Why Memphis is a bad music town (and getting worse)

New Orleans Blues Project bluesprjct@yahoo.com
Mon Nov 1 20:29:02 EST 2004


  There are more places to perform in New Orleans, but also more musicians
competing for the gigs....the only ones that get by (& even then just barely)
are the ones that record and release CDs on a regular basis AND tour
regularly....and much of the problem in Memphis and New Orleans is the tourism
industry dictating the deals......in back rooms with public officials.......and
if there is public taxpayer money, economic and community development money
available it seems the hotels/tourism industry always, always gets its grimy
mits on it....virtually all of it ...( with the spin that it is somehow some
music or creative industries initiative)...along with tax increment financing,
tax incentives, tax breaks and on and on down the line. ...deals that are
alawys structured for the big players that already have easy and ready access
to plenty of private investment... these deals are structured to exclude small
creative industry enterprises.
 A recent music industry forum here in New orleans was dominated by tourism
business leaders with elected and appointed public officials bowing to
them....the whole discussion focused on importing audiences....now who does
that?  And who does that benefit?????? Hotels, restaurants, etc.,  but not the
musicians.  Meanwhile Louisiana musicians have always been the most effective
ambassadors for the state and the reason the numbers of tourists visiting each
year continues to rise...yet they rarely get any credit ....and no support for
their efforts.........Louisiana musicians need tour support...need, as all
musicians everywhere do, to tour and hit each market twice per year, etc. in
order to expand their audiences and sell their services and products, more of
and at higher prices.
  And the AFM local is never present at any of these forums or conferences and
don't seem to offer even a modicum of advocacy...always rationalizing instead
that because Louisiana is a 'right to work' state that their hands are tied
.........nothing they can do...but it doesn't even seem that they
try........the local AFL CIO org HOTROC that represents tourism service
industry workers went to the AFM local a couple of years ago wanting to team up
and collaborate, since musicians work within the tourism industry here so
much...the AFM blew 'em off...basically told 'em to forget it...stop thinking
about it....geez....meanwhile that state recently gave the sorry-assed Saints
roughly $7million, on top of millions more in the last few years...Saints keep
threatening to leave...wonder what would happen if musicians threatened to
leavespent $75 million bring the Hornets basketball team here too....even
though sports has access to mega millions in private investment and essentially
do not need public funds (sports comprises the biggest share of N. America's
$11 billion entertainment sponsorship investment industry) .........
something's gotta change........more organization, advocacy, more involvement
in public policy development...especially in light of changes in the economy as
new creative markets open up, etc.....time to stand up, get involved, speak up
and take control - away from the tourism industry....


=====
Sally Stevens, Founder/Director
 The NEW ORLEANS BLUES PROJECT       www.bluesproject.com
                  (504) 864-8377; Sally@bluesproject.com
 Music * Culture * Economic Development * Education * Advocacy
                  The BLUES HIGHWAY Millennium Trail
               "Community Development Through Music"



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