As the self-proclaimed music capital of the world, Austin has a unique position of deciding its future and paving the way for other music cities in the process.
Although it is built on a foundation of “love, zip ties and duct tape,” data-driven conversations are what will build the future of Austin’s music industry, said Cody Cowan, general manager of the Mohawk music venue.
At the South By Southwest Conference & Festivals panel titled, “Austin, Y’all! Sustaining a Thriving Music City,” music industry professionals discussed growth challenges the city is facing.
“Austin is experiencing its share of difficulty right now,” said Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office. “Growth has a tendency to manage a city versus a city being able to manage the growth … Austin is blessed with a vibrant music scene, yes, but there’s a safety net for those people here.”
That safety net can include nonprofits, city-based systems and data collection projects, tools that other Texas cities may not have. The Texas Music Office is working to improve that with its “Music Friendly Communities” program.
“We learn lessons in Austin,” Anthony said. “But we have systems in place that can help us deal with those issues.”
Currently, one of Austin’s music industry concerns is affordability for Austin musicians. Community Impact Newspaper reported on how some musicians are moving south in October.
“Instead of being a topic of the conversation, let’s drive the conversation,” Cowan said. “It wasn’t until we started talking about math, rather than emotion, that people started to take us seriously.”
Anthony said if local officials can look at the music industry side-by-side with every other industry driver, they will respect that there is an effect and listen.
“Yes, music and the industry professionals that contribute to the economy are huge contributors to the cultural side of our cities that we love,” Anthony said. “On the other side of that coin, they are also very very important to the bottom line of a city.”
Follow Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage of SXSW at communityimpact.com/topics/sxsw.