I love Georgia music. In fact, you may have seen me around town supporting it.
Perhaps by the bar at the Earl or 529, supporting one of the many captivating characters* in our local scene. Or in that one StoneRider video. Or even just bopping around East Atlanta Village jamming Otis or the Allmans.
Maybe you’ve seen me at Criminal Records, where my startup TuneDig has been working with Eric Levin to build tools that help independent record stores survive and thrive in the digital era.
The point is, I’m proud to be from Georgia. I’m even prouder of the influence that our music exports have had on the rest of the country for years and years now.
I want to see that influence grow, and I want the opportunities here to grow with it. I want to see my friends’ bands blow up and ride the next wave of music embraced by the rest of the world. I want to browse my Facebook feed and read about friends getting gigs as studio musicians, engineers, guitar techs, producers, and FOH engineers the same way I’ve seen folks getting great jobs on movie sets. I want to flip through Creative Loafing and read about studios opening, not closing. I want to hear about big tours rehearsing in town, and I dream of a world where artists wouldn’t dare dream of skipping Atlanta on a tour route.
For those reasons and more, I’m urging everyone I know to support H.B. 155.
I’ve never stuck my neck out for local politics before. But in this case, I’ve done my homework and I believe H.B. 155 would be a game-changer for Georgia music – a change we desperately need.
Our film industry has grown tenfold in a decade. It’s now a $7 billion economic engine. The video game industry, which also benefits from tax incentives, has skyrocketed to $550 million and employs nearly 12,000 Georgians.
On the other hand, our music industry is fighting a daily battle to keep from imploding. Studios, venues, and rehearsal spaces are closing. (I’m still furious about Thunderbox.) Musicians are juggling grunt jobs to make ends meet, taking away from priceless time for creating and rehearsing. The music for films shot here is still being produced elsewhere. Worst of all, home-grown talent is still being lured away to NY, LA, Nashville, Austin and Seattle.
Music is in Georgia’s DNA. It’s an integral part of our sales pitch. If it’s a boom time for Georgia, shouldn’t our music industry be booming most of all?
Georgia Music Partners has been fighting tooth and nail for years to make that dream a reality. And who better to fight for that than musicians and industry professionals themselves? These are people who’ve been in the trenches for years, in studios and venues across the state and country. They led the charge to defeat the studio ordinance. They’ve fought to keep music in schools. They’ve been under the Gold Dome for five years now, demanding that our lawmakers pay attention to our music industry.
Because of that track record, I trust GMP to lead the fight.
When I heard that H.B. 155 was going to impose a tax on musicians and venues, I went straight to the source, asking Tammy [Hurt, GMP President] for clarification. She encouraged me to verify it for myself in the language of the bill itself. I did, and was happy to see that H.B. 155 is as advertised.
It’s a bill that could mean 10,000 music industry jobs. It’s a bill that’s backed by hundreds of organizations both inside and outside of the music industry. It’s not a bill that would tax musicians.
Of course, that makes total sense, because why would professional musicians struggling to grow their local industry advocate for a tax on themselves in the first place?
H.B. 155 goes to the House floor for a vote this week. If you care about Georgia music and want to see it stick around even half as much as I do, please call your representative today.
*You’re likely to catch me at a show for StoneRider, The Pinx, Stacktone Slims, Whores, Vincas, the Coathangers, Brother Hawk, Royal Thunder, Big Jesus, 6LACK, Father, New Madrid, Little Tybee, Death on Two Wheels, Ruby Velle, Run the Jewels (duh), any group Jared Pepper’s playing in (R.I.P. Killing Floor), or anywhere Dookie Platters may be spinning. Say hi if you see me around. I’ll be the tall ginger trying not to block anyone’s view.