Austin to launch ‘digital tipping’ service for local musicians, applications open May 1

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Austin’s local artists and musicians have been hit especially hard by the city’s ongoing affordability crisis, with many in the creative community moving their homes and studios to outer suburbs, where the cost of living is cheaper.

Amid the many attempts to quell the impacts of rising costs, the city of Austin is launching a program aimed at tipping the revenue scale for musicians in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” On Wednesday, May 1, applications will open up for the new “Tip the Band” program, which will allow qualifying bands to receive digital tips from credit and debit cards during live shows.

“Rising affordability pressures in Austin is a complex problem affected by a myriad of factors that the Music & Entertainment Division simply cannot control,” said Erica Shamaly, music and entertainment division manager in a media release. “Tip the Band Program will provide invaluable data on how a simple piece of technology could significantly increase earnings using an instantaneous process for fans to support their favorite artists.”

Austin’s music and entertainment division will select 10 local and “regularly performing” musical acts through a competitive application process to pilot the new technology for 6 months, according to the release. The technology—a digital card reader—will allow members of a live audience at all local or touring shows to tip the band “within seconds” the press release said.

After the trial period, the musical acts, which will be required to promote the program throughout their use, will submit a final report on the impact of the service. After submittal, the artists may continue using the digital card reader at shows.

The application process for artists will begin on May 1 and close on May 31. The 10 chosen artists will be announced June 14, with a program launch scheduled for July 1.

For more information on the program or how to apply, click here.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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