. 

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