Wouldn’t it be nice if musicians could derive income from the constant stream of tourists frolicking around Austin? Ideally, jet-setters would patronize clubs featuring original live music, then stumble back to their hotels with a band T-shirt draped over their shoulder and record under their arm. Sounds simple enough, right?
Then how is it that no one in the capital’s public or private sector has ever succeeded in marketing Austin’s grassroots music culture to visiting out-of-towners?
After all, there’s at least one standard avenue to prosper from tourist dollars. Follow along: Visitors pay to stay in hotels, the hotels then give some of that money back to the city, and finally the city flows that revenue into the local music community via programs and grants. Now that extra $30 folks get charged on a $200 hotel room doesn’t seem like such a rip-off, does it?
The hotel occupancy tax (HOT tax) collects 15 cents on every dollar spent on lodging in Austin. Of that sum, 6% goes to the state and 9% funnels back to the city. That amounts to an estimated $92 million this year alone. Cultural Arts programs receive 15% of the municipal slice annually, with $11.7 million projected for 2018, funding music constituents would kill for. The competition for tax revenue has been so fierce in the past several years that the therapist for former Music Office manager Don Pitts forbade him from even uttering the words “HOT tax.”
How is it that no one in the capital’s public or private sector has ever succeeded in marketing Austin’s grassroots music culture to visiting out-of-towners?
The Visitor Impact Task Force, a squadron of music, arts, hotel, special events, public works, restaurant, and parks representatives, spent the first five…