Attention Austin musicians! Lyft has a new initiative to keep you rocking your way through the new year.
Popular ride-share app Lyft announced its plans to kick off 2018 with the "Austin Musician Rideshare Program," which will provide local musicians free rides to and from their gigs.
The new initiative launched with the start of the new year during Red River District's Free Week, a celebration that honors local bands and offers free shows at different venues all across Austin. The event lasts from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7. The current program is a six-month long pilot, but Lyft hopes to continue to work with local venues to expand the program.
But Lyft isn't doing it alone. The transportation network company is partnering with local Austin music venues such as Empire Control Room, Antone's, Stubb's, Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies and Barracuda in order to create an environment for local musicians to flourish.
"We didn't extend one or two Lyft Codes to each party -- they got four or five Lyft Codes to utilize throughout town," added Ryan Garrett, the general manager at Stubb's BBQ.
“Music is the heart and soul of Austin," said Aaron Fox, general manager at Lyft Austin. "From standing Tuesday night gigs to sold-out stadium tours, Austin has it all. Lyft is committed to supporting Austin’s local musicians as they pursue their dreams by ensuring their transportation is enabling their success, not hindering it.”
"Every dollar counts. It's from everything to rent and food to the the things that you listed, equipment, and marketing, management," said Will Lindow, the marketing manager at Lyft Austin.
Lindow moved to Austin in 1999 to study and play music. He's played many of the local venues now set to participate in the program.
"When I started working at Lyft, I knew I wanted to commit time and funds and programming to help the music community here in Austin," said Lindow.
Stephen Sternschein, owner of Empire Control Room, said the program solves a problem he sees among Austin musicians.
"It's expensive and difficult to park downtown, even harder for a working musician lugging gear," he said. "Parking tickets, towing and accidents can (and do) eat up every dollar a local musician just made on stage. We ought to do everything we can to fix this.”
Sternschein hopes the program will also enhance safety measures on the road, preventing drinking and driving as well as overly tired drivers.
"If logistics and finance are the first two (components), safety is definitely the third really important reason why a program like this is such a good idea," Sternschein explained.
On March 8, a day before SXSW kicked off, Lyft announced an expansion of the pilot program with the addition of three more venue partners: Saxon Pub, The ABGB and Electric Church.
“This expansion is reflective of the geographic diversity in Austin’s music scene and includes venues outside of the downtown area,” said Aaron Fox, general manager for Lyft Austin. “Lyft is excited to grow in its commitment to help foster an environment in which musicians and the entire local Austin music industry can flourish.”
To participate in the program, download the Lyft app and use the code ATXMUSIC for $5 off your first three rides. Lyft will then add $5 to the Musician Rideshare Program fund.