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June 26, 2024

Who owns Austin’s venues, how it’s changed, and why it matters.

By: Elizabeth McQueen

20 years ago, most of Austin’s venues were independently and locally run. But over time, corporations like Live Nation and Oak View Group have entered Austin’s venue landscape. Discover how that happened, and what it means for our live music ecosystem.

The full transcript of this episode of Pause/Play is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Elizabeth McQueen I’m Elizabeth McQueen.

Miles Bloxson And I’m Myles Bloxham. And you’re listening to Pause play. A podcast about live music, why it matters and what comes next.

Elizabeth McQueen This season, we’ve been looking at how different global and local changes are impacting our live music ecosystem here in Austin.

Miles Bloxson In the last episode, we looked at ticketing through an Austin lens, and in this episode, we’re going to explore our venue landscape and how it’s changed over the last 20 years.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, and I’ve done a lot of research that I can’t wait to share with you. So Miles, I moved to town in 2000 to play music, and when I moved here, I was struck by how the music venues in Austin were pretty much all locally owned. But something has changed in the last 24 years, and that’s that. Some of the venues in Austin are now owned by large national or multinational corporations. I had this feeling that like, things were different, but I wanted to know just how different. So I enlisted the help of Julie Rios, who is a work study student for CT, and Diego RTA, who is an intern here at CT. And we put together this spreadsheet. We got a list of music venues from the Austin Chronicle from 2004, and then we got the current list of music venues from the Austin Chronicle. And we went through and we looked at who owned the venues and like thankfully in Austin, reporters do a lot of reporting on venues. We couldn’t have done this research without the work of journalists like Michael Corcoran and Chad. We, a techie dead person, get to Stith Rao Hernandez, Kevin Curtain, Rachel Rasco and so many more.

Miles Bloxson Oh McQueen, I know how you love a good research project. So tell me what you found out.

Elizabeth McQueen Well, in 2004, most of the places that had regular live music in this town were locally owned. In fact, we could only find four businesses that weren’t locally owned, and none of them were primarily music venues. There was fado that was an Irish pub that had music that was part of a chain of Irish pubs owned by a company out of Atlanta called Fado Pubs Incorporated. The Driscoll Bar and the Driscoll Hotel had music in 2004. I know because I played there, and in 2004 the Driscoll was owned by a company called Great American Life Insurance. Then there was Roy’s, which was a chain of Hawaiian seafood restaurants. They had jazz here in Austin, and it was owned at the time by the folks that owned Outback Steakhouse. And then there’s Central Market, which is a grocery store that has music. And I also played there a lot in 2004. It’s owned by H-e-b, which is technically headquartered in San Antonio. But like shout out to H-e-b, we love you and we feel like you’re in Austin company.

Miles Bloxson Man, that’s super interesting. So was it like mostly Austin based companies?

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, it was either individual owners or like there were some local companies that own multiple venues. The most well-known being Direct Events. It was run by a guy named Tim O’Connor, and they owned Austin Music Hall, The Backyard, and La Zona Rosa. But like I said, that was a locally owned company.

Miles Bloxson So what does the Austin venue landscape look like now in 2024, 20 years later?

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, there are still a lot of independently owned venues. Like a lot like you never really know how many until you make a spreadsheet of them all.

Miles Bloxson I, I still can’t believe you made a spreadsheet with all of this information, but at the same time, I can’t be surprised about this.

Elizabeth McQueen I mean, I love a good spreadsheet. What can I say? And there are so many places to play music here. Like there’s venues, and then you get into nontraditional music venues like restaurants and grocery stores. One thing we found is that a lot of breweries have popped up in the last 20 years. Most of them have a public taproom, and a lot of them have live music. And there are so many. I feel like that’s its own story for sure. Yeah, but you know what? Interestingly, most of them are locally owned, but a lot of the larger rooms in Austin are now owned by companies that aren’t from Austin. Scoot in holds 800 people. IMO’s holds around 1600 people. Stubb’s holds like 2500 people. And they’re all owned by C3 Presents and Live Nation. And all of these venues existed in 2004.

