3330 N. Causeway Blvd. Suite 438
Metairie LA 70002
Phone: 504-838-5600
Fax: 504-838-5280

Email: lmc@louisianamusic.org

Updated 7/30/98 2:50PM CDT
Ellis L. Marsalis Jr.

Bernie Cyrus

Steve Picou

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(Updated July, 1998) 


This report estimates the total economic impact of the music industry in Louisiana by city in 1990, 1994 and 1996 as originally determined by Dr. Tim Ryan of the University of New Orleans (UNO) in his April 1990 report "The Economic Impact of the Louisiana Music Industry." It estimates the economic impact by city based on the number of listings in the 1995-96 edition of the OffBeat Louisiana Music Directory. Total spending is based on "the sale and commercial playing of recorded music, the sale of equipment for playing or listening to recorded music, the playing of live music, the attraction that music provides for the state visitor industry, music education, and the recording and production of music," according to Dr. Ryan's study. The 1990 figures were updated in March 1996 and again in 1997 by Dave Roach, Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Policy and Research of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (DED).

NOTE: The economic impact of NO LIMIT RECORDS on Baton Rouge is not calculated in these figures. Since as of July 1998 No Limit has more than 7 MILLION in record sales on the Billboard charts--representing a retail value of more than $100 million and possible income to the company of more than $40 million (!), the figures for Baton Rouge are likely much larger than represented here. Indeed, the success of three companies: No Limit in Baton Rouge, Cash Money and Take Fo' in New Orleans, could greatly enhance the overall economic impact of music in Louisiana. Until the LMC can undertake a more detailed and current study, however, these numbers must serve as our barometer of the music economy in the state.

Breakdown of Spending by City

According to Dr. Ryan's study, primary and secondary spending totaled $1.45 billion in 1990. The updates by DED indicate that the impact in 1994 rose to $1.9 billion and in 1996 to $2.2 billion. The 1995-96 OffBeat Louisiana Music Directory lists over 3100 bands and businesses. A breakdown by city of these listings produces the following rank by percentages and amounts:


Music is big business in Louisiana. Our prominence on the country charts is at an all time high, with acts like Sammy Kershaw, Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins and other Louisiana-born country artists achieving combined album sales in the past year of more than 15 million units. More recently, rap labels, led by Baton Rouge-based No Limit Records, have achieved the most record sales by Louisiana-based labels in history, with more than 10 million in sales in the past 18 months. No Limit has branched into movies and other ventures and will likely have a more than $100 million economic impact on the state. Consider that when combined with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's economic impact of more than $200 million (as of 1997, and it rained that year), the impact of No Limit and the Fest is more than $300 million. The sudden growth caused by these entities skewers the figures in this report, and add weight to the argument in support of a new, formal study of the economic impact of music in Louisiana. The LMC is actively looking for partners to help fund such a study.

A note of caution needs to be kept in mind, however, for much of Louisiana's music business is based on the accomplishments of the past. Aging stars of jazz and R&B account for much of the state's reputation and attraction. Until the rock act Better Than Ezra sold over a million records in 1995-96, no Louisiana rock act had reached that sales level in over twenty years. Nevertheless interest in Louisiana music is high. Once thought to be a trend, zydeco and Cajun music continue to be in demand internationally, and domestic sales are modest but steady. Significantly, in Acadiana, young Cajun and zydeco artists are creating a thriving scene, as are the new generation of brass bands in New Orleans. Thus Louisiana's music legacy is continuing. Most recently, young Shreveport blues artist Kenny Wayne Shepherd has twice achieved sales of more than 500,000 units and embarked on well-received international tours opening for such industry powerhouses as the Eagles and Eric Clapton, giving another of our great musical styles, the blues, current international prominence. And of course, Louisiana continues to produce significant jazz musicians like Pulitzer prizewinner Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton and others.

However for our industry to continue to flourish, we must work to remove obstacles to growth, such as the City of New Orleans Amusement Tax on live music and the City's restrictions on live music in record stores and on the street. And we must address the lack of a comprehensive promotional plan for music tourism in the state.

The Louisiana Music Commission has created lasting programs that enhance our music reputation and promote our music resources. Significant efforts to connect Louisiana artists with the retail-buying public such as radio and television shows have produced unprecedented results. This commission is responsible for putting more Louisiana artists onto commercial radio and television than anyone in Louisiana history and has reached literally millions via radio, television and the international press.

Since music is an integral part of the fabric of life in Louisiana, efforts to promote music education and cultural awareness are critical. Completion of the effort begun by the LMC in the 1980s (and recently expanded upon by New Orleans Jazz Centennial Celebration Inc.&emdash;an organization founded by the LMC) to produce a text on the history of music in Louisiana for distribution to Louisiana middle schools is critical to continuing our music legacy. NOJCC has sponsored a continuing series of historical jazz "informances" for elementary students that since January 1998 has reached more than 8000 children through 49 performances in 13 communities. Most significantly, through the support of grants from a variety of agencies and with the assistance of the American Federation of Musicians' Performance Trust Fund, these informances have paid out more than $30,000 in fees to the musicians.

In conclusion, there is a need for common elements in the marketing and promotion of Louisiana music, common data and statistics, and common developmental and promotional tools and techniques. A Commission project, the Louisiana Music Network, clearly addresses that need by creating a statewide marketing and promotion plan that will build pride in local music resources, help develop the careers of musical artists and the resulting industries that support successful artists, and coordinate communication between record labels, radio and the press. Utilizing the statistics in this report is one of the first steps toward a greater goal of increasing the economic impact of this vital natural resource.

Update history of this document:

Data for 1990 was generated by a baseline study conducted by Dr. Tim Ryan of the University of New Orleans. These figures we updated in 1996 and 1997 by Dave Roach of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. Analysis by City was created by comparing the number of listings per city in the OffBeat Louisiana Music Directory with the general numbers created by the baseline study and updates.

Document first prepared: March 1996. Updated: April 1997, July 1998

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Louisiana Music Commission
3330 N. Causeway Blvd. Suite 438
Metairie LA 70002
Phone: 504-838-5600 Fax: 504-838-5280

Email: lmc@louisianamusic.org

©1996, 1997, 1998 Louisiana Music Commission
We encourage the dissemination of this information. Please credit the Louisiana Music Commission as the source.

First posted: Oct. 7, 1997