Visitors since Oct. 7, 1997

ll Articles ll Feedback ll Links ll News Archives ll Press Releases ll Recent News ll Site Map ll Studio & Recording News ll

Back to Home Page






and Plans


Prepared for the Louisiana Legislature

May 1997

(Partially Updated 9/10/97)


Ellis L. Marsalis Jr.


Bernie Cyrus


 Steve Picou

Assistant Director



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 :

Back to LMC Home Page
  • Generated over $5 million in economic activity
  • Reached millions of people via international press, radio and television
  • Assisted thousands of Louisiana musicians and music business professionals
  • Produced direct and indirect job growth resulting in over 100 jobs
  • Assisted in the career growth of now-successful recording artists
  • Helped secure nearly $700,000 in grants for music projects
  • Provided new outlets for Louisiana artists to reach retail markets
  • Increased international marketing efforts for Louisiana music
  • Continued the fight against the City of New Orleans Amusement Tax on live music
  • Worked to help older songwriters reacquire their rights and royalties
  • Conceived the Louisiana Music Trail promotion of the Department of Tourism
  • Created original radio and television programming for Louisiana music
  • Given over a thousand Louisiana artists exposure on commercial radio and television
  • Created and implemented New Orleans Jazz Centennial Celebration which helped secure City of First Issue ceremonies for the Louis Armstrong postage stamp, staged a Jazz Symposium on Jazz origins, and established a series of musical presentations including educational Jazz "Informances" for elementary students
  • Acted as a catalyst for expansion of memorials and museums
  • Worked to expand educational programs from K through college
  • Expanded resource and reference services to the Louisiana music community
  • Greatly increased assistance to international press and media
  • Participated in international music industry conferences, including assisting with the Fortune 500 Forum, and worked to bring those conferences to Louisiana

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.


1996 -97 IN REVIEW

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:

  • Academia, K-12 and university
  • Advertising agencies
  • Associations and organizations both public and private from music to community service
  • Attorneys
  • Booking agencies
  • Catering, convention services
  • Commercial music production
  • Conferences, seminars, and continuing education
  • Events production and staging
  • Historians
  • Managers
  • Media and journalists, print, radio, television
  • Merchandisers, instrument manufacturers & sales, T-shirts, etc.
  • Music industry trade shows and conferences
  • Performance rights organizations
  • Photography
  • Publicity
  • Rehearsal facilities
  • Recording services, engineers, production companies, studios
  • Recording production and distribution, designers, manufacturers, record companies
  • Tourism guides, planners and promoters
  • Unions, music associations
  • Venues, clubs and facilities operators, including investors and planners
  • Video production, post production, television stations and operators
Economic Impact of the Music Industry in Louisiana

Back to LMC Home Page


Total Spending

$1.448 billion

$1.906 billion


(not computed)

$562 million

Jobs Affected or Created




$593 million

$780 million

Tourism-related Jobs



Local Taxes

$18 million

$30 million

State Taxes

$33 million

$53 million

Federal Taxes

(not computed)

$76 million

1996 Louisiana Music Industry Facts


  • More than 20 million records sold by Louisiana musical artists
  • More than $250,000,000 in record sales internationally
  • More than 120 Louisiana record labels
  • More than 100 locally-released records annually
  • More than 1500 professional musical groups or artists statewide
  • More than 1600 music industry businesses statewide
  • 1 of every 800 Louisianians is struggling to be a professional musician
  • 1 of every 80 Louisianians has a job directly or indirectly related to music
  • Gold records by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Aaron Neville and Harry Connick Jr. and Pantera
  • Platinum records by Brooks & Dunn, Sammy Kershaw and Tim McGraw
  • Significant Billboard action by the Marsalis family, Mystikal and Better Than Ezra
  • The City of New Orleans continued to tax live music venues with less than 1800 seats an additional 5% on gross revenues under the provisions of the 68 year old Amusement Tax ordinance


1997-98 Things to Watch
  • Growth of local talent contests statewide
  • Expansion of local music programming by both radio and television statewide
  • Better integration of music marketing efforts
  • Growth of "major" studios
  • Increased business presence of some of the six major record companies operations
  • Growth of publishing companies, attorneys and songwriter representatives
  • Growth of educational programs in both music and music business K thru college
  • Increase in licensing, publishing and distribution deals with local labels
  • Famous Louisiana musical artists appearing in television, print and radio Public Service Announcements imparting information about Louisiana music history and in support of local music resources