Miles Bloxson Wow. That’s crazy. But were they owned by different local owners or.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, yeah they were.

Miles Bloxson So for people that don’t know Elizabeth, what is Live Nation or who is Live Nation?

Elizabeth McQueen So Live Nation is a big multinational corporation and they own a ton of venues here in the U.S. everything from big arenas and amphitheaters to theaters to clubs. They own the House of Blues franchise. They also own a bunch of festivals, including ACL Fest, Lollapalooza, and Rolling Loud, and they’re also in the artist management business. They own significant stakes in multiple management companies like Jay-Z’s ROC Nation. Mick Management, who represents Leon Bridges, Philly Mac that represents the Jonas Brothers. And the numbers that I’ve read are that through their subsidiaries, they manage around like 350 to 500 artists. They also own Ticketmaster and front gate tickets.

Miles Bloxson This is crazy, Elizabeth. Live nation owns a lot in the live music space.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, I mean, they own a lot, and some people think they own too much. The Justice Department and 30 states have filed an antitrust suit against Live Nation, saying they’ve created a monopoly.

Miles Bloxson So when did they, like, develop this huge presence in Austin?

Elizabeth McQueen So C3 presents was founded in 2007 by three guys named Charles Charles, a tall Charlie Jones and Charlie Walker.

Miles Bloxson Whoa. All of these? Charlie.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. This is Charles. A tall own. Charles a tall presents. They did club booking and artist management. He also was a part owner of Stubb’s since like, 1996.

Miles Bloxson We talked to Mel Price in our episode about ticketing. She actually created front gate tickets with Charles as Hall for stubs, and that’s a good episode if you haven’t listened to it already.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, it really is. Charlie Jones was a concert promoter and a partner in Capital Sports and Entertainment. They dreamed up ACL Fest and brought back Lollapalooza. Charlie Walker actually worked at Live Nation as president of their North American division, and he left Live Nation to be part of C3. So over the years, C3 became like the largest independent concert promoter in the world. They put on ACL Fest in Austin and Lollapalooza in Chicago, and they were starting to hold Lollapalooza in Central and South America, and they promoted like 800 live music shows a year. So in 2013, C3 bought emos, which was this iconic Austin venue that started on Red River. And then it moved to a couple different places. And then in 2014, Live Nation acquired a controlling interest in C3 presents. The festivals and emos were part of this acquisition. In 2017, C3 and Live Nation bought the scoot in and in 2021, Live Nation in C3 acquired Stubb’s, which Charles, a tall, was a part owner in, but which up to that point wasn’t actually owned by C3. So that’s how Live Nation became an owner of those Austin venues.

Miles Bloxson Wow, that is a lot. But what does that look like practically from a venue standpoint?

Elizabeth McQueen Well, we actually talked to Ryan Garrett, who’s worked at Stubb’s for over 24 years. He’s currently their general manager. He’s also a co-owner of a local venue called the 13th Floor. It’s on Red River, which is the same street that Stubb’s is on. And he told us that from his perspective, there weren’t significant changes after Live Nation bought Stubb’s.

