Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Texas State University Center for Sociology Inquiry symposium Hill Country Music Scenes. http://www.soci.txstate.edu/csi/ There were two presenters and several members of a panel. The first speaker, Dr Bryce Merrill, presented on the impact music has on our economics. Although I did not study Economics in school I found this very enlightening. He spoke about not only musicians, but publishers, recorders, and the other crew members and how they bring tourism, travel, and support the economy when people buy merchandise (CD’s, T-shirts, etc).
The Second presentation, by Dr. David Grazian, was on the impact of music on culture. He spoke specifically of urban areas where buildings are repurposed for music and gave a specific example of a church.
Living in the Austin Area for the past 13 years I have seen how the community is impacted by musicians. I see a community that is very creative, not only in writing and playing music, but stretching dollars. We spoke about how unfortunately many who enjoy music in this community do not tip the musicians, but simply enjoy a “free” show. How unfortunate! Is there any other profession that is asked to share their skills for free? There are also creative people who design album covers and take photos of the musicians for publication. Then there’s always a critic, who writes about the experience.
In 1999 SIMS Foundation was created in Austin. It is a local non-profit that provides mental health services for local musicians. I have always been fascinated with this agency. They provide personal (individual) counseling, family, substance abuse and also band therapy in the past. So often a band operates and interacts like a family. The foundation was created after at least two musicians experienced a mental health crisis. Earlier this week the national news covered a story about a musician who completed suicide. In light of the symposium and my experience with SIMS Foundation I wondered if this musician had reached out for help recently. I hope to have the opportunity to work with some local musicians in the future.