OPINION COLUMN: We need live music venue economic incentives | Opinion

We want our children, or in my case our grandchildren, to grow up and live close by.

For that, you need good job opportunities. For them to want to do it, you have to do something fun, two things.

Norman has a cool, funky vibe that most of us enjoy and is also characterized by being a college town. A constant influx of young people creates energy.

One thing that sets the Norman atmosphere apart is the live music. From singer-songwriters strumming guitars on stools to full-fledged bands, live music is fun.

One thing that has become clear after COVID is that live music venues have not recovered. Personally, I think people are getting out of the habit of going.

For years we’ve been told to stay home and watch Netflix.

I think people need to be socialized. I think people want socializing. we are social creatures.

But where do you go? Norman now has fewer live music options than it did pre-COVID. So how can I fix it?

Prime the pump.

I’ve been a small business owner for nearly 40 years, and one thing is certain.

Give your customers an incentive to walk in the door when business is slow.

In other words, if things need to be done, give people a reason why. Incentives work.

The brainchild of former City Councilman Bob “Midway” Thompson, the idea is to create an economic incentive fund to support live music at Norman’s smaller venues.

One of the problems local bars and restaurants have when it comes to providing live entertainment is that there are currently too few people to cover the cost. We cannot cover the minimum cost of a musician or band.

And there aren’t, and shouldn’t be, enough musicians willing to work for “tips” to fill available venues. No one should work for free.

The reason Norman’s live music scene is recovering and having trouble attracting audiences is believed to be the availability of live music hits and misses.

The predictable availability of live music helps restore the habit of going to see live music.

Live music culture is the establishment of a group of people who have the habit of asking for live music every weekend.

Patrons provide the cash flow that forms the economic bottom of a live music venue.

Regulars hopefully cover the venue owner’s expenses. And hopefully the influx of new customers will translate into profit for the night.

For example, if Norman has multiple venues offering music such as rock, country, Americana, jazz, hip-hop, and pop every Friday and Saturday night, residents may develop the habit of looking for live music every weekend. there will be

They may not know what they want at the beginning of the night, but by the end of the night they will. If you don’t like what’s happening in one place, move on to the next.

The beauty is knowing there are so many options available, so start your weekend by looking for live music. It becomes a habit.

There is another broader economic advantage. The city’s growing reputation for live music.

Its reputation grows over time and becomes an economic engine that attracts customers from surrounding towns.

It fills restaurants and hotels. It increases sales tax revenues that are used to provide essential services. Import money into town.

The beauty of planning is that it grows organically. It can occur anywhere in town. We don’t pick winners and losers.

Growth is grounded in entrepreneurial spirit and the work ethic of business owners, with a little priming of the pump from the city.

One of the keys to the success of incentives is that they are clearly understood, fair, and non-arbitrary. Equal opportunity for all. You can set the program like this.

what would that look like?

With live music venue incentive funds, venues receive a minimum guaranteed amount per musician (for example, $100). Therefore, her band of five members is guaranteed her $500.

That way, local bars and restaurants have an incentive to book musicians and bands. Each musician is happy to perform because he knows he will get paid.

The venue is full of enthusiasm. Musicians are highly motivated.

If a musician or band wants to charge more to play, that’s an issue between the musician and the venue.

At least all or part of the cost of providing live music will be offset by the Fund.

how do i pay? It’s a slight increase in Norman’s existing visitor tax.

This incentive fund needs seed money to get started and a revenue stream to sustain it.

The Norman City Council is currently discussing a possible vote to increase the visitor tax.

The beauty of the visitor tax, also known as the hotel/motel tax, is that it is primarily paid by out-of-towners for in-towners.

Part of this tax increase will go to the arts. This revenue stream can be used for live music, a very integral part of the arts, via live music venue incentive funds.

Our live music venues are currently struggling through no fault of their own.

To support the live music industry, we need to reach a critical mass of venues offering multiple genres of music in order to generate a critical mass of customers.

We need to bring back the live music culture.

Incentives work. there is no doubt.

I think Bob has a great idea.

We encourage you to ask city leaders to consider creating an economic incentive fund for live music venues.

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