Assemblyman Lentol & NY is Music Host Roundtable Discussion on Empire State Music Tax Credit

November 14, 2014
Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) co-hosted a roundtable discussion on Wednesday with music industry experts aiming to better understand how the Empire State Music Tax Credit should be crafted. The event was co-hosted by NY is Music (nyismusic.org), a newly formed coalition of businesses and organizations working together to support the growth of New York’s music industry.

The Empire State Music Tax Credit was introduced last session by Assemblyman Lentol and will be reintroduced when the session reconvenes in January.

The roundtable was organized to determine what facets of the music industry should qualify for the tax credit. This credit could apply to various costs, from recording production costs and musician session fees to direct marketing expenditures for launching the recording.

While the tax credit would certainly help cut costs for many in the music industry, the tax credit would also create jobs, Lentol explained. One roundtable participant stated that the most recent Rihanna album created over 100 jobs throughout the duration of the project.

“This tax credit could do wonders for creating jobs for the state and in the state,” said Assemblyman Lentol.

The tax credit will be crafted to benefit the music industry statewide. The burgeoning music scenes in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and other parts of the state will be participating in an upcoming roundtable in Albany to outline their personal needs in the tax credit. Roundtable attendees agreed a statewide coalition advocating for the tax credit would be essential. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Carlo Scissura said he will be courting the statewide Chamber Alliance of New York State to sign on as a supporter of this legislation.

“This is a great investment in our music industry,” Lentol noted. “The Empire State Music Tax Credit will increase our tax rolls statewide and double or triple the investment of the tax credit. Just like what happened with the film industry.”

Another important aspect discussed by both roundtable participants and audience members was the lack of affordable space for musicians, such as recording or rehearsal space. In communities such as Greenpoint and Williamsburg, where real estate prices have increased exponentially, the ability to find affordable space to practice or record music is becoming even more difficult, the attendees explained.

The tax credit could include a credit to incentivize developers to provide low-cost musician space. Including this concept could help stimulate cross-regional musical partnerships – where small upstate cities with vacant properties could provide space to put New York’s music industry workforce to work.

Lentol said, “What I have found is that the music workforce is like most labor forces – they want to work close to home so they can be in close contact with their families at days end. We have cities like Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Middletown, and Utica that can provide the space while the rest of New York provides the workforce.”

“We need to ensure that the music culture, which made many of the neighborhoods in New York the cool places they are today, is preserved. Providing affordable space to musicians is imperative to preserving New York’s music industry,” he stated.

The roundtable discussion took place at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg on Wednesday, November 12th. Participants included record labels, recording studio owners, musicians’ union leaders, and many more.

“The Empire State Music Tax Credit will certainly be a top priority in the upcoming session. New York is still the center of music globally, but how can we call it ‘the capital’ when our government takes music for granted? I look forward to once again calling New York the ‘music capital of the world,’ and I am sure the music tax credit will make that happen,” Lentol concluded.