AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin may be the Live Music Capital of the World, but the music scene is evolving, with more musicians now moving outside central Austin.
Results from the 2022 Greater Austin Music Census were released Friday and showed how the landscape has changed. The census, a community-led initiative with more than 50 partners, including KXAN, is the second completed by the city. The first was conducted in 2014, becoming the first of its kind in the nation.
Since then, the number of “music creatives” has increased in the Austin area, but high housing costs are pushing them to other parts of the metro area.
According to the census, Austin’s music ecosystem is still anchored downtown, but is now “expanding into satellite communities,” like San Marcos, Pflugerville, Manor, Buda, Bastrop, Round Rock and Kyle.
The map below shows the change in population for “music people” — ranging from musicians themselves to venue owners, music business professionals and music nonprofits employees.
The outward migration from downtown Austin highlights the high cost of housing. Almost 40% of census respondents said they struggle to afford housing, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. One respondent said, “We were already on the edge of a cliff. COVID-19 just shoved us off.”
“Music people” in Austin are becoming more diverse. Since the first census in 2014, the number identifying as Black, indigenous or people of color (BIPOC) increased, while those who identify as white or European decreased from 67% to 60.3%.
The number identifying as male dropped by 9 percentage points to 62%, while the those identifying as female held steady, at 29% of respondents. Meanwhile, fewer younger people are entering the industry.
“Having this data gives us insights into what we are doing right in Austin for our music sector as well as areas for improvement,” said Nagavalli Medicharla, a musician and board chair for EQ Austin, a nonprofit which aims to stimulate cultural representation and economic prosperity in the music sector.
“We are grateful that the music community came together to represent the diverse voices of our city and look forward to any positive shifts that may arise in the local industry with this new data set,” Medicharla said.
The census collected data from music industry workers in the five counties that comprise the Austin metro area: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson. More than 2,200 responses were received between July 15 and Sept. 12, 2022.
The number of responses dropped by 43% compared to the 2014 census. A summary report from the census said there were likely a range of factors behind the decrease, including survey fatigue and shrinking music industry services after the COVID-19 pandemic.