Ryan Garrett My boss for the last 24 years has been Charles, a tall who founded Stubbs at 801 Red River. He also founded C3 presents, and that’s still true today. When I need something, you know, capital expense approval is required. I reach out to Charles directly. And it’s been accommodating. And that was the statement we had to advance. So Live Nation purchased Stubbs back in December of 21. And in advance of that. I had, a number of sit downs with Charles. What does it mean? What does it mean to staff members that have been here for two decades, plus 24 years here? Private events coordinator, 25 years. Pit boss, 25 years. Restaurant managers, 18 years. Plus, we’ve got a family environment down there. And I literally I’m not saying that to sound cheesy. I literally mean, we’ve been together for half of our life and there’s there’s a lot of love there. We care for each other. And and. Stubbs before Live Nation was extending health care benefits and for one k opportunities and those kinds of things which can be rare in our industry. And in discussion with Charles, he he made a promise and he made a statement that it’s going to be the same. Just talk to me when you need something. And it’s been that way from December of 21 to today. There’s some operational, you know, protocols that have been modified to some degree, yes. But generally we’re the same venue, we’re booking the same shows. And Live Nation’s return on investment through Stubbs is booking more shows. Keep these, you know, local employees moving forward and paying bills and doing what they do for for the last two plus decades. So it’s it’s been good for us, you know, and I’ll state around us and I’m an advocate for it. I do work for Live Nation, but I love locally owned and operated business. I’m a partner in a locally owned and operated down the street at 13th floor, and Jake and Nick and Ned Stuart that played drums for years and Grand Champion. Those are my partners in that. And years and years ago, when Birdland was closed up and sat there dormant for six, eight months, then I looked at each other and we’re like, we gotta do something. So we bought it and we brought on a couple of partners open 13th floor and it’s been great. I look at John to lease him. He’s a brother of mine. I love that guy, you know, and Seth across the street at Valhalla and on and on it goes. Barb’s down the street and chess club and McNealy and all those cats. We wouldn’t be where we are today without people like that around us in those businesses. And I’m proud to state to when Stubbs has an outdoor show, 2500 people. Those people are coming through that district, crossing the thresholds of those other venues and bars to discover new music and to have a cold beverage. It’s good for the the economy and the community as a whole. When you get that kind of crowd coming down, instead of staying in line, go down the block, see Seth, if I don’t have a cold beer, then come over at 8:00. It’s good for those businesses, for us to be there and to partner up. So you don’t work down there that long and not have those kinds of close relationships. And I love that neighborhood. I love those businesses and proud to be there.

Miles Bloxson That sounds good. But for some, Live Nation’s involvement in our scene isn’t always a great thing. I remember we spoke to the co-owner of the Far Out Lounge.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, we talked to Pedro Carvalho. He is a co-owner of the Far Out Lounge, which is a venue that is really far south. And he said it can be really hard for independent venues to compete with corporately owned venues.

Pedro Carvalho So the only outdoor venue in Austin that is comparable to, like a Stubb’s of Austin is the far out as far as size, but Stubb’s is Live Nation. Scootin is Live Nation having this space that can fit this many people in Austin, and I have the infrastructure to have these bigger shows. I can’t compete with Live Nation no matter what I do.

Miles Bloxson And Laurence Boone, who books the Far Out Lounge, put it like this.

Lawrence Boone You know, an independent venue simply cannot fight against Live Nation. If they want to get a show and they want to outbid us for it, they can do it all day long. They can do it. 365 they’ve got millions and millions and millions of dollars. So the concern is. Where do we fit in the global music industry fighting against a giant like that? What shows can we get? What bands can we get? Before they decide, no, I want that show. I like that band that’s going to be our band. So the concern is finding the events and shows that will fill up our space all year long. While knowing that there’s a company out there like that who can take all those shows if they wanted them. So fighting against someone that big as an independent venue’s always tough, and it seems like they’ve only gotten stronger since Covid. They bought more venues, they’ve got more power that they didn’t really need to begin with. So.

Elizabeth McQueen We did reach out to C3 presents for this story, but they couldn’t find somebody to talk to us.

Miles Bloxson Coming up after the break, we look at other Austin venues that are owned, are run by National, are multinational corporations.

Elizabeth McQueen Welcome back to Paws Play, a podcast about live music, why it matters, and what comes next. In this episode, we’re looking at how national and multinational corporations have entered into Austin’s venue landscape.

Miles Bloxson So we talked about Scootin and Stubb’s and IMO’s. But are those the only venues owned by big corporations?

Elizabeth McQueen Well, there’s also the Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park. It has a capacity of 5000 people, and technically it’s owned through this partnership between the City of Austin and the Waterloo Conservancy. But it’s operated by C3 Presents and Live Nation.

Miles Bloxson So is Live Nation the only big corporation that owns venues in town?

Elizabeth McQueen Actually, no ACL live at the Moody Theater opened in 2011 and holds about 2700 people in 2022. Austin based Stratus Properties sold it to Ryman Hospitality Properties, the group that owns the Grand Ole Opry. They also own 310 Austin, and that venue holds about 350 people. And then there’s the Germania Amphitheater out at circuit of the Americas. It holds around 14,000 people. It is owned by circuit of the Americas LLC, which is local, but it’s booked by Live Nation. And then there’s the Moody Center.

