Latest Austin news: Liquor tax cuts, curfew extension, park venues change

As a city whose economy thrives immensely from live music events, Austin is discussing several new laws to enhance the musical experience and protect the industry. Several proposals such as cutting liquor taxes, extending the Red River District curfew and moving big events to parks in East Austin are expected to augment the industry and preserve Austin’s title as the Live Music Capital of the World. 

These tweaks may seem small and insignificant, but they can make a huge impact on the music industry within the city and the artists will most certainly reap benefits from the changes.

Liquor tax cuts for music venues

As many local shows take place at bars and clubs, alcohol sales play a huge part in Austin’s music business model. Many times, performing artists are allotted a profit from the night’s bar tab, but skyrocketing liquor taxes can hinder their financial gain. According to an article by the Austin Monitor just last month, the Mohawk, one of Austin’s popular music venues in the Red River District, paid $8,071 in liquor taxes at a 6.7 precent rate. If that was cut to just 5 percent, it would reduce the club’s monthly tax bill by almost $2,000. The leftover revenue could therefore be used to improve the actual venues themselves or pay the artists more. As we see, just this small monetary tweak can seriously benefit many artists and local venues.

red river curfew extension

According to an article by Austin360, on Nov. 7, the Austin Music Commission recommended that the city extend curfew for music venues in the Red River Cultural District. Although other areas in Austin have the standardized 2 a.m. curfew, live outdoor music in the district must cease at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, 11p.m. on Thursday and midnight on Friday. These limited hours of operation means fewer bands are able to perform; by extending the curfew a couple more hours, two more bands might be able to squeeze into the show and gain the audience exposure they need to thrive.

popular events moved to different parks

Between ACL, Blues on the Green and several other infamous Austin music events, Zilker Park has its share of wear-and-tear and frustrating traffic congestion. The city has recommended moving these events to parks in East Austin, such as Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park and Onion Creek Memorial Park, in order to preserve Zilker’s natural beauty and spare the traffic annoyance for residents surrounding the park. This change will not only help diffuse traffic throughout the always-buzzing city, but it will create a refreshing new scene for many beloved Austin music festivals.

The buzz about these three shifts in Austin’s music industry is getting Austinites excited about live shows in the coming year. With 2017 just around the corner, we will see the fate of these new laws soon.

(Photo courtesy of austintexas.org)