2021: Texas Music Office’s Year in Review
Greetings and Happy New Year! As we all give thanks for making it through another unprecedented year, the Texas Music Office (TMO) staff and I have recommitted ourselves to assisting our beloved Texas music industry community.
I would like to thank Chip Adams, Marc Fort and Steve Ray of the TMO staff - and our hardworking fellowship interns Gray Gilliland, Katelyn Johnson, and Cristina Pablos - for all that they have contributed during the past year. I’d also like to thank Governor Greg Abbott and his staff - as well as Adriana Cruz, Director of the Governor’s Office Economic Development Division, and her entire team - for their continued support of the TMO and the entire Texas music industry.
Public service during these unique times within the music industry - and the world at large - is an absolute honor. Our most important work in 2022 will find us all continuing to serve to assist rebuilding one of the most influential music ecosystems in the country, as we work toward returning to the economic high water mark we were tracking in the first quarter of 2020, pre-pandemic.
One of the biggest 2021 priorities came at the end of the year as Governor Greg Abbott tasked me and the TMO with heading up his Task Force on Concert Safety. The Task Force was launched on November 10 in response to the tragedy at Astroworld Festival in Houston that killed 10 concertgoers and injured over 300. In December 2021 and January 2022, we held two initial meetings via teleconference followed by in person meetings in Bryan, Arlington and San Antonio (pictured here) bringing together public safety and industry experts, as well as expert contributors and local authorities to discuss best practices for concert safety.
The meetings included presentations by the Texas Music Office, TEEX Director David Coatney, and TNT Security Solutions' CEO Travis Lacox. Following the presentations, the task force held a robust discussion that examined the need for a consistent mass gathering permit for Texas' 254 counties, and the viability of a universal document. The task force decided that a designated member will speak to county judges about potential changes to current mass gathering permit systems. Additionally, the task force drew together a working set of reference texts that cover all aspects of public safety and best practices that apply to specific circumstances related to mass gatherings and concerts. The task force also discussed best practices for concert safety in a variety of situations and settings, including rural and urban settings. Finally, the task force continued developing recommendations related to guidance, education, outreach, and potential statutory changes.
In 2021, the TMO continued its pivot in the ways we communicated with constituents, while continuing our role as an economic development office for the Texas music industry. We released our updated economic impact study at the beginning of 2021 which tracked the Texas music industry’s economic highpoint up to the start of the pandemic so that we would have an accurate representation of where the industry can aim to return.
The music industry in Texas, including music businesses and music education, created just under 100,000 permanent jobs, with $4.4 billion in annual earnings, and generated over $10.8 billion in annual economic activity in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, up from almost 95,000 jobs and about $8.5 billion in annual activity. The added ripple effects from music businesses and music education bring the total impact to more than 210,000 permanent jobs, $8.8 billion in earnings, and $23.7 billion in annual economic activity. Texas also realized approximately $440 million in tax revenue.
Brenham, Dallas, Dripping Springs, El Paso, Grand Prairie, Odessa, Port Aransas, Round Rock, San Marcos, and Vidor were certified in 2021 after months of teamwork with the office, bringing the total to more than 30 Music Friendly Communities. Collaboration is of paramount importance to the program, which TMO facilitated by conducting the 3rd annual Texas Sounds and Cities Conference, bringing together current and potential Music Friendly Communities from across the state for a day of panels and roundtable discussions at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
In December 2021, the TMO brought together its Music Friendly Community liaisons for a series of virtual roundtable discussions. The idea for this stemmed from the TMO’s Texas Sounds and Cities Conference, where a significant part of the day was spent in breakout sessions. The ideas that flowed from those breakouts truly showed how important it is for our cities to have platforms for communication, sharing ideas, and learning from both their successes and mistakes. Participation is a key component to our Music Friendly program, and nearly all of our thirty cities were able to join one of the discussions. Our virtual roundtables gave the newer communities an opportunity to ask the more established certified cities questions, ranging from how their Advisory Board meetings are structured to what systems they use to house their city-facing music directories. Several themes emerged during the roundtable discussions, including: best practices for their MFC programs on social media, creating networking opportunities for local music industry, and leading educational workshops to help their musicians and music businesses. A huge thank you to all of our Music Friendly Community liaisons for continuing to work hard on behalf of their local music industries. A more connected Texas music industry is a stronger one, and events like these virtual roundtables are a great tool for helping bring our cities together.
In January and February, the TMO partnered with the Governor’s Office of Small Business Assistance to host several webinars about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operator’s (SVO) Grant. The webinars focused on the information required for small businesses to apply for the grant through the SBA. The webinars culminated with an online workshop featuring special guest Senator John Cornyn, co-author of the new bill that enacted this funding. The expert panelists included Tim Jeffcoat, District Director of the SBA in Houston, and Blayne Tucker, music industry lawyer, venue operator and champion of the Senator Cornyn’s bill. The TMO also continued to provide information on available assistance for music businesses and artists affected by Covid-19 mitigation, including the TMO staff providing unemployment assistance to more than 350 individuals in collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission.
The TMO continued its communications and marketing programs, including monthly newsletters, online news posts, and social media engagements reaching more than 3.6 million constituents. To further promote Texas music and music businesses by way of TMO’s marketing and communications, the TMO expanded its weekly music and industry news radio program "The TMO's Texas Music Mixtape” into an hour-long show. Produced in collaboration with KOOP Radio 91.7 FM, a 501c3 nonprofit, the show reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners through FM and HD radio, online streaming, and show archives that can be listened to on demand. The TMO’s industry directory continued to streamline and grow too: at the end of FY 2021, TMO had 15,946 confirmed music businesses listed on the Texas Music Industry Directory hosted on TMO’s website.
The TMO also secured a grant from the Cain Foundation and partnered with Kessler Presents to promote Texas music business opportunities nationwide at events such as Americana Fest, Folk Alliance International, and during the virtual 2021 South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). Additionally, the TMO co-hosted a virtual, streaming program entitled “Back Stage with Austin City Limits” in collaboration with the Texas Film Commission, celebrating the Film Commission’s 50th anniversary.
Finally, the TMO’s Education & Community Grant Program, funded through the sale of Texas music specialty license plates, continued to provide opportunities for the next generation of Texas musicians: $22 from the purchase of every Texas music specialty license plate goes directly to providing music instruments and lessons to school children in need around the state. In addition, this program partners with non-profit organizations to foster the development of young musicians throughout the state so they can continue the development of their craft, regardless of financial challenges.
I am personally honored to serve in my role as Director of the Texas Music Office, working daily to foster a welcoming environment for job creation, economic growth, and for Texas music businesses and individuals like yourself. We’ll continue our meaningful dialogue between Texas cities large and small as we never cease to work on improving communication and creating opportunities for industry professionals statewide.
I look forward to continued public service for the Texas music industry in 2022, and the opportunities for recovery, growth and positive change it affords.
Brendon Anthony, Director
Texas Music Office, Office of the Governor