AUSTIN — More than 200 live shows throughout Austin each help raise money for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.
For this year’s 13th Annual HAAM Day, the organization surpassed its goal of raising $565,000 to continue providing medical, dental, vision, hearing, and mental health services, for Austin's working musicians.
"Austin is home to 8,000 working musicians and it's really hard to make a living as a creative person and as an artist, especially as a musician,” said Executive Director Reenie Collins. "Really, I think HAAM makes a big difference because it allows them to stay in a city like this.”
Johnny Goudie has been making music for more than 35 years.
"They'll sacrifice going to see a doctor to buy a guitar pedal or to make rent or something,” said Goudie.
He said access to HAAM’s services gives him comfort.
"Getting insurance on your own is virtually impossible, especially with the cost of living and how much it has gone up here. Rent has gone up so much. HAAM is there to sort of like help keep the musicians in business and keep them alive," said Goudie.
Sydney Wright had to utilize HAAM's services this summer.
"I got hit in a crosswalk, and then he drove away,” said Wright.
Wright said HAAM immediately stepped in.
"They alleviated a lot of the just question marks of the situation,” said Wright.
Collins said they're able to turn every $1 donated into $7 of direct healthcare services.
"This day is really important to us because it helps us keep our doors open and helps us keep doing all those things we do for musicians,” said Collins.
According to Collins, with healthcare costs going up and pay for musicians stuck close to what it was 10 years ago, more and more artists are joining.
“None of my friends are playing million-dollar shows yet, so we need help and it's important," said Wright.
Last year membership grew 25 percent and in the past 2 years, it has gone up 36 percent. They now have more than 2,600 members.
"HAAM has continued to grow, we have really significant growth,” said Collins.
"With the expansion of the program, they've had to raise money to take care of everyone,” said Goudie.
That growth almost forced Collins to cap enrollment last summer, but the fundraising on HAAM Day helped prevent that by allowing them to continue to help the artists of the Live Music Capital of the World.
"We need to keep live music live with live musicians, so we want to keep them well and healthy,” said Collins.
At an event shortly before Weekend 1 of the ACL Festival kicked off, HAAM announced to its dedicated sponsors, volunteers and musicians that it exceeded its $565,000 goal.
If you are interested in donating to HAAM, visit their website here.