Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you know Georgia’s film and TV business is booming. Last fiscal year, there were more than 250 productions shot here, representing an economic impact of more than $6 billion.
It wasn’t that way five years ago. It started with a handful of film industry pioneers with a big idea back in 2005 who realized there was a big opportunity to bring this kind of business to Georgia. Now, not only is it driving a sector of our state’s economy, but it’s also putting the Georgia brand in homes, new media and theaters around the world through TV and movies.
But what about Georgia music? It’s one of Georgia’s greatest global assets.
From one of our first musical ambassadors, Ray Charles, who blended gospel, country and soul to create a new sound, to Sugarland and Janelle Monae performing at the Nobel Peace Prize Awards in Oslo Norway; acts from Macon, like the Allman Bros and Otis Redding, to Jesssye Norman and James Brown from Augusta, everyone knows our music. Artists like Zac Brown Band, Ludacris, Luke Bryan, Outkast, Jason Aldeen and the Indigo Girls reach a global audience live on world tours and online via digital global distribution platforms. Georgia music festivals, such as TomorrowWorld, A3C and the Savannah Music Festival, draw fans to Georgia from all over the world.
All good. But we can do better.
In 2011, B. William Riall conducted an economic impact study, commissioned by Georgia Music Partners , which determined the state’s music industry has an economic impact of $3.7 billion that generates more than $300 million in tax revenue for state and local governments and created nearly 20,000 direct and in-direct jobs, which resulted in more than $888 million in wages, salaries and benefits.
As the national music landscape has evolved, Georgians have remained at the forefront of creativity and innovation across diverse genres including gospel, blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, country, hip-hop, indie and Christian music. However, our fertile ground for songwriters, producers, musicians, etc., is no longer enough. Cities such as Nashville, Austin and New York have surpassed our entire state’s music impact. The reason is simple. These cities see a direct correlation between a growing economy and further development of their musical brand. Music matters in those cities and music matters in Georgia. But we’re falling behind.
Our industry and state government must more effectively link arms and re-establish the Georgia music brand. We need to advocate for more music education and specialized industry training. As with other entertainment industries in the state, we need to encourage practical business behavior that will secure the future of Georgia music.
As Georgia moves closer to becoming a creative powerhouse, there is a huge opportunity to leverage our diverse musical talent and our studio facilities (which already exist) with our homegrown resources (students being educated in post-secondary, state music programs). Imagine the growth potential of a concerted effort supporting the film, TV and video game industry to create more work in Georgia. We are in a keenly unique position to strategically grow the entertainment industry and to create additional jobs in Georgia for Georgians through music.
It is time.
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Tammy Hurt is co-president of Georgia Music Partners.