Miles Bloxson Yep, I’ve been there. I saw Justin Bieber, Janet Jackson, Ludacris, and I’m going to see Johnny Iko there next month.

Elizabeth McQueen I mean, it is a nice place.

Miles Bloxson It is. Yeah. And it replaced the Erwin Center to the scene of all of my childhood memories. Elizabeth, the first time I ever saw Janet Jackson was actually there. I think I saw M.C. hammer there.

Elizabeth McQueen Oh my gosh. Well, the Erwin Center used to be one of the biggest venues in Austin. It held almost 17,000 people, and it was owned and operated by the University of Texas at Austin. And it was run by a guy named John Graham for 28 years until 2017. And he was like a University of Texas employee.

Miles Bloxson That sounds so crazy to me that there was a UT employee responsible for booking not only UC basketball games, but major concerts and everything else in between. That’s like a big role.

Elizabeth McQueen I mean, yeah, he had a big team working with him, but yeah, right. So as you know, the Erwin Center is no more. It’s been torn down. And I know we all watched it be torn down like in stages. But it’s been replaced with the new Moody Center. And the Moody Center holds around 15,000 people. So it’s basically the same size as the Erwin Center. And it was built through a partnership between Oak View Group, Live Nation C3 presents, the University of Texas at Austin, and Matthew McConaughey.

Miles Bloxson Okay, first of all, what Matthew McConaughey. Elizabeth, please explain.

Elizabeth McQueen I actually can’t explain the Matthew McConaughey part, but I did do some research into Oak View Group. I really hadn’t heard of them before. So Oak View Group has interests in a bunch of theaters and convention centers and stadiums and arenas and fairgrounds. And one of the founders is Irving Azoff, who is the legendary manager of the Eagles and Van Halen. And he’s also the chairman of Full Stop Management, which he founded with his son Jeffrey. Full Stop Management manages acts like Cardi B and Harry styles. He was also once the CEO of Ticketmaster and Oak View Group owns Pollstar.

Miles Bloxson I feel like I’ve totally heard the name before, but what is Pollstar?

Elizabeth McQueen It’s an online music publication about the live music industry.

Miles Bloxson So it’s like all interconnected or something.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, I mean, and a lot of the upper management of the Moody Center works for Oakview Group, and the venue is ticketed through Ticketmaster, and Live Nation brings a bunch of shows to Moody Center, though the venue is not exclusive to Live Nation.

Miles Bloxson All right, I’m going to be honest with you here. I have always wondered about who owns the Moody Center, but why should we all really care?

Elizabeth McQueen Well, Miles, you’re a native Austin night, and when we’ve been talking about this episode, you’ve always talked about how growing up, major acts never came through town, right?

Miles Bloxson Yeah. And it was kind of frustrating. And maybe not never, because I saw a few amazing acts growing up. But sometimes we had to travel to see the really good stuff.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, well, I wanted to confirm what you told me, so I went back and I looked at the top ten highest grossing tours of 2004, according to Entertainment Weekly. And of those top ten tours, only three came through Austin. Now, I checked in three of the artists that didn’t come through Austin in 2004 did come through Austin during that decade, so Shania Twain, Sting, and Kenny Chesney all played the Irwin Center sometime in the 2000. So artists would come through Austin. But like you said, Miles, not a lot.

Miles Bloxson So I wasn’t over exaggerating. I’m proud of myself.

Elizabeth McQueen You know, you were not overexaggerating. But things have changed over time, especially with the advent of like, Austin City Limits Music Festival, which brought big acts to town. I mean, it draws like 450,000. People a year. But Moody Center, which is interconnected with Live Nation and Oak View Group, is bringing these bigger acts to Austin all the time now. Like think Harry styles coming to Moody Center for five nights in 2022, or Madonna doing two nights at the Moody Center this year. And just so you know, both shows were presented by Live Nation. And check this out. Madonna was the top grossing tour of 2004, and that year she didn’t even come to Texas, much less Austin.

