I live in Austin Texas, the self-proclaimed 'Live Music Capital of the World', designated as such in 1991 by Austin city leaders because of the number of live music venues. However, this identity is rapidly losing its value as an increasing number of venues close, replaced by high dollar housing, silencing the musical notes in favor of bank notes.
The core of the problem is that the natural wealth produced by the musicians & myriad other Austin creatives has been extracted & consumed by the moneyed class. All with little or no regard or those who invested the time, energy and talent to make & keep Austin the creative wellspring that has drawn people here for years.
This Pitchfork article from 2015 brought the conversation forward, The Crisis of Gentrification Hits the Austin Music Scene
- At this point, it’s apparent that this community of musicians and venues is currently in a precarious position. There are people fighting back, between musicians coming together to protest changing developments to club owners banding together to try and prevent more downtown venues from closing. No matter what the outcome of this fight, or even what the next fight is, it seems that the landscape of the city is irrevocably transforming, and a city known for fostering artistic communities is becoming less friendly to musicians with each passing change. While every city has its issues with artists losing ground to big business and gentrification, watching it happen in the "Live Music Capital of the World" doesn’t inspire much hope for other places.
And, two years later, that conversation continues with no satisfactory resolution in sight, as shown in Andrew Flanagan's story published today, The Struggles Of Austin's Music Scene Mirror A Widened World:
- The business underlying "The Live Music Capital of the World" stands bifurcated between its lucrative festivals (SXSW principally, but Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest and others, too) and, as studies have found, a dwindling local music scene. Austin didn't become the self-styled "Capital" solely by hosting a handful of gargantuan events, which were first born from and since have capitalized handsomely on Austin's brand to increase their now-global footprints, which have drawn outsized attention to the city. These large events and a rapidly expanding population have put an unintended strain on the infrastructure of the local music scene which helped create them and on which they still rely — it's hard to throw innumerable shows, as during SXSW, in a city with fewer and fewer venues to put them in.
In 2017, Austin is once again at an identity crossroads, but this time I have greater faith that story of what's next won't be written by the government or the developers. Thanks to technology, creatives are able to shape & bring forward their natural wealth to their own benefit. Here are just two examples:
- Yeti Coolers series 'Soul of the City' featuring local neon cowboy Evan Boyles
- Writer JC Shakespeare's documentary 'Austin Texas Baby' about 'the Spirit of Austin -- past, present, and future -- as we work together toward a conscious, creative future'
I have full faith that the creativity in all its many forms will keep flowing in Austin, especially since creatives have the tools to call their own tune.
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Ideationist // Inclusion Activist // Founder @ATXFabric // Partner @ComunityWealth // Blogger @neighborecon // Originator S.L.O.W. Tech® The Ideationist: “Ideation comprises all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization.”I am a social impact entrepreneur and [...]