Musicians and Venues: How to create economy

A couple weeks ago I started a petition to seek tax break incentives for small businesses at pay musicians a living wage in the attempt to provide some economic foundational support so that we can maintain our venues and maintain vibrancy for music.  Therefore, I am on a quest to understand how we can create solutions to help the small business that supports live music and our musicians to thrive.

Here are some economic impact studies on the music industry including San Francisco's study just released March 12 and I have found other "music" city studies from Austin, Nashville and Seattle that I think we can learn from as well. I truly believe San Francisco and the Bay Area is positioned to be a great city for LIVE MUSIC - essentially the west coast "Music City" if we can create economy for it, which I believe exists.

From the Economic Impact of San Franciscos Nightlife Businesses Study, conducted by the Office of Economic Analysis released on March 5 2012.
  • In addition, by drawing new visitors and spending into San Francisco, the Nightlife Industries are an economic driver, which expand business and employment opportunities for other sectors of the economy
  • In 2010, Nightlife Establishments Generated $4.2 Billion in Spending (this includes restaurants)
  • $220,000,000 are spent annually in Venues and Nightclubs (not including food and beverage sales)
  • $110,000,000 are paid out to musicians and other performers.
  • From SF nightlife industry, $55 Million in Tax Revenue from Sales and Payroll Tax is generated, and nearly 75% of which comes from sales tax (primarily from food and beverage sales, which musicians do not benefit from at all)
From the Nashville Chamber of Commerce Economic Impact Study of the Music Industry, January 2006.
  • Each dollar spent in the music industry has an impact on employment.
From The Austin Chronicle March, 2003 regarding Austin, TX economic study on music industry,
  • Many are convinced that the live scene needs direct intervention, from City Hall, in order to simply survive. That means money at a time when City Hall has little to spare. Some obvious off-the-top ideas, often advanced, include offering utility rebates to clubs. "When it comes to the live music venues, there's got to be some kind of ... well, 'tax relief' gets everyone wadded up, but if you own your own utility, utility relief would be a great thing," says KGSR star Kevin Connor, chair of the city Music Commission. "It's pretty expensive to keep Antone's or Steamboat cool most of the year."
From the Economic Impact of Seattle's Music Industry,A Report for the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, February 2004
  • A key trend identified by interviewees was the increase in independent artists, and simultaneously the low wages paid to performers. As a result, many people working in the industry have multiple employers and sources of income.
  • Many people who provide instruction to music students also engage in performance, and may sell recordings on independent labels. The combined income from these multiple sources of work creates higher earnings than average wage figure of $22,771.
As you see, every "music" city agrees, the music industry creates jobs, whether they are direct or indirect, therefore seeking economic gateways to support our musicians and our venue owners to be sustainable is relevant to economic recovery on many levels. If you are interested in working with me on this, please feel free to contact me at

Posted in Urban Music Newsletter March 14, 2012, edition 214