Austin’s music community is thriving, and not just because the iconic conference and festival SXSW sets up camp here for over a week each year.

The Texan city’s music scene is marketed as America’s live music capital, bringing in US$1.8 billion a year (2016, Austin Music People). It’s 2 million residents make it the 11th largest city in the US and one of the fastest-growing.

But while music tourism is booming due to events like SXSW and Austin City Limits, jobs brought in by the local music industry are actually declining.

What’s more, none of the live venues own their property (sans one popular venue, Stubbs), landlords charge venue operators twice as much for rent during SXSW forcing some out of the city entirely, and musician pay is stagnant; in fact, most musicians make less than US$18,000 a year.

So why are other cities looking to Austin to develop their own strategies? TIO sat in on the ‘Austin, Y’all! Sustaining a Thriving Music City’ panel at SXSW to find out. 

Non-profits are sustaining the Austin music industry

There are over 10,000 music industry professionals in Austin and many of them work at the 142 music related non-profit organisations which support the community.

Lisa Hickey, co-founder rental furniture & decor company The Panacea Collection (formerly C3 Presents Director of Marketing) serves on the board of non-profit Austin Musicians, which helps artists find access to much-needed funds and health care.