Austin, the City Formerly Known as The Live Music Capital of the World.

Here’s a high level overview of my “Plan to Change the Future of Austin Music”. At the center of my plan is Austin’s capacity to out-innovate a common challenge for music communities.

My plan to change the future. ~ by Pete Monfre

ABR bandAustin’s gloomy Music Census tells a familiar story of a music scene that has outlived it’s economic viability. Venues operate on razor thin margins and the musicians, on average, live below the poverty level.

None of this is new or unique to Austin.

What is unique is Austin’s ability to innovate and drive value.

Perhaps this is why Austin is the fastest growing cities in America according to Forbes Magazine.  Austin has also positioned itself as “The Live Music Capital of the World.” With such an audacious claim, the picture the Census paints is problematic for the city. At stake is over $2 billion dollars in economic impact the music industry brings to Austin.

I think this number could be much higher – while at the same time improving musician wages, increasing profitability for venues and directly benefit Austin businesses.

Austin Music Census shows the vicious circle of music scenes
The survey uncovers much of the reality that musicians already know. There is more supply (great musicians) than demand (venues and people willing to pay a cover charge). The vicious circle of the music industry in Austin that drives down value is not uncommon in mature markets. Clubs shift risk to the bands, bands acquiesce by working for less, the quality of the musical experience declines as less skilled bands fill the void for free – further driving down value. Cover charges evaporate as people expect less from shows and venues.

As a 30 year veteran performer and marketing strategist for the Fortune 100 I believe have a unique perspective on both business and music.  More importantly I’m proving my ideas work.

Here’s a summary of my Three Point Plan to improve musician wages and working conditions.

  • Businesses: Leverage Austin’s Super Cool Music Scene

    Austin is a powerhouse economic force in one of the fastest growing cities in America. There is tremendous opportunity for local companies outside of the music industry to leverage Austin’s unique brand and talent to connect with prospective customers, generate awareness and drive opportunity by sponsoring music showcases and events that include music.
  • Musicians: Improve Value to the Market – Put some shine on it.
    Musicians understandably have little financial incentive to develop new approaches and to improve non-music skill sets.  My plan changes this equation giving incentive to musicians to improve their value to the market with business skills and delivering an experience people will pay for.

  • Venues: Change business model to attract more affluent audience

    The tavern business model dates to antiquity. I suggest it may not be the best match for today’s world. Venues need to innovate and adapt to the changing market.  For example, changing headline shows and artists to earlier hours to attract more affluent crowds, re-engineering their business model as venues first and taverns second. Venues can work directly with Austin businesses to bring value to their model through events, promotions and by engaging the non-music business community.


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