Musical Break

by R. Reese Fuller

A new law gives tax breaks for recording music in Louisiana.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco recently signed into law House Bill 631, which grants tax credits ' from 10 to 20 percent, with an annual $3 million cap ' to investors who record music in Louisiana.

A similar earlier bill was first introduced by Sen. Mike Michot. Louisiana Crossroads Director Todd Mouton and Scott Aiges, director of music business development for the New Orleans mayor's office of economic development, testified before the Senate Revenue and Fiscal affairs committee on how the bill could foster more investment in Louisiana's music industry.

The adopted bill, Act No. 485, is similar to the controversial film tax credits that grant filmmakers tax breaks to film in Louisiana. Proponents contend that the credits import revenue into Louisiana, while opponents argue that over time, the credit could bleed tax revenue from the state's coffers.

Louisiana Music Commission Executive Director Bernie Cyrus estimates that there are some 300 studios operating in Louisiana, not counting the increasing number of smaller home-based recording studios.

For more than a year, Dirk Powell has been recording and mixing music at The Cypress House, his studio in Parks. He's recorded local acts like The Red Stick Ramblers, Feu Follet, Corey Ledet, and Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys.

Powell says the musicians he talks with outside of Louisiana find recording here appealing. "They know that the ambiance and the general lifestyle and energy of southwest Louisiana will produce a good experience for recording," he says. "The sense of the area and the priorities inspire them. I've seen it happen a lot of times.

"It helps to offer them a financial incentive," he adds. "It also further proves that Louisiana recognizes its own unique culture and its own value. That's something that's not always talked about ' the fact that Louisiana takes the music industry seriously, as this indicates. I'm really glad that Gov. Blanco saw the wisdom of this. It just bodes well for Louisiana, recognizing that its culture is probably one if its best assets ' economically and otherwise."