Even in the Live Music Capital of the World, it’s tough to make a living as a musician. From poor pay to middling tips to late hours, succeeding in the Austin music scene requires patience, persistence, and a little luck. Unfortunately, the music isn’t always enough.
Enter Austin Music Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to bolstering our creative community through artist-empowering programs, education, and economic opportunities. With the organization’s newest venture, the Artist Development Program, Austin Music Foundation aims to educate Austin artists on how to navigate the tricky world of the music industry.
Learning a Crazy Industry
Ever since Austin Music Foundation came onto the scene in 2002, the focus has been on equipping musicians with the tools they need to be successful on the business side of making music. The Music Industry Collaborative program focuses on connecting active entrepreneurs in the music business with mentors, while The Leaders in Austin Music program provides extensive leadership training.
These initiatives were created to keep the Austin music scene not just alive, but healthy and vibrant. But after extensive research, Austin Music Foundation felt a further step was needed.
“We came to the realization that, after consulting with hundreds of local musicians over the past several years, AMF needed to take a more targeted and impact-driven approach to artist development,” shared Austin Music Foundation’s Board of Directors President, Danny Gillespie, and Programs Director, Jennifer Dugas.
“The next phase was to design a new program that would give AMF a platform to establish a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, and it would also allow us to dig deeper by bringing focused, hands-on guidance and tangible opportunities to a small group of artists who are on the cusp of reaching that next level in their careers.”
Austin Music Foundation’s Artist Development Program
That next step is the Artist Development Program. This free resource takes a select group of promising Austin musicians through a seven-month course, equipping them to take the next step in their careers. From advanced level business education to industry mentoring, the Artist Development Program gives participants a tailored toolbox designed to send their careers skyrocketing.
According to folk singer and songwriter James Junius, a member of the inaugural class, the experience has been nothing short of outstanding.
“The entire Austin Music Foundation team have been incredible leaders, mentors, and friends in the short time that I’ve known them,” shared Junius. “I wouldn’t know what I would be doing without the professional development, networking opportunities, and guidance they have selflessly given.”
The rest of the artists involved in this year’s inaugural program are:
- 60’s style soul/pop singer Charlie Faye
- Austin’s reigning queen of Latin soul Gina Chavez
- Guitar virtuoso Jackie Venson
- Heartfelt country/rock crooner Jane Ellen Bryant
- Hip hop group Magna Carda
- Indie chill band Migrant Kids
This crop of talented artists are receiving an incredible music business education thanks to the hard work and generosity of Austin Music Foundation sponsors and partners. Despite already making a name for herself in the ATX music scene, Jackie Venson is grateful for the opportunity:
“Between the support and advice from the industry veterans and the sessions where we learn about crucial business and career tactics, I can’t think of any other music city that offers a similar program,” shared Venson. “I’m honored to have been selected.”
Keeping Austin Music Alive and Viable
In a city as unique as Austin, it’s no surprise new standards are being set in promoting, encouraging, and educating local talent. While similar organizations exist around the country, Austin Music Foundation’s program stands apart as a true nonprofit.
“There are many private for-profit businesses that offer artist development services–some are reputable, some are not,” shared Gillespie and Dugas. “What sets AMF apart is that we have a vested interest in the sustainability and success of our artists. But because we don’t depend on them as a revenue source, they are able to work with trusted expert advisers while maintaining their autonomy and artistic integrity.”
Integrity is at the heart of what makes Austin Music Foundation’s Artist Development Program such an incredible opportunity for musicians ready to take the next step in their careers. Through education, mentoring, and good, old-fashioned TLC, Austin Music Foundation stands ready to keep Austin singing for years and years to come.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Which of Austin Music Foundation’s initial group of Artist Development Program musicians are you looking forward to seeing most?