Published Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Legislator wants to study building music industry in Georgia

By Walter C. Jones 

Morris News Service

ATLANTA – Georgia has done so well attracting the motion-picture producers to do business here that now a legislator wants to see how to duplicate that success with the music industry.

Considering the number of homegrown stars like Alan Jackson of Newnan, Zac Brown and Trisha Yearwood, there's plenty of talent to build a local industry around, according to Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans.

"We want to see what we can do to keep them here," he said. "We really don't know what the answer is." Add to that the entertainers who chose to live in Georgia, like Elton John, Justin Bieber and Usher, the potential is even greater.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development estimates the existing music industry is already $3.8 billion here with 20,000 jobs.

Harbin concluded it could be bigger after discussing the issue recently with Lisa Love, who is director of Music Marketing and Development in our Film, Music & Digital Entertainment division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Louisiana, for example, has recently given its music industry a big push with tax breaks.

"I don't want us to say we'll just open the incentives," he said.

Harbin is quick to note that Georgia used tax breaks to lure the movie makers, but once filming became common, studios and other aspects of the industry permanently located in the state even though they don't qualify for most of the targeted tax breaks.

Harbin introduced House Resolution 529 to create a temporary committee to study ways to advance the industry here, from luring the entertainers and recording studios to even the tourism from their fans.

"We'll talk to where the music industry is now – Atlanta, Athens and Savannah," he said.

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