Spending a Saturday night downtown or attending Austin City Limits, it’s not difficult to see people are doing their part to Keep Austin Weird. What seems like a booming entertainment industry with loud music, bright lights and heavily flowing alcohol has run into a few “weird” problems over the last few years. Issues of affordability, gentrification and job availability have musicians and music industry professionals struggling to pursue their passions while living in the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World.
Issues in the music industry became widely discussed primarily after the release of the 2015 Austin Music People Austin Music Census. The efforts of the Austin music and creative community, along with support from Mayor Steve Adler, indicate the emergence of a more self-sustaining music industry. A focus on locality, curation and a technology driven infrastructure are essential to building an industry vacant of economic issues.
The local creative community is thriving on a desire to collaborate and support each other. KVRX DJ Alexis Crutchfield (DJ Lex) dedicates her weekly hour on the radio to playing music made by artist who reside in Austin or surrounding areas. Crutchfield’s playlist often contain artists who have upcoming local shows to inform people about where they can go for local live music. “I consider myself a local creative so I think it’s important to extend my support to other creatives in the community,” Crutchfield said. The same extension of support can be seem among photographers, booking agents and musicians who value working with other locals.
People have recently been exposed to listening to music that is selected and organized for them. Streaming services Spotify and Apple Music have developed Spotify Discovery and Beat1 Radio in an attempt to curate music and promote music discovery. These playlists generated by an algorithm that monitors play history provides listeners with music they should enjoy. Curation can be observed locally with MUD magazine’s MUD FM and Views From the Pit’s Friday Night Vibes. These publications that focus on music and culture participate in curating and sharing music by releasing playlists on their platforms to share what their staff and contributors are listening to.
Music tech start ups introduced both the tech industry and the music industry to a new way to operate, together. Local start ups TipCow and On Vinyl Music are attempting to bridge the gap between music and tech. TipCow gives people the opportunity to tip artists electronically. On Vinyl Music is in the process of constructing a service that allows businesses to subscribe to playlists of local music to play in their facilities. A partnership between technology and music opens up potential for an increase in funds and job opportunity within both industries.
Austin Moving Forward
Supporting local artists, curating and sharing music and finding ways to merge Austin’s technology and music industry strengthen Austin’s music economy. Austin doesn’t need to be kept weird. Work to Make Austin self-sustaining.