TMO Director Brendon Anthony’s “2020 Year in Review”
Greetings and Happy New Year! As we all give thanks for making it through an 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 interns, 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 unceasing support of the TMO and the entire Texas music industry.
Public service is an honor in which we serve with great pride. And our most important work in 2021 will find us all continuing to serve to assist rebuilding one of the most influential music industries in the country, as we work toward returning to the economic high water mark we were tracking in the first quarter of 2020.
During the last few weeks, we’ve worked with economist Jon Hockenyos of TXP Inc. to update our biannual economic impact study and determine the state of the industry leading up to the pandemic. Our newest economic impact study – which we are releasing in the TMO’s January 2021 Newsletter – demonstrates: at year's end of 2019, Texas music business and music education directly accounted for just under 100,000 permanent jobs, $4.4 billion in annual earnings, and just over $10.8 billion in annual economic activity, up from almost 95,000 jobs and about $8.5 billion in annual activity during 2017. 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 210,000 permanent jobs, $8.8 billion in earnings, and $27.3 billion in annual economic activity. The State of Texas also realizes approximately $440 million in tax revenue from these impacts.
With the completion of the study, we now have a target in assisting the industry recovery and our collective work to return to that high water mark. Look for the TMO to host information webinars in collaboration with NGOs and private sector industry partners, as well as in collaboration with our larger Economic Development and Tourism Division. (The first webinar launches on Thursday, January 21 at 1pm CT, where the TMO will be joined by Blayne Tucker and Curtis Monroe to discuss the application process currently under development for the recently passed Coronavirus Relief and Omnibus Agreement, which includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions).
In 2020, the TMO had to pivot in the ways we communicated with constituents, while continuing our role as an economic development office for the Texas music industry. The TMO quickly adapted to create new communication channels to assist the state's music industry professionals, helping them persevere through the Covid-19 pandemic. The music industry was one of the hardest hit, including the first business sectors to close and it is expected to be one of the last to re-open.
In mid-March, the cancellation of SXSW devastated the state's music economy, impacting tours, venues, production, and hospitality-related activities. The TMO quickly began gathering and disseminating pandemic relief grant assistance, SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans, and city/county grants and loans information to constituents across the state. The office also initiated a coordinated response with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to help TWC with the newly-created pandemic unemployment assistance for contract workers. The TMO provided direct assistance to hundreds of industry professionals, connecting them with TWC liaisons to address questions specific to the new CARES Act unemployment benefits for freelance/self-employed music industry professionals.
- In FY 2020, the TMO’s marketing and communication efforts included monthly newsletters, website traffic, and social media engagements reaching more than 4.4 million constituents.
- In January we partnered with the Kessler (Dallas) and Heights (Houston) theaters to present a Texas Music showcase at the Folk Alliance International conference.
- In collaboration with 501c3 nonprofit KOOP Radio 91.7 FM, the TMO launched a weekly music and industry news radio program entitled "The TMO's Texas Music Mixtape." The programs enable the office to reach hundreds of thousands of additional constituents through FM & HD radio, online streaming, and show archives on the TMO website.
- At the end of FY 2020, the TMO continued direct marketing and communications to the 15,734 confirmed businesses in the Texas Music Office Business Referral Network.
- The TMO's leading economic development program, Music Friendly Communities (MFC), was forced to pivot to virtual, online workshops and certification ceremonies. This year’s focus for the Music Friendly Communities program was “20 in 2020” – growing our total number of certified Music Friendly Communities to 20. The TMO certified McKinney, Alpine, Waxahachie, Lubbock, Bastrop, Waco, New Braunfels, Victoria, Denison, and Arlington to the MFC program, meeting its goal of certifying a total of 20 communities into the program in 2020.
- Additionally, as part of the MFC programming, the TMO hosted a virtual edition of the annual Texas Sounds and Cities Conference in partnership with Visit Fort Worth. Music Friendly Community liaisons, their staff, city government, NGOs, MFC advisory board members - as well as potential MFC liaisons from cities currently in the certification process - attended the event.
- In August the TMO coordinated a filmed interview with artist Ray Benson for his band Asleep at the Wheel’s 50th anniversary (pictured in photo above). The interview, a partnership with Austin City Limits, served as our entry for September’s virtual Americana Festival and Conference.
- The TMO continued its work of expanding its use of social media and monthly newsletter dissemination, connecting with Texas music industry professionals all across the state. In its monthly newsletter, the TMO provided important Covid-19 relief information about grants from nonprofits, SBA loans, and additional resources for music industry professionals and business owners with work loss due to Covid-19 mitigation. We also provided direct assistance to more than 400 industry professionals, connecting them directly with liaisons at the Texas Workforce Commission in order to address questions specific to the new CARES Act unemployment benefits for freelance/self-employed music industry professionals.
- The TMO’s engagement with constituents continued to grow, despite the pandemic, averaging more than 1.2 million unique visitors to our website and interacting with the TMO’s social media posts in FY 2020. Our monthly newsletter grew to more than 40,000 unique subscribers in FY 2020.
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. We’ll continue our meaningful dialogue between Texas cities large and small as we continue working on improving communication and creating opportunities for industry professionals statewide. I look forward to serving in 2021, and the opportunities for recovery, 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