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A REPORT ON
THE LOUISIANA MUSIC COMMISSION
Prepared for the Louisiana Legislature
(Partially Updated 9/10/97)
Ellis L. Marsalis Jr.
Our mission, as defined by La. R.S. 25:316 is "the promotion and development of popular commercial music and its related industry in Louisiana." We endeavor to promote and develop live music resources, education, manufacturing, broadcasting and more. This report was prepared to show what has been done by this commission as of May 1997 in order to fulfill that mission.
Budgeted at approximately $56,000 in FY 92 through 94 and at approximately $150,000 since FY 94-95, the LMC has three full time positions. Some of the major accomplishments of the LMC over the past five years :
There's never been a better time to be in the Louisiana music industry. As with the general economy of the state, music is flourishing. Economic figures show that not only is the impact of music on the state growing, but our artists are selling more records than at any time since the heyday of the 1940s, 50s and early 60s. But we can still do so much more.
Assistance Statistics and Information
According to our data the LMC fielded approximately 4000 incoming phone calls last year resulting in direct assistance to over 420 businesses and organizations and general advice and assistance to an equal number of people and organizations. The LMC also assisted more than 300 musical artists by providing referrals, information and performance opportunities. Businesses located in nearly every major Louisiana city, national and international organizations, press and media, as well as traditional music industry businesses such as agents, managers, record labels, studios and more were assisted.
Types of businesses and organizations the LMC either worked with or assisted include federal, state and local government, public and private educational institutions ranging from K-12 through university level, press and media from around the world and the general citizenry of Louisiana. The LMC worked with people in the following fields:
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Jobs Affected or Created
1996 Louisiana Music Industry Facts
Some of the significant accomplishments of the past five years include:
Numerous other meetings and events took place throughout the year, including an official meeting of the LMC on October 16 at which many of the above-noted initiatives were discussed. Other groups with which the LMC interacted include: the Children's Museum, the Children's Castle in Rivertown, Fete de Amerique-Francaise, the French Quarter Festival, the Mayor's Arts Awards, the NFL Experience, the Musee Conti Wax Museum, the Arts Tourism Partnership, the Offbeat Music Awards, dozens of Louisiana record labels and literally hundreds of Louisiana musicians and music industry professionals.
The Louisiana music industry is booming. The Department of Economic Development updated a study by Dr. Tim Ryan of the University of New Orleans and concluded that the industry's economic impact is nearly $2 billion, producing over 40,000 jobs and over $100 million in taxes. Louisiana artists are selling more records than ever, with over 20 million records sold last year by Louisiana-born artists, representing over $250,000,000 in record sales.
The Louisiana Music Commission is continuing to have a positive impact on the future of the Louisiana music industry. Efforts to end the onerous Amusement Tax are building momentum, as are plans to extend the educational programs of the Jazz Centennial. The upcoming launch of the Louisiana Music Network will put Louisiana in the unique position of taking a broad and active role in the development of musical artists' careers and the many business components that grow with an artist, an effort sure to bring even more international attention to our wealth of musical resources.
As always, the LMC maintains an open-door policy with regards to input from commissioners, government and business leaders, and anyone interested in helping develop and promote the state's music industry. In the coming months, with expanded staff, expect to see the LMC take a higher profile statewide in an effort to build pride in local music resources. Alliances with a growing list of major companies, from MCA Publishing to local record labels and radio, point to a continuation of current trends both in Louisiana and internationally. Internationally, there are growing markets hungry for Louisiana's special blend of cultures and music. The Louisiana Music Commission will continue to help grow, harvest and produce the music that feeds the demand.
