Pandemic: The Local Culture Card Solution Lets Public and Private Sectors Cooperate to Save Our Local Musicians and Retailers

The Local Culture Card would be a limited purpose debit card that permits the cardholder to purchase goods or services from a designated group of “local arts vendors” who would be artists, retailers or nonprofit arts organizations operating in the locality of the user.  It would be like a targeted gift card sponsored by state or local government, local corporations, radio or television stations.

Local culture cards would be distributed free of charge to local residents charged up with a minimum payment that must be spent within 30 days of activation.  Once funds are used, the issuer or sponsor could elect to replenish the funds on the same 30 day basis.

Alternatively, the local culture card could be sold like a gift card on the same terms.

The purpose of the Local Culture Card would be to empower consumers with purchasing power to directly inject cash into a local artist community—and quickly.  This would help everyone in the supply chain from vinyl manufacturers to one-stops to local record stores to the artists themselves and their songwriters.

Those local arts vendors would sign up to accept the Local Culture Card as payment for goods or services.  The Local Culture Card could not be used at Amazon, Spotify,  Target, Best Buy, Apple or other big box retailers because the benefit would be too diffused and would not retain local funds in local communities.  The card could instead be used for purchases at a local brick and mortar store’s online operation or to make a Venmo contribution for a live stream performance for a local artist (or purchase directly from the artist’s Bandcamp account).

The Local Culture Card would initially be charged with a minimum amount of credit or could be purchased like a gift card.  It could be branded by locality, state or region and could also be branded as a sponsored card by either state or local government or other private sector sponsor.  It could be included or branded as Record Store Day collateral or similar commercial efforts as it will be effective in both commercial and noncommercial applications.

For example, an Austin Culture Card could be sponsored by the Austin Music Office or the City of Austin Economic Development Department.   City funds would be used to charge up the card with a minimum amount of spending power, say $50.

Artists like Guy Forsyth or Dave Madden could sign up to accept payment through a webpage for their direct online sales or contributions through Venmo or Paypal for live streaming events.  Local retailers like Waterloo Records could sign up to accept the Austin Culture Card for purchases at their online store of recordings by any artist.  Ballet Austin could sign up so that patrons could use the Austin Culture Card to donate to that organization.  Alternatively, Austin Creative Alliance could sign up to accept donations for any of its member organizations.

The same process could be repeated by the Texas Music Office for artists statewide through the TMO’s “Music Friendly City” operation, or by the Small Business Administration for regional or national artists, retailers or organizations.

Alternatively Local Culture Cards could be sponsored by corporations and distributed to their customers or radio stations and distributed to their listeners.  Indie labels could sponsor cards as a tie in with local record stores that carry the label’s recordings.

The only other requirement for using the Local Culture Card would be that the money had to be spent within 30 days of issuance or it would expire.   Ideally a bank issuer would agree to provide the card as either a physical or virtual credit card for a zero transaction fee.  Remember–the Local Culture Card is not scrip, it’s cold cash placed directly into the hands of artists, retailers and arts organizations  by their fans.

While the examples I’ve given are from Austin, there is nothing unique about Austin.  The Local Culture Card would be relevant for any city with a cultural community from New York to New Orleans–that the fans want to retain during and after the pandemic.

 

@TXMusicOffice: Music Industry Economic Impact Study Quoted by Sen. @JohnCornyn

The good news is the bad news is wrong.  And someone has the data to prove it.

If you watched Smokey Robinson’s riviting testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week, you may recall that Senator John Cornyn read some statistics from the Texas Music Office Economic Impact study on the benefits to the State of Texas from the music industry.

This one exchange should give the lie to the usual cant we hear from lobbyists both in and outside the music business that we will never win against the broadcasters on terrestrial royalties because there’s a radio station in every Congressional district.  There’s music industry in every state at least, if not every Congressional district.

The economic impact study concluded:

Combined, music business and music education directly account for over 95,000 permanent jobs, $3.6 billion in annual earnings, and just over $8.5 billion in annual economic activity, up from 92,000 jobs and about $7.5 billion in annual activity during 2015.

  • The ripple effects associated with the direct injection related to music business and music education bring the total impact (including the direct effects) to over 178,000 permanent jobs, $6.5 billion in earnings, and $19.8 billion in annual economic activity. The State of Texas also realizes over $323 million in tax revenue from these impacts.

In addition to the TMO economic impact study, you should also read Titan Music Group’s Austin Music Census that really drills down deep on the local impacts and has become a rally point for Austin musicians.

The Texas Music Office sets the gold standard for providing federal lawmakers with the information they need to defend the music industry as important job creators rather than an afterthought.

Senator Cornyn’s exchange should debunk forever the idea that there’s no support for music industry initiatives outside of New York, Nashville and Los Angeles, so nobody bothers to explain themselves to residents of flyover states.