Brooklyn Boro

For NYC, Music is Big Business: Commissioner Julie Menin introduces the new economic impact study at Brooklyn Bowl

April 24, 2017 By Andy P. Smith Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYC Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. Eagle photo by Andy Katz

On Monday morning, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce hosted a special neighborhood edition of Brooklyn Newsmakers event series welcoming Commissioner Julie Menin to Brooklyn Bowl. And really, what better venue in which to introduce an economic impact study of Music in New York City?

This study, conducted by Boston Consulting Group, is the first of its kind, and its results are staggering. In short, the music industry in NYC supports nearly 60,000 jobs, accounts for $5 billion in wages and generates $21 billion in total economic output for the city.

In 2015, NYC concert tickets accounted for $5.4 million, which is more than Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago combined. Furthermore, the study found that NYC is a hub for music tech, with more than 70 digital music startups, more than Los Angeles and San Francisco combined.

Formerly Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Julie Menin was appointed as Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in February 2016. Menin, who previously owned and operated the Lower Manhattan restaurant Vine, understands the plight of small business owners and hopes NYC can provide assistance and incentives for the music industry in the same ways the Made in NY program boosted the film and television industry in NYC and continues to do so.

Through the Made in NY Campus in Sunset Park, Mayor Bill de Blasio has allocated a city investment of $136 million that will create 1,500 permanent jobs. Additionally, NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has announced the country’s first publicly funded Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lab, fueled by $6 million in public and private funding.

Can the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment find a way to similarly boost and support NYC’s music industry? Now that it’s founded to generate a $21 billion output to the city, how can the city support growth, spur business and ensure music industry professionals can make a livable wage?

North Brooklyn has seen some interesting shifts in the musical landscape over the last few years, namely the loss of DIY all-ages venues like Death By Audio, Glasslands, and most recently Shea Stadium, not to mention the closures of seminal clubs like Zebulon and Verboten.

Paired with the recent acquisition of Bowery Presents by mega-corporation AEG as well as Live Nation’s purchase of Greenpoint’s historic Warsaw venue, it begs the question of how any small club or emerging musicians can thrive or even survive in North Brooklyn. My hope is that Menin and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment can help equal the playing field between these massive corporate venues and small, independent clubs.

“When we met with small club owners,” Menin said, “time and time again they all said they needed help with marketing and promotion.” And the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment plans to help these small venues with “collective marketing” programs and events listings on partner sites like ExploreBK.com.

When asked specifically how NYC would offer cash incentives or grants beyond marketing assistance for small venues and clubs booking emerging artists, Menin deferred, saying, “Stay tuned,” in reference to upcoming announcements scheduled for next month.

While this economic impact study may not have all the answers as to how the city can foster growth in the music industry, it is certainly a decisive step forward in cultivating the business of music in NYC.

I’m glad to see the city recognizing the need to launch programs to support this valuable, artistic ecosystem. It’s the hard-working musicians who used to perform at North Brooklyn’s now forgone clubs and venues. I just hope it’s not too late.