Report: Texas music industry accounts for 95K jobs in state’s economy

The Mohawk in Austin held shows at their venue for Free Week. (KXAN Photo/Steffi Lee)
The Mohawk in Austin held shows at their venue for Free Week. (KXAN Photo/Steffi Lee)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The music industry added more jobs to the Texas economy in 2017, but the Texas Music Office says there’s still a lot of work ahead to keep this momentum going.

The office released its second Texas Music Economic Impact report, highlighting the industry’s growth from the last time it published these findings, which was in 2015.

From 2015 to 2017, there were nearly 3,000 more music-related jobs added to the state, now up to around 95,000. There was also about $8.5 billion in annual economic activity, up from $7.5 billion in 2015.

“Now the job moving forward is to keep those numbers moving in the right direction,” director Brendon Anthony said.

Cody Cowan, general manager at The Mohawk in Austin, knows it’s a challenging business to be in, despite how attractive the industry can be.

“The costs keep going up and then you have oversaturation,” he said. “It’s just a hard game to be in.”

Cowan said it’s important to communicate with policymakers and advocates involved with the city and the music industry about the ongoing needs and issues. On the Red River District, they’ve formed a merchant’s association.

He says when it comes to running a business, “It takes a strong working knowledge that’s intuitive about art, culture and music balanced by hard math and accounting.”

“You really need a business degree or some understanding of running numbers, code compliance and working within city apparatuses to be successful,” Cowan said.

Anthony said the Texas Music Office is working with cities across the state to get them certified as a “Music Friendly Community.” It’s a program that gives communities the tools to network, gain additional insight about industry development and strengthen communication between industry professionals and city leaders. So far, Fort Worth and Austin have received the official designation, with Denton, San Antonio, Lubbock and Dallas going through the certification process.

“The more we get cities intentional about communicating directly with the industry professionals in their own city, the better understanding they have about who they are, what they represent to their economy,” he said.

Through this initiative, he hopes venue owners and artists are able to better seek assistance in areas such as development issues and being forced out of their spaces due to rising rent. The Texas Music Office is also targeting ways to improve music education within the state’s universities.

“More need to be intentional about expanding what those kids learn — partnerships, internships, expanding their curriculums to prepare their kids for surviving in the industry community once they graduate,” he said.

Cowan says that’s important, since the music industry is a high-paced, fast environment that’s constantly changing.

“While some things stay true, what works as a business model today will not work as a business model next year,” Cowan said.

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