The ATX Music and Entertainment Office, a division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department, has released the Austin Music Census report.
The Austin Music Census was commissioned last year by Don Pitts, Manager of ATX Music, and conducted by the Titan Music Group.
The idea behind it is to improve ATX Music’s understanding of these music industry innovators and their needs, in terms of future growth of jobs, salaries, and revenues.
The data is based on 3,968 usable survey respondents, eight focus groups and 20 interviews. In other words, this census represents the collective thoughts and opinions of nearly 4,000 Austin musicians and music industry operators such as live music venues, music industry entrepreneurs and their employees.
This is the first-ever survey of this kind and scope in Austin, so it will serve the important purpose of being able to benchmark a comprehensive inventory of Austin’s music industry. Secondly, an analysis of the Austin Music Census data will help assess key needs and gaps, and produce proposals to assist policy makers in identifying economic development opportunities.
The report shows that the income of musicians in Austin is significantly below the average income in the Austin MSA, while music industry employees’ income is slightly below average. Venue owner and manager income is slightly above the average.
Out of the 1,883 musicians in the survey, a full 68.4 percent (or 1,288 people) earned less than $10,000 in annual music industry-related income for 2013.
Even if you factor in their non-music industry income (56 percent say they have other full or part-time jobs in industries unrelated to music), nearly a third of musicians in the survey are living on $15,000 or less per year in pre-tax income.
One of the key contributing factors to the low income of local musicians is the growth of Austin as a more populated market that can support large music events and touring bands. As consumers shift to these larger events, local musicians are getting squeezed out of the Austin area.
The report authors says that “there is significant evidence suggesting that musicians may already be moving away from Austin or are actively considering moving in the short term.”
Survey respondents were also asked about the “needs and gaps” that were inhibiting the growth of their careers and earning potential. All but one of the questions in the “Living and Affordability” category was ranked as having an “Extreme or Strong Impact” by 65 percent of musicians. Within this category, stagnating pay got the highest ranking, with 87.3 percent of respondents ranking it as top contributing factor in this category.
The report recommends solutions such as dedicated affordable housing for artists, citing such programs and policies in New York City, Minneapolis and Nashville.
To stimulate revenue creation, the recommendations include an “Austin Arts Loyalty Program” that would encourage and incentivize use of Austin music by other Austin-based entertainment companies in films, television, games, commercials, advertising, etc.
One of the recommendations to attract new music industry revenue and projects is to explore ideas that could make use of other divisions within the Austin Economic Development Department.
For example, they suggest working with the Global Business Recruitment and Expansion Division to generate more exports by identifying and executing on opportunities for either live or recorded Austin music. Another recommendation is to form export and trade partnerships with other music cities.
The report has similar comprehensive data and recommendations for the music industry and for music venues and nightlife establishments. Read the full Austin Music Census report (pdf).