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All Over the Charts: Georgia’s Original Gig Economy Is Calling


By Carol Badaracco Padgett, Eddie Award-winning writer and editor.

Featuring some of the countrys most diverse sounds, Georgias music industry is literally all over the charts. Ray Charles. Usher. Ma Rainey. Luke Bryan. TI. Gladys Knight. Collective Soul. Little Richard. TLC. Otis Redding. Future. Curtis Mayfield. R.E.M. OutKast. Jason Aldean. Ludacris. The B-52s. The Allman Brothers Band. Widespread Panic. Indigo Girls. Ad infinitum.

Georgias musical mix of unprecedented talent and influence is so astoundingly singular that when someone says their name, it kicks off a surging soundtrack in your head. Its so completely stratospheric in every genre that even the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has 27 Grammys.

Music is an artform with a living legacy in Georgia—one thats pulsating forward and expanding as you read this in every corner of the state,” says Mala Sharma, co-founder and President of Georgia Music Partners (GMP), the music industrys advocacy coalition in the state. Music has an overall $5 billion economic impact to the state, and I think its evenly split between live and recorded music. Were the biggest global exporter of music. Music creates jobs—in small communities around the state [as well], in theaters and live music venues.”

Sharma, whos working alongside GMPs membership and supporters to advocate on behalf of Georgias music scene, has seen successes in helping create music commissions in cities and counties around the state in places like Macon, Columbus, Braselton, and others. Were seeing more and more investment by cities in the form of building amphitheaters or expanding arenas and music festivals.”

The depth of Georgias music industry is staggering even outside the realm of public entertainment, events and tourism. It is as much about education and the jobs that enrich Georgians futures as it is about the talent and entertainment revenue alone. We have 48 secondary music programs around the state,” Sharma says. Were educating the talent and the business professionals.”

Yet, Georgia risks losing these businesses to other states, says Sharma. Its awesome that were the No. 1 place to do business, and Id like to see us be the No. 1 place to do music business, as well.”

As much as film and digital have benefited for the past 10 years from state legislation that entices outsiders to bring their business to Georgia, the states music industry and its advocates would like a piece of that pie. And they would very much like to work alongside film, digital and the gaming industries so that the whole of Georgias Creative Economy is working together in concert. Without some sort of investment—whether tax credit or marketing to attract businesses—were falling behind,” Sharma says of Georgias music industry.

And yet, Sharma says Georgia is continuing its efforts to fortify music education at all levels and expand upon it in creative ways. I co-chair a development task force with Andrew Ratcliffe, [founder and CEO of Tweed Recording Audio Production School in Athens, Georgia], and were drilling down with the Georgia Music Educators Association to try and evolve [music]with entertainment and where its going.”

Just as the film world in Georgia has spawned countless educational opportunities for students to train and work in the industry—without relocating outside the state if they choose—the music industry has capitalized on the opportunity to provide a world of technical career opportunities to adults and to children as they choose career paths. Its less about a traditional [educational approach]and its become more of a technical skill,” Sharma says. So there is a focus on teaching engineering and technical skills for those who want to be part of the music industry moving forward. And this is key.”

The future workforce is a combination of technical and creative people and the words gig economy” come to mind. That started with music, right?” Sharma says. In Georgia, weve proven were fertile ground for creating music that is the soundtrack to the world.”

As such, Sharma would love to see music viewed as a strategic component of the overall creative arts that are vastly improving the quality of life for people in Georgia—one seen for the tremendous economic impact that it provides to the states creative, increasingly gig economy.

To read more from The Creative Economy Journal, visit here.


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