2017: The Texas Music Office Year in Review

January 1, 2018

Greetings and Happy 2018! After such an eventful 2017 I hope that the holiday season was restful and relaxing and that the New Year is off to a great start.  I’m personally excited by the opportunities afforded us in the upcoming year, and our office will continue to share these new details as they emerge throughout 2018. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and to personally thank Steve Ray and Marc Fort of the Texas Music Office (TMO) staff, and our hardworking interns, for all that they have contributed during the past year. Their daily efforts have made the Texas Music Office stronger and more connected to the Texas music community at large than ever before. I would also like to thank Governor Greg Abbott and the staff of the Office of the Governor - as well as Bryan Daniel, Director of the Governor’s Office Economic Development Division, and his entire team - for their unceasing support of the TMO and the entire Texas music industry. Without their support for our initiatives and their openness to our input, we would lack the capabilities and opportunities we enjoy today at the TMO.

2017 was a benchmark year for the TMO as the office launched its Music Friendly Communities Program to foster best practices among music communities and to create a more interconnected music industry. In July, the office debuted the first MFC workshop in Fort Worth, with the assistance of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. MFC workshops followed in Lubbock, Denton, and San Antonio in a continuing effort to include all major music communities in the state. After meeting program requirements, Fort Worth and Austin were recognized by the TMO as the first two certified Music Friendly Communities. We’ve laid the ground work to certify several more Texas cities in 2018. Additionally, the TMO traveled with representatives from Texas cities to Memphis, TN to take part in Sound Diplomacy’s Music Cities Conference, where we promoted the TMO’s new “Music Friendly Communities” program, as well as studied best practices to help strengthen music communities all around the state.

On November 14, the Texas Music Office released the findings of its 2017 Texas music industry economic impact study. The TMO worked with TXP, Inc. economist Jon Hockenyos and his team to update the office’s first state-wide economic impact study, which was conducted in 2015. The findings from the study showed that the economic impact of the Texas music industry has grown significantly from 2015 to 2017: “Combined, music business and music education directly account for almost 95,000 permanent jobs$3.6 billion in annual earnings, and just over $8.5 billion in annual economic activity, up from just under 92,000 jobs and about $7.5 billion in annual activity during 2015. The ripple effects associated with the direct injection related to music business and music education bring the total impact (including the direct effects) to over 178,000 permanent jobs, $6.5 billion in earnings, and $19.8 billion in annual economic activity. The State of Texas also realizes approximately $323 million in tax revenue from these impacts (a 15% increase from 2015’s $280 million in tax revenue).”

On August 29, the TMO joined the rest of the Office of the Governor in rushing into action on Hurricane Harvey relief. The TMO took on an organizational role, working with the Texas music community to assist in organizing benefit concerts, from large arena shows to small town community benefits. The TMO helped coordinate the Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas benefit concert (ft Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, and various artists) and the Hand in Hand Concert (ft George Strait and Miranda Lambert), putting the large production telethons together with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation’s “Rebuild Texas Fund.” More than $20 million was raised at benefit concerts in September and October.

One of the TMO’s other major programs – the Texas Music license plates which fund grants for under-resourced Texas school students to receive music lessons and instruments, as well as community programs – saw significant growth in 2017. Texas Music license plate sales increased to $16,630 in fiscal year 2017, up from $12,269 in the previous fiscal year. Grants from the sale of Texas Music license plates totaling $33,102.58 were awarded to 10 different Texas nonprofits including Incarnate Word Academy in Brownsville, Van Cliburn Foundation in Fort Worth, Texas Folklife in Austin, Beyond the Grade in Del Valle, and Jersey Village HS Band Parent Organization in Houston. Based on sales reports from Texas Department of Transportation, revenue doubled since the redesign – and increased marketing efforts – of the charitable license plate.

