As the saying goes – everything’s bigger in Texas! With a population exceeding 26 million, it’s home to 12% of the US population. The Lone Star State’s footprint alone covers 269,000 square miles. It is 10% larger than France and twice as large as Germany or Japan. The state boasts 3 of the 9 most populated cities in the country with Houston in 4th place, San Antonio in 7th, and Dallas in 9th. Geographically speaking, you could unequivocally say it’s BIGGER than most other states.
But how does the live music industry in Texas measure up? Well in 1985 the Texas Music Commission (TMC) was created by the 70th session of the Texas Legislature and identified music as an industry in need of state government recognition and assistance. The TMO (Texas Music Office) opened on January 15, 1990 and serves as the information clearinghouse and promotion office for the Texas Music Industry. Today the TMO database contains well over 6,000 bands of all musical genres and sizes that are based in the state.
And on that note, its capital city of Austin is now recognized internationally as the live music capital of the world due to its large number of live music venues. The city easily plays host to over 100 live musical performances nightly. So what spurred the development and growth of the music industry in Texas? For one, the state has a rich (though pretty underrated) background and proud heritage in the Blues genre from residents that have included Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddie King, Big Mama Thornton, Leadbelly, and Mance Lipscomb. And more recently Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, and Houston’s favorite son, Billy Gibbons. In other genres we’ve seen the likes of Don Henley, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Beyonce, Don Williams, Pat Green, Buddy Holly, Eric Johnson, Waylon Jennings, and Selena each rise up from the Texas music scene and blow up on a national level. As a result of many of these players’ affection for the guitar, in 1997 it was designated the official state instrument.
So how and where does the current crop of musicians make a living in the state and who books them? For starters, Texans avidly support their musicians by attending both original and cover band performances by Texas Country and classic country bands that play in several thousand honky tonks, dancehalls and nightclubs scattered all over the state. Playing this network is unique to the state and is fodder for another blog article on another day. Suffice it to say many of the successful bands are making a good living playing the circuit year in and year out, while newbies strive to succeed beyond breaking even. As with most things persistence has paid off for many!
Texas also is one of the top three states that host the largest number of festivals and fairs in the nation partially due to its moderate climate and reasonable amount of rainfall. Most of these outdoor events book local, regional and national recording artists to attract attendees. Texas ranks Number 1 in the number of music festivals it hosts – overthrowing California despite having 17 million fewer people. These events are great for the exposure they provide bands even in some cases when the pay may not be as lucrative.
Beyond the dance halls and festivals though is a big market for both weddings and corporate events throughout the state. Last year alone, there were over 180,000 couples who tied the knot from Brownsville to Amarillo and Pecos to Beaumont! Weddings abound in the state and the better known variety bands get plenty of work on wedding receptions that typically pay on average between $2500 to $15,000+. For the lower budgets there are many DJs available in every market who can provide pre-recorded music as a less expensive alternative for those “BIG events” working with smaller budgets.
Perhaps the healthiest segment of the Texas musical gig landscape is the thousands of corporate functions that hire variety, Country, Jazz, R&B, Tribute, Latin, Big Bands, Mariachi Bands, and Show Bands to entertain employees, customers, and clients. While Texas has upwards of 50 Fortune 500 companies residing in the state, Houston is 2nd only to New York City with 23 Fortune 500 firms and Dallas ranks 4th in the nation with 9. Many of these corporations host special events throughout the year and close it out with high-end Holiday and New Year’s Eve Parties that provide Texas bands with some of their biggest paydays.
So while the physical size of a band varies in Texas, it’s clear that the musical landscape for bands playing in the Lone Star State is vibrant, competitive and BIGGER than most of the other states in many ways and Prime Source Entertainment has seen this as potentially fertile ground to make its mark on the Texas music scene with its new office in Sugar Land and help take its bands to the next level while bringing in new and diverse musical offerings from other states whose music Texans can now enjoy through its efforts!