Texas Chapter Advocacy Day Unites Music Champions in the Lone Star State
Over the past year, Texas's beloved music scene has been dangerously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, being the state with the highest venue closures out of any other. With music venues closed, crew members underemployed, managers with no gigs to book, and musicians with no stages to perform on, the Texas music scene and those that make it go-round have continued to suffer over the past year.
Prior to the pandemic, the vibrant Texas music industry accounted for 210,000 jobs. And more than just contributing to state economy, Texas's rich musical heritage is admired and valued nationally and around the world. Last month's 63rd GRAMMY Awards amplified and celebrated the tremendous music exported by Texans in the past year, including music from Beyoncé, Black Pumas, Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, Ruthie Foster, Snarky Puppy, and many more. While Corpus Christi's Selena and Dallas's DJ Spinderella with Salt-N-Pepa both received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award.
For those familiar with the Texas music scene, it is clear that most music creators earn their living from touring and gigs. Since that has been at standstill for over a year now, the ripple effect from this lost revenue has impacted artists and their teams, crews, music venues, and many others in the music ecosystem, including music manufacturers and record producers.
The Texas Chapter understood the dire financial outlooks facing members of their creative community and decided to take action. On Tuesday, March 30, the Texas Chapter and its members united to host and participate in the virtual "Texas Advocacy Day."
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) March 30, 2021
More than 75 members state-wide, including past and current GRAMMY® nominees and winners, came together for Texas Music Advocacy Day and met with over 30 offices. The event was sponsored by State Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) and State Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston). Participants representing the Academy's Texas Chapter included multi-GRAMMY nominee Bun B, prominent producer and multi-GRAMMY winner Larry "S1" Griffin, Latin GRAMMY nominee and artist Gina Chavez, multi-GRAMMY nominee and Gospel artist Brian Courtney Wilson, GRAMMY-nominated record producer and Recording Academy Chapter Trustee Tim Palmer, Recording Academy Chapter President Carlos Alvarez, and many more of note.
While this year's event was held virtually, many members participated in the event and used their voices to call on their elected officials to enact meaningful relief programs for the struggling music ecosystem. "Many of the legislators need to be made aware of the fact that the 'ripple effect' of the pandemic is only now becoming fully visible in our industry," said Palmer. "As a producer and mixer, I worked through the early part of the pandemic with no issues at all, but now I'm beginning to see a change. Without live show income, many artists basically have no money left to be able to spend on production, mixing and studio costs. The return of live music is so separately needed as earning a living wage from streaming is still largely a fantasy to most artists. We all really need to step up and advocate for our music community and get them the help they need and deserve. Texas Advocacy Day was hopefully a step closer to our goals."
The music community was one of the first sectors shuttered by the pandemic and will be one of the last to return to normal operations. Understanding what is at risk, Texas Chapter advocates lobbied on behalf of three key provisions to help assist the ailing ecosystem. First, participants requested that the state legislators re-appropriate state funding received under the CARES Act to organizations, like MusiCares, in order to better support local creators. Next, advocates shared their support of H.B. 3836, which protects both creators and consumers from online criminals who disseminate and distribute unauthorized music. Finally, creators urged policymakers to oppose H.B. 434, which removes the fine arts credit requirement for high school students.
Texas musicians! Today I’m working with @GRAMMYAdvocacy to ask State Representatives to help Texas music by creating a $10M TX Music Recovery Fund, stop illegal 🎶 piracy, and save music in TX schools. You can help too: https://t.co/TkobY0zZc7 1/5 pic.twitter.com/19s1FyI3Ix
— Nakia (@Nakia) March 30, 2021
"The Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy has heard the stories of our members and continues to advocate for and serve our music community as best we can. That's why we organized Texas Music Advocacy Day on March 30th, while our state lawmakers are in session, so we can talk to them about the ways they can support Texas music," said Executive Director Christee Albino Bird. "We're asking for additional relief needed for music professionals as we continue down this long road to recovery, support for Fine Arts programs in public schools, and to support bills that protect creators' from online theft and that help music venues recover from the pandemic."
Texas Advocacy Day proved to be an incredible moment for the music community, and legislators are now brief on the needs of the music community. "We are doing everything we can to support the music industry. You have an advocate here," said Representative Hunter.
Thank you to all the music advocates who participated in this year's activation. The Recording Academy and the Texas Chapter look forward to hosting an in-person advocacy day in Austin next year.