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'You've got to be able to hear the art.' HAAM helping local musicians' ears

The HEAR Clinic provides earplugs that would otherwise cost up to $1,000.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, or HAMM, office isn't usually jammed packed with musicians. However, on Tuesday, more than 130 musicians waited their turn to get screenings as part of the HEAR Clinic. 

Artists like Brett Rivera.

"I can hear some slight ringing right now," said the Immortal Guardian manager.

He needs a hearing test.

"You got to be able to hear the art that you're creating," said Rivera.

He's also getting fitted for custom earplugs, which help protect Rivera's hearing while still allowing him to listen for the nuances of his music.

Remember the ringing in his ears?


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Dr. Soriya Estes with Estes Audiology said it is the first sign of damage.

"And so we really need to be aware that once we come off set," she said. "If your ears are screaming at you, it means they're screaming, 'Help, protect me!'"

Rivera, who is also a songwriter, appreciates this clinic because, without it, the earplugs would cost him up to $1,000, instead of the $25 co-pay.

"Even though this is the 'Live Music Capital of the World,' it's not the 'Get Paid Being a Musician Capital of the World,' you still got to hustle, you still got to do a lot of work, you got to put in a lot of hours and hold multiple jobs," said Rivera.

Now, that money can go to his craft instead.

"That saved me hundreds of dollars, artists that I worked with hundreds of dollars, that's helped fund tours, helped fund records, that's helped fund getting a new guitar," said Rivera.

Preserving a culture and our right, sort of, to call Austin the Live Music Capital of the World.


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