Miles Bloxson Really?

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. But when you look at the biggest tours of this year Madonna, Olivia Rodrigo, Bad Bunny, Nicki Minaj, Mitski, they’re all coming to Austin and they’re all playing the Moody Center. And that’s good news. If you’re an Austin Knight who wants to see, like, a big, hot mainstream act. But in the latest episode where we talked about out of control ticket prices, one thing that we didn’t get into, but that you bring up a bunch miles, is that people only have so much money.

Miles Bloxson Yeah, this kind of thing makes me happy and sad, right? I’m happy because we’re getting all these mainstream acts, but I’m sad because I feel like that can also affect us going to like, live local shows. Say, for instance, Kendrick Lamar comes here. I spent $300 to see him play. Then that takes away from maybe like $3,010 shows that I could have seen, you know, hosted by like a local artist or something like that.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. And Maggie Lee from Cheer Up Charlie’s a avenue here in Austin, agreed that the ability to have access to big national shows can be detrimental to local venues.

Maggie Lea The economy is already kind of not great. There’s a recession there. Like, if I have this much money, where do I allocate it? And yes, if they’re going to a more publicized, larger national band playing at a big corporate owned venue, they’re spending all their money there in one night, and they aren’t putting that back into the local ecosystem for like smaller clubs and venues. I mean, it’s crazy because we like a really popular place, like we are, you know, always nominated for all these awards and stuff. And it’s just really interesting to see, like the it’s not translating anymore like it used to in the foot traffic. So yeah, it is a struggle. I’m not going to lie. We don’t have like investment backing or other partnerships. It’s just Tamara and I. So like we’re constantly trying to source grants, but you know, even the city grants, it takes months and months. And, yeah, we try to have programing that is unique and special that like, is directly connected to the community and to to music community, art community, and, you know, our queer community. But yeah, it’s it’s really hard to keep dipping from your own, you know, pool of friends and clientele and also LGBTQ community because it’s we need that like support from our allyship and just folks in the city like a a wider array of support.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. I mean, Miles, people only have so much money, like you said. And these tickets can be so expensive. Like usher is coming to the Moody Center in October.

Miles Bloxson Believe me, Elizabeth, I know my mom wants tickets and she won’t stop asking me for them.

Elizabeth McQueen Well, let her know that floor seats close to the stage will cost her over $850 per ticket.

Miles Bloxson Again for.

Elizabeth McQueen Taxes and fees.

Miles Bloxson I cannot.

Elizabeth McQueen But Ryan Garrett, who we heard from earlier, he’s the general manager at Stubb’s and he’s also co-owner of the 13th Floor, says he’s struck by how little people want to pay to see local bands, even though there are a lot of pressures on venues.

Ryan Garrett We’re seeing hikes in insurance, we’re seeing hikes in rent, we’re seeing hikes in utilities, you know, and you guys see it. You talked about a $10 cover charge. We should be charging 15 bucks these days. We were charging ten bucks ten years ago 15 years ago. That price has to go up. And is somebody who worked the door when we first pivoted at 711, Red River, people are balking at five bucks to come discover a new band. I’m not paying five bucks. And they move on down the road. They go to sixth Street or wherever, and they’ll spend, you know, 12 bucks on a cocktail. And I’m offering you three local bands here for five bucks. Is that going to hurt you? You know, so, I would advocate, you know, again, is is the little room. It’s hard to survive. It’s hard to do that, you know. Do I recognize that Stubb’s is host names like James Brown and Iggy Pop and and Metallica and on and on. Absolutely. And we’re proud of that. Right. Those tickets expensive? Sure they are. But I hope there’s there’s room in this local economy for both to sustain and survive and as, as an advocate for a little room. It’s tough. It’s hard out there right now.

Miles Bloxson In some ways, the fact that we didn’t have a lot of big acts come through Austin may have been like one of the many factors that have led us to having this thriving local music scene. We had to create our own fun.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. But, you know, our music scene is growing and evolving. And as James Moody, who owns Mohawk, a music venue on Red River, pointed out, there’s a reason that people might lean into more corporate involvement in the scene.

