Texas has been known for its beckoning views, unique residents and strong musical traditions.
According to Austin City Connection, Austin was named the Live Music Capital of the World in 1991. Researchers found the city contained more live music venues per capita than Nashville, Memphis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York City. Austin hosts productions like South by Southwest, Austin City Limits and the Austin Reggae Festival. The music industry brings in millions of dollars annually to the Austin area, but it is not immune to the declining economy.
Twelve law students at the University of Texas run Property, Preservation and the Legacy of Texas Live Music, an organization assisting artists in their survival.
Professor Daniel Rodriguez supports the group, which offers research and support to community groups in the area who focus on assisting musicians. Joel C. Boehm, law student at the University of Texas, feels passionate about his participation in the organization and what he can do for the music industry.
“The University of Texas has an elite law school and the state of Texas, including a concentration in Austin, has an elite music community. It seems a natural marriage to use the resources of one to benefit the other,” Boehm said. “It fills a gap in the music community’s needs, at the same time giving students valuable experience.”
Lindsay Smith, law student at the University of Texas and member of the organization, is certain musicians are in need of their services.
“This region has a huge market for music that is under-funded in almost every aspect,” Smith said. “The music industry as a whole is in a critical state and a lot needs to be done on many levels. To be successful, it will require a very strategic organization.”
The City of Austin recognized this need and authorized a Live Music Task Force last year to address concerns. The group confronts issues and challenges facing members of the music community. Law students of the University of Texas hope to establish a clinic that would allow them to work one-on-one with musicians.
“Contracts many times go unread, rather than taking action to ensure an artist’s concerns are addressed and protected,” Smith said. “The group of musicians we would help does not have the income to seek legal assistance on these issues. We would be saving them money offering useful legal services at no cost.”
Nicole Bennett, pre-theater junior and lead singer of band When Pandas Attack, shares similar concerns.
“Free legal services would be a fantastic advantage for any band. There are many issues a band deals with that require legal counsel such as copyright laws, contracts with record companies or venues, as well as someone to nail out the legal details when you are traveling or interacting with fans,” Bennett said. “As a local artist and college student in a new band, it would be otherwise impossible to afford legal services.”
Smith said she wants Property, Preservation and the Legacy of Texas Live Music to be a lasting organization for musicians.
“Austin’s music scene is a gem in the city’s crown,” Smith said. “We hope to establish a permanent entertainment law clinic that would continue to offer free legal services to musicians.”