The Mayors Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) gathered yesterday (June 28) morning for its first-ever “New York City Music Industry Convening,” intended as an industry-wide introductory and brainstorm session to help determine how the city can support the music industry and its creators. Representatives from more than 75 companies and organizations — labels, management companies, recording studios, promoters, venue owners, publicity firms, rights organizations, publishers, brands, lawyers, distributors, universities and musicians themselves, among others — attended the nearly two-hour summit. MOME Commissioner Julie Menin called it “a robust and productive” discussion.
“There was a tremendous response from everyone in the room,” Menin tells Billboard of the meeting, which was closed to the press. “Everyone was excited that music is now housed within a City agency that, soup to nuts, is going to deal with issues within the music business, both focused on bringing new opportunities to New York City and being supportive of the music industry.”
At the time of Menin’s appointment, which followed two years as chief of the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded the purview of MOME — previously focused on film, television and theater — to include music, digital content, advertising and real estate related to each. Yesterday morning’s convening was a way for the Commissioner to both hear the concerns from all corners of the music business and to explain the assets she her office have at their disposal; its Made In New York marketing credit, for example, as well as a State tax credit, has been part of the City’s successful push to bring film and television production back to NYC after seeing it outsourced to cities like Toronto and Nashville in recent years.
The music industry has seen a similar exodus of late, whether due to rising costs or overly-restrictive City regulations. The latter issue was one that Menin highlighted particularly concerning to attendees of the meeting, especially in relation to venue operations. Menin says that the opening of new venues was challenging due to the many regulations involved, and noted her own experience while at the Office of Consumer Affairs cutting “regulatory bureaucracy and red tape.” The MOME already employs a production staff to deal with those types of hang ups in the film and television world. “We were hearing the same kinds of issues emanating from the music industry; that when they’re opening up new businesses there are a lot of different agencies to deal with and a number of different regulations. So one of the ideas that we discussed was to have someone in the office to almost serve as an expediter to help navigate different regulatory requirements.”
One person in attendance called the meeting broad in its topics, but important in that, “for the first time, the music industry is having an active discussion with the City about being a partner, the way the City partners with so many other industries.”
In a development unrelated to the City’s initiative but aligned in spirit, the New York State legislature voted last week to approve the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit, which gives tax breaks for expenses related to the recording of musical projects within New York State, and which now is only awaiting the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That legislation is being supported by the New York Is Music campaign, spearheaded by William Harvey Studio’s Bill Harvey and Downtown Music Publishing’s Justin Kalifowitz, who attended the meeting yesterday morning and who Menin described as “a great resource for us” as the MOME moves forward. With 75,000 music industry employees within New York City alone, Menin welcomed the credit as further support for the music community.
“One of the points I made at the meeting today is if you look at all the industries that are in our portfolio as an agency — whether it be film, TV, theater, music, digital content, advertising or publishing — that’s 385,000 jobs for New York City,” she said, contrasting that with the 340,000 jobs in the finance and insurance sectors within the City. “Not only do the media and entertainment sectors constitute more jobs, but more importantly media and entertainment are actually outpacing finance and insurance in terms of annual growth. So anything, for example the tax credit, is important, because it drives economic growth within the City, within this industry.”
For now, the meeting stands as a starting point, an airing of priorities while the MOME conducts an economic analysis of New York’s music industry, which they expect to release in the coming months. “We’re working on that study to really drill down in a really granular way on some of the economic statistics, data and opportunities that exist,” Menin said. “We’re going to continue to meet with the various stakeholders that we met with today… and hopefully we can take off from there.”