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How can musicians earn a living in Austin? Talk about it at North Door event

Peter Blackstock
pblackstock@statesman.com

Austin songwriter Dana Falconberry will perform at a launch event for Musicians’ Living Wage on February 21 at North Door.

TINA PHAN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

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Launched by music production executives Brandon DeMaris of DeMaris Entertainment and Debbie Stanley of Thoughts in Order,

the event is designed to kickstart a conversation among industry and community members about ways to help Austin musicians

make a living at their craft. Panelists include Steve Begnoche of the local American Federation of Musicians chapter, longtime

local booking agent Nancy Coplin, Black Fret co-founder Colin Kendrick, Empire talent buyer Adrienne Lake, Omar Lozano of

the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Michael Mordecai of BBA Management & Booking, city of Austin economic development

consultant Peter Schwarz, and musicians Nakia Reynoso and SaulPaul.

The evening also will feature musical performances from Blxpltn, Dana Falconberry, Robert Rankin and Barfield. Proceeds from

$250 VIP sponsor tickets (including a table for two and pre-event meet-and-greet) will go to paying those performers; $25

general admission tickets also are available

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The launch event is “the beginning of a conversation,” Demaris says. “There will be events to come after this. Immediately

following this, we’ll be organizing focus groups to dial the conversation into different segments.”

The initial impetus for Musicians’ Living Wage was the findings of the 2015 census report, according to Stanley. “We want

to direct the focus toward how musicians can actually make a living with their music,” she says. “For this event, we want

to invite anyone who wants to have a voice.”

Musicians’ Living Wage is not a nonprofit, DeMaris notes. “There is no entity governing this, he says. “This is a public advocacy

movement, where anybody can join the equation. We are simply organizing conversations.”

Stanley says that in her experience, those who book music for private parties and corporate functions “want to do the right

thing. They want to pay musicians to perform. They understand  this is a skill that has taken time and money to develop and

is worth money. They are hungry for some sort of insight into what that payment should be.”

The ultimate goal, DeMaris says, is that “we don’t want to lose Austin musicians to the economy. We all have a lot of learning

and listening to do. That’s the starting point, and that’s really what this event is about.”

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