Music industry advocates ask lawmakers for COVID-19 relief

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been a quiet year without one of Austin’s best features — live music.

The pandemic shut down live music venues across the area and today many remain closed.

The Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy wants to change that. Tuesday, they will meet with state lawmakers for a virtual music advocacy day.

They’re seeking pandemic relief and asking lawmakers to provide some financial assistance through the remaining CARES Act. They’re asking for $10 million to help music industry professionals.

“We’re asking for a small fraction of that to be given to the music industry for additional relief that is needed,” said Christee Albino-Bird, the executive director for the Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter.

They’re asking the money to go through the Recording Academy’s charity MusiCares where they can distribute the money to musicians in need. That money could help musicians like Eric Harrison.

“It was just weird everybody had to stop and just change everything about yourself,” he said recalling the past year.

Harrison is a musician, studio producer and sound engineer. He has his own companies Studio 601 and Hi Q Productions.

“Everything about music is kind of what I want to know,” he explained.

The longtime musician went from working up to 200 events each year to just about a dozen last year.

“I had to learn how to… it’s kind of like a blue-collar job,” he said. “I had to use my hands and work with people in a different way.”

Harrison and his wife had just bought a house last March, before the pandemic, in an effort to flip it. After the pandemic hit, Harrison said he is thankful for his wife who continued to work and he then took over the new house, learning how to do things he had never done before.

“I was able to hire some (musicians),” he said. Harrison was thankful he was able to help fellow musicians who were out of work.

For now, he’s hopeful for the future.

“The art has to exist and the art will exist and find a way to get out like Jurassic Park — life will find a way, art will find a way,” he said.

After nearly four months since the $15 billion Save Our Stages Act was signed into law, there’s now have a date for when live music venues can expect some relief.

The Small Business Administration will begin to accept applications for the now Shuttered Venue Operators Grant starting on April 8.

Tuesday afternoon, the SBA will host a virtual informational webinar to give music industry professionals a closer look at the application process.

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