James Moody One thing that was really interesting about the time you’re talking about is that Austin was purposely known for not entertaining the big artists, and that’s what we loved about the city. But there’s an economy to those big artists that are super attractive to people that are in the industry. And frankly, the the the money becomes less predictable the smaller you go. And so as you get older, you want predictable economies of anything that you do. So the young upstarts that are in the business, they just wanted, you know, cool shows and memories and. And then as you get older in the industry, you want predictability and you want to understand margin. And so there’s this push pull of like. The hard and soft sides of the music business. It is very difficult to make money and especially for the small artist and the small venue, very unpredictable because a draw, the predictability of draw is very data. Oriented because the bigger you get, the more often you play. They can run those ticket numbers and kind of tell you what draw is going to be. And then you can organize your business around understanding and predicting draw. You can’t do that when there’s no draw history, when you’re discovering bands, exposing bands, which is the world that I’ve been in for a long time.

Elizabeth McQueen And James pointed out the corporations that have interests in different parts of the music industry, well, it helps them mitigate risk. And this is him talking about Live Nation.

James Moody Their relationship with things like Ticketmaster and Front Gate tickets helps, you know, even more. So it’s like the data side of the business mixed with the artist side and management side. And then festival side helps you get a, you know, much more firm grip on what is a pretty risky business. And industry. And so Austin’s interesting because we always operated all of us in the riskier side in, in the less predictable side from Continental Club. You know, on everyone was sort of rolling the dice on their knowledge of the industry and their understanding of the kids in the scene. You know, it’s different.

Elizabeth McQueen And the different ways that businesses assess risk can lead them to have different measures of success and influence what kind of artist they book.

Graham Williams You know, a smaller business with a smaller team, a nice medium sized show is a success to them.

Elizabeth McQueen This is Graham Williams, an independent promoter here in Austin who’s been booking shows since the 90s.

Graham Williams But if you’re a much larger company and you’re, you know, you’re shooting for 5 to 10,000 person shows, a thousand person show is a failure. Even if it’s not a failure, it’s not necessarily a big success story for them. So a lot of the kind of smaller, up and coming artists get overlooked by a lot of the bigger companies and bigger rooms. The more you have that happening, the less we’re able to develop artists. I mean, the first Billie Eilish show here was Mohawk’s Small Room in 150 cap. Everyone play somewhere in the beginning, and if no one’s putting on their shows or no one’s opening rooms for those artists and helping develop them, they’re never going to make it to that next level up and get to that place where they can make a sustainable, you know, life for themselves, playing music and creating art. Fans will get a chance to hear different new genres. Yeah. So it’s super important to me that, you know, we’ve got a lot of independent businesses, you know, from bottom all the way up.

Elizabeth McQueen Interestingly, Myles, one thing I learned is that the culture around music that we’ve created in Austin, when that came out of this scene full of independent venues that took risks, it’s made Austin really hospitable not just to small bands and developing bands here in town, but also to small and mid-level bands like in general. Here’s Graham again.

Graham Williams I’d say bands at like a club level and club being anywhere from a place that has 100 to 200 people to, you know, a thousand or so people. I think, venues that are that size Austin has like a stronger market for most of those artists, not all across the board. It’s, you know, but rule of thumb would be Austin compared to Dallas, San Antonio, Houston. For some reason, we tend to sell better for artists of that size. We put on shows all over the state, and I’m friends with all the promoters and club owners all over the state. They’ll all say the same thing. But like, yeah, most of our artists sell better in Austin than they do in Houston and Dallas and San Antonio. Culturally in Austin, music and going to see music is such a big part of everybody’s lifestyle and life.

Elizabeth McQueen I just found that so interesting. And like Graham’s right, music is a huge part of the culture here in Austin, and it has been for such a long time. And for me, I’ve had this vision of what Austin’s venue scene is, and it’s rooted in my understanding from what I got here in 2004. Right. Making this episode really helped me understand what it is now, and we talk all the time about our live music ecosystem. And now I think, like we have this new element that wasn’t there before, which is involvement from these global companies that have so much power and money and have a direct impact on our music ecosystem.

