Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Why Didn't the Wall Street Journal Give Taxpayers Some Props for Subsidizing Music Industry Growth?

A November WSJ article on Nashville's music industry in the wake of the CMA Awards in browned out Downtown Nashville makes it sound like the Country Music Association is solely responsible for making the country genre as phenomenally popular as it is today. WSJ writer Barry Mazor makes it sound like CMA is practically giving away money to promote the cause.

But what Mr. Mazor did not do is follow the money to see where CMA's annual profits come from. I wonder how much the local hotel occupancy tax has subsidized the efforts of the trade group, which I would bet also functions as a lobby group to leverage favorable government treatment. Metro started collecting hotel taxes in 1976, just 4 years after the launching of Fan Fair, which eventually became the CMA Music Festival. I don't know when Metro would have started using those revenues to subsidize the music festival, but extrapolation from last year's FY numbers indicates a huge public endowment to the music industry.

According to a June audit, Metro collected $27.7 million in hotel taxes from July 2007 to March 2008. According to the Nashville City Paper, 30 percent of hotel tax revenues go to the music festival. If these reports are correct, then $8 million passed from taxpayers to the music festival for just one nine month period. If taxpayers have been giving such large percentages of hotel revenues to the music festival for the last 30 years, then don't they deserve some media credit and billing for bankrolling the music industry's promotional efforts? CMA is not the only group of people literally giving money away to promote the music industry. In fact, Metro may have made CMA's donations to area music education efforts feasible.

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