Although there is a spectacular community surrounding local music and art in Austin, prominent leaders in the collective are typically young and financially frustrated. Despite the progressive ideals that these trailblazers possess, their schemes can not be implemented until they have the city of Austin finically backing their proposals. Simply put, Austin will have to retire it’s title as “Live Music Capital of the World” if we don’t cultivate this place as a home for artists.
Sound restrictions, lack of transportation and affordable housing are just a few facets of this growing struggle for maintaining Austin’s vibrancy. Fortunately, Austin has a mayor who is finely in-tune with this campaign and the direction it needs to go.
Steve Adler, Austin’s mayor, has recently announced his plan to integrate a crowdsourced, $10 million “mini bond” to safeguard live, local music. Thanks to Adler and the San Francisco-based online investment startup group, Neighborly, the bond grants Austin residents and investors the righteous opportunity to financially defend the cities musical arts. Neighborly is self-defined as “modern public finance.” The investment group offers subsidy aid in small and large projects nationwide. In a recent competition for this kind of support, five American cities were granted a bond for various projects. Of the five winners, Austin was the only dirty south city to be rewarded–it’s time to capitalize.
The process is simple. Austin has $10 million dollars to allot to X amount of investors, who receive a return on their investment- an investment that goes toward protecting local music venues. In an interview with Austin Chronicle, the mayor’s communication director, Jason Stanford broke it down in simpler terms. “The mayor would want me to point out that the details haven’t been worked out yet. We still have to figure out how it’s going to be guaranteed, how much each bond is going to cost, and what the return is going to be. Say you’re going to buy one of these bonds for $500. The market has a certain return on bonds. This one will probably be less because it’s what’s called a socially responsible investment. Meaning you’re doing it for not just the money, but rather to achieve a certain policy outcome. In this case, it’s to preserve music venues. One way it’s been suggested it could work is to buy these properties and hold them in a land trust. In effect, it would be a lot like permanently affordable housing. The value of the land would be kept artificially low by the owner, which would be this bond, so the rent wouldn’t keep going up, and these guys wouldn’t be forced out of business.”
Crowdsourcing is a non-controversial attempt at saving Austin’s most revolutionary characteristic- music. Fiscally conservative patrons of the city can exclude this bond from their long list of reasons as to why the city shouldn’t invest in “hedonist” activity. It is not a government funded bond and it will be at no cost to the tax payers of Austin. This bond is a creative, inclusive and participatory way to restructure the backbone of our community. Although the details of the project are still being worked out, On Vinyl and the rest of Austin’s music people are fervently encouraging those who are capable of giving back, to do so. Let’s keep brilliant sounds pulsing through this concrete jungle, for some folks, it’s what keeps them alive.