Back to LMC Home Page

Some of the significant accomplishments of the past five years include:

  • Putting more Louisiana musical artists onto commercial radio and television state wide and in major markets than any previous Louisiana Music Commission.
  • Creating new and permanent opportunities to access the general public via radio and television.
  • Co-creating a CableAce-nominated music television show.
  • Conceiving and assisting with the planning and implementation of the Louisiana Music Trail promotion in conjunction with the Office of Tourism, the first effort to create a common marketing and promotion program for state wide music resources and venues.
  • Helped secure more than $650,000 of federal and local grant money toward creation of a promenade on the Algiers Point Levee honoring deceased Louisiana musical legends, the first large-scale public memorial to the music history of the state.
  • Working for over three years to end the City of New Orleans Amusement Tax on live music. This regressive 5% tax on gross revenues of venues with fewer than 1800 seats has been hampering investment in live music in New Orleans for nearly 70 years.
  • Working to establish more museums and archives of Louisiana music: In New Orleans with the Louisiana State Museum,in Kenner with the Louisiana Rock 'n Rhythms Hall of Fame, in New Orleans with the National Park Service's National Jazz Historical Park which just received a $3 million investment from the federal government, the largest public investment in music in Louisiana history. Also assisting efforts to maintain or create museums in Lafayette, Shreveport and Eunice.
  • Assisting in the development of music business programs in colleges and universities. Loyola University recently received a $1 million grant from the Barron Hilton foundation to develop a degree program in the music industry, the largest music business university endowment in Louisiana history. The LMC is on the Advisory Committee developing the program.
  • Working to develop a state wide music education program that is tailored to the communities, their music resources and legacies. This effort is in conjunction with the Kennedy Center and the Louisiana Alliance for Arts Education.
  • Continuing to develop a Louisiana music history educational book for Louisiana schools.
  • Created New Orleans Jazz Centennial Celebration, an effort operated by a nonprofit organization that was the catalyst for securing the long-awaited Armstrong postage stamp City of First Issue ceremonies, was the theme of the 1995 Sugar Bowl halftime ceremonies, created new live music performance opportunities, staged a conference on Jazz history, and is continuing to raise awareness of our significant Jazz legacy via a musical history music presentation that reaches rural schools thanks to funding from the Division of the Arts.
  • Helped rescue the Aaron Neville Christmas television special which aired in 1994 and resulted in over $750,000 in direct spending in Louisiana and which drew the highest ratings ever for programming on the Family Channel that year.
  • Expanding our role as a reference and resource for hundreds of inquiring and aspiring musicians and music entrepreneurs.
  • Continuing the effort to develop a Louisiana Music Code that attracts investment in the music industry in Louisiana by creating clear legal guidelines for artists and music businesses in the state.
  • Continuing to serve a greatly expanded role in assisting charities utilizing music for fund raising activities and events.
  • Expanding and exploring potential markets in the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim.


