Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Conversation Has (Long) Begun

Harlan T. Bobo poster, Goner Records, Young Avenue, MemphisIn their series of articles about Memphis music, Smart City Memphis stated that we need "a new conversation about our music future".

How's this for a conversation? Or the conversation, What (if anything) can local government do to improve the local arts scene?, which included these words from Col Bat Guano:
First of all, and more important than anything, make sure there's good music and art instruction in the public schools.

The city should make it attractive for artists to live here. It's already cheap to live here, mostly because no one wants to live here. This is usually good for artist types, who tend to be either very poor or very rich. The fashionable way for governments to encourage businesses to locate in a city is tax breaks. If you want to encourage musicians to live here, why not waive sales tax on musical instruments bought within the city limits? As part of their downtown revitalization project, Knoxville renovated an old building and made very cheap studio space available. Why not do something similar here, and include band practice space, too? Didn't there used to be a concert series in Court Square? Bring that back, and make sure it pays the bands. Have weekly shows in the Overton Park Shell and other parks around town. And we should have three times as many local acts at the Beale Street Music Festival. None of this sounds very expensive to me, in the big picture of city funding.

Since the problem cited in the study on Smart City Memphis study was that we had practically no music industry, the city should offer the same kinds of economic incentives they would offer, say, the worst professional basketball team in the Western Hemisphere. Since the music industry is currently pretty broken, I don't really know how to do that and make it work. But my guess is that labels will be smaller and cater to more and more specific niches. And, of course, promote themselves on the internet. This also has the advantage of promoting entrepreneurship and all that other free market claptrap that opens the public purse like a prostitute's pubis. Maybe FedEx could be convinced, with the help of city, to offer free or greatly-discounted shipping to record labels and distributors. It would actually be pretty good PR for FedEx if hip young people got FedEx packages full of music.

And decriminalize marijuana.
A good example of the Goner message boards' honest quality. The intelligence, irreverence and give and take are the equal of Slashdot, as good as it gets, imho.

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