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An Outline of LMC Activities and Plans
- 1. Infrastructure Issues
- a.) Government Policies
- City of New Orleans Amusement Tax on Live Music
- Louisiana Music Code
- Tax Incentives for Investment in New Music Businesses
- b.) Work Opportunities
- Expanding Music Presentation Opportunities
- Louisiana Music Network
- Radio and Television
- Bringing Music to Where People are Gathered
- Shopping Centers
- Sporting Events
- Charity and Church Functions and Fund raisers
- c.) Songwriter Rights and Royalties Search Service
- Return royalties to Louisiana songwriters and heirs
- Expand pool of lawyers and accountants in publishing
- d.) Seminars, Conferences and Reference Materials
- Music Conferences on Industry Issues
- Educational Seminars
- Booklets and Pamphlets
- e.) Online Resources
- Internet Web Site
- Basic business resources and reference library
- Links to Louisiana music artists and resources
- 2. Promotion
- a.) Working with Department of Tourism
- Louisiana Music Trail
- Campaign to Build Pride in Local Music Resources
- b.) Working with National and International Press
- c.) Developing New Media Outlets for Louisiana Music
- Radio and Television Shows
- Louisiana Music Network
- 3. Business Investment
- a.) Attracting New Business
- Manufacturing of Instruments
- Manufacturing and Duplication of Recorded Products
- Management and Agencies
- Local Record Labels
- Major Record Companies and Publishers
- b.) Attracting Louisiana Stars' Business
- Tour Resources
- Bus Rental
- Tour Management
- Management Resources
- Booking Agencies
- Production Offices
- c.) Attracting Investment via Incentives
- d.) International Business Expansion
- Caribbean Basin
- Central and South America
- 4. Education
- a.) K-12 programs
- Community Music School Programs
- Educational Informances on Louisiana Music History
- Education Book on Louisiana Music
- Holistic Approach to Music Instruction that Leads to College
- Louisiana Alliance for Arts Education
- b.) Higher Education programs
- Music Programs in Jazz and Louisiana Music
- Support Jobs Training
- Events Planning and Management
- Audio and Technical Engineering Fields
- Multimedia Training
Media Appearances Promoting Louisiana Music
The LMC's Executive Director, Bernie Cyrus, has garnered considerable attention from the press. A major feature story in the international music trade journal, Billboard, a full page article in the Washington Post, as well as a national CableAce nomination for the television show LTV, have helped give the LMC a higher media profile than ever before in its history&emdash;thus creating more demand for the services of the LMC.
- BBC-TV Great Britain
- BBC Radio Britain
- BBC Radio Ulster, Ireland
- WRNO Worldwide Radio
- London Times
- ABC-TV Primetime
- Jazz Alley TV (National syndication)
- Court TV-Kid's Court TV
Louisiana Television: (Partial listing)
- Cox Metro 10: Co-creator/Host/Co-Executive Producer of CableAce nominated LTV
- WWL Morning Show
- WVUE--Grammy feature w/Aaron Neville
- WCKW-FM Co-host/executive producer Louisiana Homegrown Music Show
- WZRH-FM-creator of LA's Alternative Show 1993 to present
- WWOZ--Guest Co-host/Producer
- WTIX--Guest Host/Producer
- Billboard Magazine--Feature Story
- Times-Picayune--Feature Story
- Gambit Weekly--Cover Story
- New Orleans Magazine--Feature Story
- Shot In LA. Magazine--Cover Story
- New Orleans CityBusiness
- Cultural Vistas
- Offbeat Magazine
- USA Today
- Washington Post
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Down Beat
- Orlando Sentinel
- San Diego Union Tribune
- Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
- Gambit Weekly: "Hottest Local Production"&emdash;LTV 1995
- Gambit Weekly Reader's Poll "Most Trusted Public Officials" 1997
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A Brief Profile of the Commissioners
Ellis L. Marsalis Jr., Chairman, has been a music educator for over 30 years and heads the Jazz Studies program at the University of New Orleans. He is considered by many to be one of the most important music educators in the world. Ellis is the patriarch of America's First Family of Jazz which includes sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason.
Joan Rhodes Brown is a member of the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. She is also a prominent community activist and businessperson operating Rhodes Funeral Homes and related businesses.
Dr. Thomas Comeaux has been a successful musician and producer for 20 years and is a former member of Beausoliel. He is an oncologist at Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette.
