ATLANTA – Georgia should institute a 30% to 35% tax credit for music-production expenses to help grow the state’s music industry, a bipartisan legislative study committee recommended this week.
The tax incentive would encourage out-of-state productions to invest in Georgia musicians, the committee said. The state should also set the amount of spending needed to qualify for the tax incentive to $25,000 for recorded musical productions and allow companies to aggregate multiple projects to meet that threshold.
The committee also recommended lowering the spending threshold to earn the tax credit to $200,000 for musical or theatrical tours that start in Georgia. This would encourage productions, including Broadway touring companies and major musical acts, to launch their tours in Georgia.
The state should set up a Georgia Music Office within the Office of the Governor to publicize Georgia’s musical talent and attract music companies to the state. That office, modeled on a similar, successful office in Texas, should have three full-time staffers, the committee recommended.
The new music office should create a “Music City” certification that Georgia cities could earn if they meet certain requirements. That would help bolster musical networks and draw attention to the music industry in the designated cities. The program would be modeled on a similar program in Texas that has so far certified over 35 cities in that state.
Georgia should also set up a music commission to advise the new music office. That commission should include music-industry leaders, businesspeople, and music educators.
The state should set up grants for between $5,000 and $25,000 to help support local musicians and recording studios, the committee recommended.
Georgia should also designate music-production development jobs as high-demand careers for the purposes of the Technical College System of Georgia’s new High-Demand Career Initiative program. That would provide funding for employers to create paid apprenticeship programs in music production and help create a future workforce for the industry.
The state’s success in attracting film and television productions after a 2008 tax-incentive reform provides a blueprint for capitalizing on the state’s rich musical heritage that includes internationally known acts such as The Allman Brothers Band, Trisha Yearwood, Outkast, and R.E.M.
Though Georgia has offered music-industry tax incentives since 2017, they have not been competitive enough to beat out the packages offered by other states. The incentives are also set to expire at the end of this year.
The new recommendations grew out of a bipartisan, bicameral study committee established this year. The committee heard from Georgia luminaries such as Chuck Leavell, the Georgia-based keyboardist for The Rolling Stones who previously played for The Allman Brothers Band.
Leavell – and many others who testified before the committee — noted that Georgia is losing music business to other states that offer more generous tax incentives.
“We know the competition, what’s happening in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Tennessee,” Leavell told the committee this fall. “We need to get at least even with these guys.”
The General Assembly, which begins meeting in January, would need to approve corresponding legislation for the recommendations to become a reality.