Miles Bloxson Yeah, I mean, that’s what I worry about as a native. Austin, like, this is kind of sad, like I said earlier, because I feel like these larger companies are taking over our unique, eclectic scene. And, you know, our local business owners are struggling as a result of it. I mean, the positive part about it is that we get to see these major acts, and I’ve always wanted these major acts to come through Austin, so it’s wonderful that they’re finally doing so. But what are we sacrificing to do?

Elizabeth McQueen So and I mean, I think we as a city want to keep our independent venues thriving even as we have these big corporations like in Austin. And so I wondered how we can do that. So I reached out to Cody Cowan. He used to be the executive director of the Red River Merchants Association, and now he’s the chief operating officer of the National Independent Venue Association. He’s also an Austin Knight who’s been here a long time. And I asked him, you know, how can we support our independent venues with this new pressure? And here’s what he said.

Cody Cowan So the question is, what can we do as a city to make sure independent venues get supported with the growth of multinational music corporations in town? There’s a lot of things we can do to fans. Know that all good things must come to an end if we don’t support them. Purchase tickets for local live performances by artists merch. Grab something to eat or drink at the bar. Tip your bartenders and servers. This is how we support our independent, local live entertainment to the city. Quote live music capital of the world only works if there is actual support for that live music. Support additional funding for local artists, venues, promoters and festivals, as well as for those support organizations like the Red River Cultural District. And please remove barriers for entry for these grassroots small businesses like unnecessary bureaucracy and any issues that may arise with the regulatory environment. Lastly, but not least to venues and artists. Lean into the new Austin reality. We need each other now more than ever. We have to build better trust and stronger relationship with one another. We have to quickly professionalized to compete with our changing landscape. We have to meet new audiences where they are today, not in the past. And we must continue to find co-operative new ways to survive. Know that we are all in this together and we’ll make it work by working this one. Those are my thoughts.

Miles Bloxson Pause play is a production of CT and CT Studios. It is reported produce and hosted by me, Myles Bloxham.

Elizabeth McQueen And me, Elizabeth McQueen. Our executive producer is Matt Riley.

Miles Bloxson Sarah Kenney helped write and edit this episode. Rene Chavez also helped with editing and audio production. Stephanie Federico is our digital editor. Michael Manasi is our multimedia editor.

Elizabeth McQueen Special thanks to Todd Calahan and Peter Babb for their technical support and guidance.

Miles Bloxson Original music for this episode was created by the talented Jaron Marshall.

Elizabeth McQueen Other music provided by the talented Jack Anderson and APM.

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.


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LGBTQIA+ members of Austin’s music scene talk about how proposed bans on drag performances, and laws outlawing gender-affirming care for minors are impacting their work and their lives. You’ll hear from co-owner of Cheer Up Charlies Maggie Lea. Plus you’ll hear from Austin musicians Caleb de Casper, Lizzy Lehman, Pelvis Wrestley’s Jammy Violet, and writer/musician […]


May 15, 2024

Peace, Love, and Texas Women: Women in Austin music reflect on the Texas abortion ban

Women from the Austin music scene talk about how the Texas abortion ban is impacting their lives.


May 1, 2024

How is climate change impacting Austin’s live music scene?

In the latest episode of Pause/Play, you’ll hear from musicians, venue owners and fans about how climate change is affecting Austin’s Music Scene.  We also talk to weatherman David Yeomans and neuropsychotherapist Bella Rockman.


April 17, 2024

How are global and local changes impacting the Austin Music Scene?

In the first episode of Season 5, hosts Miles Bloxson and Elizabeth McQueen look at how COVID has shifted some people’s relationship with live music, plus they give you a season overview.


April 5, 2024

Pause/Play Season 5 Trailer

The new season of Pause/Play starts April 17th. This season is all about change. We’ll be looking at the impact that climate change, changes in laws, changes in ticketing, changes in venues, changes in tech, and more are having on the Austin music scene.