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Austin musicians discuss how the rising cost of living is impacting the Live Music Capital

Local musicians are what make Austin the Live Music Capitol, but many musicians are struggling to live here due to affordability issues.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but what happens when the people who make the music are struggling to afford to live here?

“If something is not done, we are absolutely going to lose an entire culture and that culture is going to be scattered out to San Marcos and Cedar Park and Leander, and Austin is going to be this place where only the big people and the big players play,” said Scott Strickland, a musician who has been bringing his Texas soul music to Austin since 2015.

Musicians who are both new to the scene and those who have played here for decades say it is getting harder and harder to be a musician in Austin due to affordability.

Strickland works hard to keep doing what he loves in a city that means so much to him, as it started his career as a musician.

“You can have a life as a musician in this town, you can totally have a career as an artist in this town,” said Strickland. “It’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of shoe leather, it’s a lot of sacrifice.”

But he said there are a lot of challenges musicians have faced, especially with the affordability issues on top of the pandemic.

“I’m still pulling levers, I am still having to tap resources I didn’t think I would have to tap, like savings and all that stuff. Like, the savings is almost gone, but I have faith things will turn around, for the better,” said Strickland.

Strickland also said he felt hopeful as he said it finally feels like things are getting back to normal in the Austin live music industry, after two years of the pandemic.

Patrick Buchta, who is the executive director of the Austin Texas Musicians nonprofit, helps advocate for policy changes that can help local musicians.

You know, I think often musicians are not seen as a workforce, and that's exactly what we are,” said Buchta.

Buchta said for Austin to continue to be the live music capital and to keep it’s character and magic, things need to change more quickly than they are.

“We're seeing so many of our musicians having to move out of the city,” explained Buchta. “And when that happens, what happens to the Live Music Capital of the World that brings so many businesses in because of that brand?”

But together, musicians like Buchta and Strickland are still pushing forward and helping each other, because they believe that, right now, Austin is still the best live music city.

“It is absolutely magic to me and I think it will continue to have that magic for at least a while. We will see what happens,” said Strickland.

Strickland said the best thing the community can do to help is to support musicians by attending shows by local musicians in town.

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