City Council has declared the Red River strip in downtown Austin an official Historical District thanks to a lot of petitioning and hard work. This is significance because, as many locals already know, the booming local economy has brought all sorts of changes to our beautiful city. No matter what your stance is on the 15,000+ people who move here every year, it’s pretty much impossible to deny the impact of the growth.
The average listener has no idea how the development and population density have threatened our namesake as “The Live Music Capital of the World”; a catch-phrase established by the Chamber of Commerce to help bring in tourism revenue. As noise restrictions tighten and real estate values goes up, the bottom rung for local music business gets weaker, along with the culture that comes with it.
Our seemingly innocent little slogan is known the world over, but unfortunately it’s only used when convenient. Waved wildly during festival seasons, it’s seldom used to defend the every-man. As profits soar for the industry big dogs, plugs are being pulled on the people keeping the buzz alive on the street: the fans, the sound guys, the bartenders, and the performers. Welcome tourists! Enjoy the excitement before you forget what all the fuss was about. Lets hope the people with clout don’t forget their roots either.
It’s ironic that the success we’ve seen from waving such a supercilious banner is aiding in the destruction of the cash cow it aims to promote. What’s to come for the clubs my peers and I grew up playing in remains to be seen, but this landmark decision ultimately gives musicians a louder voice in pending debates. Props to the people who signed the petition and to the organizations like AMP, HAAM, and AMF who work full-time to help keep Austin culture alive!