In Near-Unanimous Chorus, Council OKs Plan to Review Affordability Issues in Music Scene

Mar 4, 2016

The Austin City Council voted Thursday to investigate a long list of ideas drafted by Mayor Steve Adler to support Austin’s ailing music industry — one study says Austin saw a loss in 1,200 local jobs over four years, while another says a fifth of musicians live below the poverty line.

Adler's list of proposals, which could also benefit the creative economy as a whole, passed with near-unanimous approval at the council's meeting last night. 

Many council members took the time to tack on amendments at the dais before approving the proposals. Council Member Ann Kitchen added a line to make sure an initiative would focus on protecting current music spaces – particularly, studio spaces.

“Our options for protecting existing space as we continue to develop throughout our city, particularly in areas that are closer to town and those that are developing extensively and where we are at risk of losing existing studio space,” Kitchen said.

Council Member Ora Houston added language to ensure that the city’s support for the music industry would include diverse cultures.

“I just want to make sure that we’re clear that this is not the same kind of attempt to do something for our creative that is only driven by a certain group of people,” she said.

Council Member Don Zimmerman was the resolution's only dissenting vote. He said he was "deeply concerned" by the proposals' "astronomical" fiscal impact, adding that proposals in the resolution would effectively subsidize some musicians, while others would be "driven out of the city." 

"Nobody is opposed to growing and enhancing Austin's music sector," Zimmerman said, quoting the language of the resolution. "What our constituents are opposed to is an unaffordable city, and this is how we make the city unaffordable."

City Manager Marc Ott is expected to present a plan of action to the council’s Economic Opportunity Committee by June.