And the rest of the 2017 was jam packed with daily efforts to meet our office’s mission of continued economic development of the state’s music industry. Some of the highlights included:

  • The Texas Music Office (TMO) continued its work to help organize industry professionals associated with the Texas Country and Red Dirt genres in Steamboat, Colorado at the annual MusicFest conference hosted by Dickson ProductionsThe ongoing work resulted in the creation of the nonprofit – The Independent Music Alliance – which has seated a governing board, as well as drafted its mission to advance opportunities for the Texas Red Dirt and Country music genres, important revenue drivers for the state.
  • The TMO traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with executives from the NMPA, the RIAA, Sound Exchange, the Copyright Alliance, as well as with the Office of the Governor's federal legislative affairs team to discuss opportunities for Texas musicians and national policy that affects Texas musicians and music businesses.
  • The Texas Music Office presented the results of a months-long research project on the state of the Texas music industry (with detailed data on the number of music businesses with all Texas legislative districts) to the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy as a part of their biennial "GRAMMYs at the Texas Capitol" day.
  • During SXSW, the TMO joined Governor Greg Abbott in hosting a small group of music industry executives at the Governor's Mansion on March 15. The executives met with Governor Abbott, Economic Development & Tourism Director Bryan Daniel, and I about business development opportunities in the state. Later that evening the TMO co-hosted the annual Capitol Salute to Texas Music concert featuring performances by Texans Kimberley DunnLa Maquinaria Nortena and Aaron Watson at Saengerrunde Hall. In addition to SXSW, the TMO made hosted showcases and made presentations at TMEA, Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, Americana Music Conference in Nashville, CBI National Student Media Convention, and at other industry conferences across the nation.
  • The Texas Music Office staff joined the University of Texas at San Antonio's second annual Music Biz Day at the UTSA School of Music to discuss the state of the Texas Music industry and opportunities for growth.
  • April marked a return trip to Nashville, TN for the first of two business development trips in the city during 2017, meeting with the heads of licensing at BMI and ASCAP, as well as with several music publishers, advocating on behalf of Texas artists. Later in the year, we traveled to New York City to meet with the performance rights organizations about their plan to increase their presence and on-the-ground commitments in Texas.
  • The TMO made trips to Dallas to meet with the regional office of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and to College Station to meet with Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp to discuss potential music tech innovation competitions hosted by Texas A&M Engineering, the Texas Music Office, New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, and the Mays Business School. We also traveled to West Texas A&M with Chancellor Sharp to congratulate in person President Walter Wendler and his team on their state of the art collaboration with Belmont University in Nashville. This new collaboration gives WTAMU music students a unique opportunity to complete a music business degree and establish a professional network in one of our country’s most important industry centers.
  • The Texas Music Office launched its new website at texasmusicoffice.com. With a complete redesign, the TMO has made it even easier to navigate, and find information about Texas music businesses, artists, radio stations, and annual events. The new website is responsive to mobile devices, and it is accessible for screen readers for the visually impaired. Just a few of the website’s new features include a news blog, a searchable artist database, a searchable radio stations database, and a new events calendar.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new anti-counterfeiting bill (SB 1343) into law that strengthens protections against physical music piracy and provides law enforcement representatives and prosecutors with clear and efficient legal tools that can be used to protect the Texas music industry.
  • The U.S. Second Court of Appeals ruled against the U.S. Department of Justice and affirmed BMI's consent decree victory, which allows for the practice of fractional licensing. This ruling confirmed the early position Governor Abbott and the TMO took in August of 2016, resulting in a massive victory for Texas songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

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, and economic growth, for Texas music businesses and individuals like yourself. I expect to see many more additions to our Music Friendly Community list and to begin a meaningful dialogue between Texas cities large and small dedicated to improving communication and improving chances for industry professionals statewide. I look forward to this New Year and the opportunities for growth and positive change it affords.

All our best from the Texas Music Office…and Happy New Year.

Brendon Anthony, Director 
Texas Music Office, Office of the Governor