Austin, Live Music Capital of the World is Big Business

Despite competition from New Orleans, New York and Seattle, Austin is rightly known as “The Live Music Capital of the World.” Adopted by the City Council in 1991, it’s more than a slogan – according News 8 Austin, Austin has more live music venues & festivals per capita than any other city anywhere.

Live Music Industry Means Jobs and Tax Revenue

Live Music Capitol Of The WorldAccording to 2001 report by the City of Austin’s Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs, the Austin live music industry provided over $616 million in economic activity, contributed over 11,000 jobs and paid over $11 million in tax revenues to city coffers. Actual tax revenue is far greater as the portion of sales tax paid to the State of Texas is not included. Bear in mind that this study was conducted over 10 years ago; with the population growth Austin has seen, these amounts are undoubtedly much higher today.


Combining film, interactive technologies and of course music, SXSW is Austin’s single largest profitable event for the hospitality industry. In 2012, attendees booked almost 11,000 individual hotel reservations totaling over 50,000 room nights – a gain of over 13% from 2011. Also in 2012, attendees spent over $116.6 million. SXSW operation expenditures totaled over $73.7 million. All told, the festival primed Austin’s economy to the tune of $190.3 million, according to an economic impact analysis released by organizers. That’s an increase from $167+ million in 2011, as reported in a survey by consulting firm Greyhill Advisors. Downstream marketers and unofficial events that cashed in on SXSW attendance were not included in either report. So it’s apparent that SXSW has an enormous impact on Austin’s economy and continues to grow year after year.

ACL Music Festival

A relative newcomer to Austin’s music scene, the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival began in 2001 and has since grown to provide a substantial impact to the city’s economy. In 2011, Angelou Economics released a report showing that ACL generated $73 million in visitor spending; in total, the event pumped $106 million into the local economy. One benefit of ACL is that organizers use revenue from ACL to fund civic projects such as 2009’s Zilker Park renovation, thereby freeing tax dollars for other uses. Over a five year period, the Festival funded $6 million to park improvements across Austin. Following a nine year run of sold out attendance, the festival’s popularity led organizers to expand the event to two weekends for 2013. Angelou Economics forecasts that adding a second weekend to the Festival could double the event’s economic impact.

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