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How do you define a music venue? Music Commission has recommendations

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Could creating a new city land designation for “live music venue” make performance spaces more appealing to community groups wary of a new bar or nightclub in their neighborhoods?

At a scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, the Austin Music Commission unanimously approved a resolution to recommend creating a new land designation for “live music venue”  in the final version of CodeNext, the overhaul of the city’s land development regulations, that has been winding through City Hall for over four years.

RELATED: CodeNext draft delayed at least two months

At the meeting, Brian Block from the city’s music office described the new designation as “ a tool to allow live music venues in as many locations and districts as possible.”

Under current city code, venues are designated as a “bar/nightclub.” Block said that in discussions with neighborhood associations, his office found many groups averse to the idea of a new bar in their part of town had less reservations about a live music venue. 

The music office has been working with the Austin Music Venue Alliance to create a working definition of what constitutes a live music venue. Here is the working definition that was provided at the meeting Monday:

LIVE MUSIC VENUE. An establishment where live music programming is the principal function of the business and/or the business is a live music destination, and where the venue clearly establishes the ability of an artist to receive payment for work by percentage of sales, guarantee or other mutually beneficial formal agreement for every performance.

A live music venue is a destination for live music consumers, and its music programming is the primary driver of its business as indicated by the presence of at least five (5) of the following:

a) Defined performance and audience space;

b) Mixing desk, PA system, and lighting rig;

c) Back line;

d) At least two of the following: sound engineer, booker, promoter, stage manager, security personnel;

e) Applies cover charge to some music performance through ticketing or front door entrance fee;

f) Marketing of specific acts through show listings in printed and electronic publications;

g) Hours of operation coincide with performance times;

h) Programs live music at least five nights a week;

The Austin Music Commission is a citizen-led group that advises City Council. The Music Commission’s recommendation will be delivered to Council to consider as they deliberate and vote on adopting CodeNext.