AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas’ music industry has generated $4.6 billion in profits and over $10.8 billion in economic activity, according to the Texas Music Office’s 2023 “Economic Impact of Music in Texas” study.
The industry employs 90,000 people in Texas, according to the study. The direct impact, once combined with the industry’s “ripple effect” into associated industries, accounts for “over 192,000 permanent jobs, $9.4 billion in earnings and $26.6 billion in annual economic activity.”
The State of Texas receives $469 million in tax revenue from the music industry and it’s impact, the study states.
Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office, says the office has commissioned the biennial studies since 2015 in order to provide data to legislators during Texas’ legislative sessions.
“The music industry economy is continuing to grow and improve … the indirect effects of the music industry place it as an important economic driver,” Anthony said. “$26.2 billion in economic activity would signify that the music industry economy is still strong after our latest study, and that it still serves, not only as an important part of the brand of Texas, as culturally an important part of what our state does really well and has done for generations.”
The report can be read below:
“For generations, Texas has been known internationally as an incredibly diverse, interesting and unique music industry space unto itself. That isn’t changing,” Anthony said. “Texans now have put Texas on the map for music; for songs they’ve written, for performances they’ve given, and it is not changing.”
In Anthony’s telling there is a bright future for Texas music; he views Texas as an emerging leader in the music industry and for other states.
“There are issues that are federal, that are facing all stakeholders in the music economy across the board,” Anthony said. “I see our state growing creatively as well, both through music, through film, through gaming. I see an entertainment industry center, made up of a lot of different parts through those communities, but one of the most powerful industry centers in the in the country, if not the world, and that — that is something that is in our future.”
What does this mean for Austin’s scene?
The City of Austin brands itself the “Live Music Capital of Texas,” a marketing slogan that Anthony says may find its truth through the city’s support for artists
“Austin has been an industry center for a long time in its own way,” Anthony said. “In terms of its relation to communities its size, smaller or larger around the world, the amount of nonprofit and institutional support that creators in Austin enjoy is unparalleled. What we know for certain is that there are some really generous and smart people who are working behind the scenes and a nonprofit way and in an institutional way.”
One such supporting nonprofit is the Austin Texas Musicians. CEO Pat Buchta is a strong advocate for his city, happily claiming that its performers, venues and festivals all contribute significantly to the economic impact.
“What makes Austin so special is our community,” Buchta said. “We haven’t traditionally enjoyed a lot of the industry that other places like LA, New York, Nashville have, but it is coming to Austin. We have a lot of resources that we didn’t have a few years ago.”
The organization and Buchta both advocate for more support from the governments of Austin and Texas, and he says that there’s more that can be done.
“We’re experiencing a severe lack of creative spaces here, rehearsal spaces, performance spaces, all these things that we had in droves just a few years ago really don’t exist anymore,” Buchta said. “It’s a matter of working with the city, with the economic development department, and to find some of these spaces around town, bring in some more funding to develop them.”
The migration of musicians from Austin to locales such as Lockhart and Round Rock, is a cause for greater collaboration by the music industry across Travis County.
“I think one of the running jokes right now is that Lockhart is now the live music capital of Austin,” Buchta said. “We’re starting to see a lot of our artists move to these more affordable areas outside of the city. It’s a matter of tapping into resources in those other areas, and starting to work across the borders of our cities, to really provide for musicians.”
How does 2023 stack up to 2019?
Prior studies by the Texas Music Office, specifically the 2019 and 2021 studies, show how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the music industry.
The 2019 study examined the landscape in 2018, and shows 96,923 jobs in the music industry, with $4.1 billion in earnings and $9.6 billion in revenue. Combined with the “ripple,” the industry generated $390 million in tax revenue.
For 2020, music industry jobs rose to 99,134, and earnings rose 7% to $4.443 billion and revenue rose 12% to $10.808 billion. Tax revenue from the music industry rose to $440 million.
In 2022, employment in the music industry fell by 9%, earnings rose by only 3% and there was no increase in revenue. However, tax revenue increased, as did earnings and revenue associated with the ripple effect.
“The return was a hard one, but vigorous,” Anthony said. “What we’ve seen is that the music and entertainment spaces have come roaring back. Festivals venues are all thriving again. Thankfully, many of them the vast percentage of them are still existing.”
Anthony credits the music industry’s survival to government assistance packages, and resurgent demand. The return has some looming issues, particularly in the industry’s ability to supply live music.
“There is a bottleneck and there’s a finite number of tours that can happen at one given time, there’s a finite number of festivals that can happen at any one given time,” Anthony said. “There are only so many venues that can accommodate the sheer number of people in performances. So what you’re seeing across the board nationally, getting into some very general trends, is that touring is more expensive now than ever.”
He also hopes Americans don’t take live music for granted, and make the effort to see shows.
“That’s our sincerest hope, we will see over the next year or so maybe even longer, is that there is sort of a pendulum swing from absolutely nothing going on to quite a bit happening at one point,” he said. “And maybe that strain that the touring world is facing right now might abate somewhat, maybe that pendulum will sort of swing back into the middle and we’ll find the status quo that it’s a little bit more economically viable for everybody.”