William C. Credo III hails from a prominent musical family and is a former Assistant District Attorney of Jefferson Parish.
Steve Gernhauser has been a songwriter for over 20 years and is an attorney from New Orleans.
Hon. Alan J. Green plays sax, and serves as a judge in the 24th Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish.
Jean Knight is a singer from New Orleans whose biggest hit, "Mr. Big Stuff" was recently utilized in a major ad campaign by Burger King. She still performs regularly and also works as an LPN.
Leroy Martin is a singer and songwriter whose career spans over 40 years. He has had over 120 songs published and recorded by other artists and is the Assessor of Lafourche Parish.
Art Neville is a member of both the legendary Neville Brothers and the Funky Meters and a multiple Grammy winner whose songwriting and playing helped define the funky sound of New Orleans from the 1950s to today.
Wayne Sensat is a manager, producer and promoter who has been involved in the south Louisiana music scene for 30 years. He also works as an Investigator for the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney.
Ken Shepherd spent most of his professional career in radio in Shreveport as both an on-air personality and station manager. He is currently managing the very successful career of his son, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who recently snared a gold record signifying sales of 500,000 copies.
Irma Thomas has earned the title "Queen of New Orleans' Soul" as a singer whose career has spanned the last 35 years. Her singing and songs have influenced musicians around the world.
David Torkanowsky is an internationally acclaimed composer, pianist, producer and arranger from New Orleans and a founding member of the contemporary jazz band Astral Project. He is currently the Music Director of the television series The Big Easy.
Wayne Toups is a successful "zydecajun" musician and recording artist currently based in Lake Charles who performs internationally.
Margaret Lewis Warwick is a successful songwriter and music activist from Shreveport whose hundreds of works have been covered by a "Who's Who" of Nashville artists over the last 40 years. Among her most famous songs is "Reconsider Me," still a popular standard among singers with the range to sing it's challenging high notes.
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Brief Biographies of the Staff
Executive Director of the LMC since March 1992, native New Orleanian Bernie Cyrus has established himself as a visionary, impresario and valuable asset to anyone wishing to work with Louisiana's music resources. His media savvy has resulted in his producing hundreds of hours of radio and television dedicated to Louisiana music, including assistance to dozens of international journalists from all media who have often quoted his accurate and colorful comments on the wealth and history of Louisiana music. Calling upon a lifetime of music business experience as well as public service, Bernie is an encyclopedia of information on Louisiana's music legacy and resources. Consequently, he is also on the Boards and Advisory Committees of several prominent organizations for both music and community service activities. His reputation for resourcefulness and imagination is evidenced by numerous daily requests for his assistance and advice on dozens of diverse projects.
The LMC's assistant director, Steve Picou, was raised in Eunice and comes from a musical family with a strong public service background. He has worked in the music industry most of his life, including jobs in radio, television, recording, producing, performing, management, booking, retail and wholesale record sales, and more. He is a founding member of the Cajun-influenced progressive rock band Bas Clas (1976-91). Steve is an accomplished community activist and is a founding board member of the New Year Coalition that launched the "Falling Bullets Kill" campaign against celebratory New Year's gunfire, the most successful anti-crime campaign in New Orleans history. He also worked on community programs in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Steve was asked to join the LMC in April 1992 as a student assistant, a job he held until August 1994 when he was tapped to be the first-ever assistant director.
As a team, the two current full time staffers have proven themselves to be dedicated to the general welfare of Louisiana and to the mission of the LMC. Consequently, the LMC's correspondence file is filled with scores of letters of appreciation for the accomplishments and assistance of Cyrus and Picou, and an equal number of letters of support for their work. The filling of the recently-approved position for a full time Civil Service administrative secretary will greatly expand their capacity to meet the needs of Louisiana's expanding music industry.
3330 N. Causeway Blvd. Suite 438
Metairie LA 70002
Phone: 504-838-5600 Fax: 504-838-5280
LMC Street Address:
284 Iris Suite F
Jefferson LA 70121
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