A chronological look at LMC activities from January 1996 through March 1997:
  • Grammy Expo: revived the efforts to build this $40+ million project (as of 5/97 won by Memphis).
  • Helped reestablish the Sister City program for the New Orleans metro area which helped stage a major Louisiana music and business event in Matsue Japan.
  • Introduced an official Aruban representative to state and city officials resulting in cultural exchange, greater participation by Louisiana artists and companies in the annual Aruban jazz festival and establishment of a weekly flight by the Aruban airline to Moissant Airport.
  • Joined the task force working on a Music Business degree program at Loyola that was established by a million dollar grant from the Hilton Foundation.
  • Met with State Representatives Steve Scalise and Alex Heaton at the LMC offices to discuss government's role in the music industry.
  • Worked with Delgado Community College and a group of jazz activists to build and dedicate a memorial to Buddy Bolden in Holt Cemetery drawing national attention resulting in a full page article in the Washington Post.
  • Quoted in the above-noted Washington Post article in the only highlighted quote on the page.
  • Involved in creating, producing and hosting LTV: concluded three years of work on this television show by nabbing a national CableAce nomination. The show placed more Louisiana musical acts on commercial television than any show in history and expanded its broadcast area to include Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette and Opelousas-Eunice cable systems during that time.
  • Met with Senator John Hainkel, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and discussed the future of the LMC under the Foster administration.
  • Participated in UNO Goals 2000 and plans to establish a studio facility on the campus to educate audio engineers and post-production multimedia specialists.
  • Guest lectured at Loyola School of Music.
  • Spoke to a gathering of the New Orleans Public Relations Society.
  • Featured in a Gambit Weekly cover story on efforts to end the Amusement Tax on live music. Also garnered significant press coverage in New Orleans CityBusiness and local television and radio stations on this issue.
  • Participated in a fund raiser for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Helped launch a Louisiana blues contest in the growing Lakeshore music scene.
  • Met with Freeport-McMoRan's Dr. Everett Williams to discuss his company's desire to support the development of a clear path through the education system for students with musical aspirations.
  • Helped strengthen the Louisiana Alliance for Arts Education effort, a component of the Kennedy Center's nationwide initiative to ensure that the arts are a part of K through 12 education.
  • Helped plan the Fortune 500 Forum in New Orleans staged by Fortune magazine and featuring LMC Chairman Ellis Marsalis and keynote speaker Colin Powell.
  • Hosted and assisted an Italian film crew in documenting Louisiana music in local live venues.
  • Assisted international press from Russia, England, Ireland, Japan and Australia.
  • Met with state Transportation Secretary Fred Denton to get state support to add to the $500,000 federal ISTEA grant we helped secure for development of a Jazz Centennial Walk of Fame on the Algiers Point levee, the first large-scale memorial to Louisiana musicians.
  • Facilitated a meeting of representatives from Apple Computer and the UNO Jazz Studies program, representatives of NOCCA and independent educators.
  • Guest hosted or appeared on radio and television numerous times, in particular with regards to our efforts to end the Amusement Tax on live music in New Orleans.
  • Appeared in the nationally-broadcast Kid's Court TV on a panel discussing music censorship taped in Baton Rouge.
  • Working with National Park Service components such as the National Jazz Historical Park (which received $3 million in funding, the largest public investment in music in Louisiana history), and the Lower Mississippi Delta Heritage Study.
  • Participated in the Gavin Convention in New Orleans, a gathering of radio programmers and record companies from around the world.
  • Working with New Orleans Jazz Centennial Celebration, staged 6 lunchtime jazz performances in Lakeside Mall as well as helped facilitate a series of historical jazz "informances" in Rivertown for elementary schools in Jefferson Parish all funded by grants from the Division of the Arts and the Arts Council of New Orleans.
  • Worked with the Department of Tourism as a press liaison and reference.
  • Met with owners of Tipitina's, the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Café to discuss their commitment to help grow the music industry in Louisiana and to secure major projects like Grammy Expo.
  • Helped Aaron Neville and Linda Rondstadt appear in performance at Angola State Penitentiary.
  • Helped judge the Miss Louisiana talent segment in Baton Rouge, and served as a celebrity judge and special event Master of Ceremonies for several other charitable events throughout the year.
  • Worked with legendary music impresario and producer Kim Fowley who is now operating a Louisiana-based record label with growing international sales successes.
  • For the third year, played Santa Claus with the Dixie Cups as helpers for the Children's ward at University Hospital.
  • Launched New Orleans After Midnight, a new broadcast television show on NBC-affiliate WDSU that airs regionally and focuses on Louisiana music and entertainment and is creating more television/music production jobs.

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.

Appendix 1

Back to LMC Home Page

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


Back to LMC Home Page

Appendix 2

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.


International Television:
  • BBC-TV Great Britain
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Russia
  • Brazil


International Radio:

  • BBC Radio Britain
  • BBC Radio Ulster, Ireland
  • France
  • WRNO Worldwide Radio


International Print:

  • London Times
  • Russia
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Italy


National Television:

  • ABC-TV Primetime
  • NBC-TV
  • 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
  • WLAE
  • WWL Morning Show
  • WDSU
  • WVUE--Grammy feature w/Aaron Neville
  • WGNO
  • WNOL


Louisiana Radio:

  • 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
  • WWL
  • WRNO
  • KLJZ
  • KBON


Print Media:

  • 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
  • Pollstar
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Down Beat
  • Orlando Sentinel
  • San Diego Union Tribune
  • Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel


Media Accolades:

  • Gambit Weekly: "Hottest Local Production"&emdash;LTV 1995
  • Gambit Weekly Reader's Poll "Most Trusted Public Officials" 1997


Appendix 3

Back to LMC Home Page

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.


Appendix 4

Back to LMC Home Page

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.


Appendix 5




Louisiana Music Commission

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

ll Articles ll Feedback ll Links ll News Archives ll Press Releases ll Recent News ll Site Map ll Studio & Recording News ll

Back to Home Page