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State lawmakers ponder tax break for music industry
Incentives for studios, musicians could be part of legislative plan
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A legislative working group, perhaps hoping to spawn the next Allman Brothers Band, REM or Outkast, will review possible tax incentives for the Georgia music industry when it meets this summer and fall.

The Joint Music Economic Development Study Committee will examine ways to “measure, expand and promote” music and foster connections between recorded music and other arts, such as film, digital media and gaming.

The committee is charged with finding ways to support and promote music tourism, post-secondary education in music and new studio spaces for artists to record their work.

Incentives for small music studios and musicians could be part of a package for lawmakers to consider when they reconvene next year.

A similar committee was formed a few years ago, with officials traveling the state to hear from recording artists, such as the Zac Brown Band, and music instructors.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, served on the committee then and will do so again this year.

The group will consist of Senate and House officials, as well as music industry professionals, and could make recommendations to the General Assembly for the 2017 legislative session.

Hawkins said he has been pushing for music industry tax incentives for years knowing how many great artists live in Northeast Georgia. He cited studies that show music education improves overall school performance among students.

But the credits must be shown not to reduce state revenue, Hawkins added.

The committee will look hard at the financial side of the industry this time around.

“I’m looking forward to being able to move this down the road,” Hawkins said.

He said the tax incentives being considered are modeled on similar credits for the movie industry, which has already seen big gains from tax breaks in the state. Georgia provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend half a million dollars or more during production and post-production in the state. The state offers another 10 percent tax credit if a promotional logo provided by the state is included in the final cut.

About $1.7 billion was spent in the state during the filming of 248 movie and television productions between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, according to the state Department of Economic Development.

The DED cites a 2011 study reporting the music industry in the state is worth $3.7 billion, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs.

Advocates say tax credits for music recorded here, particularly for film, television and theater, could help the industry attract new artists, retain and nurture up-and-comers, and spur the development of new recording facilities and event spaces.

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