Grammy party attendees lobby legislators for music tax incentives bill

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Before they strolled the red carpet at Tuesday night’s annual Georgia Grammy nominees party at the downtown W hotel, many of the evening’s honorees spent the day lobbying at the state capitol. As part of the inaugural Georgia Music Day, Sugarland‘s Kristian Bush, Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, Zac Brown Band’s Coy Bowles and John Hopkins and others turned up downtown in an effort to convince lawmakers to provide the same enticing tax incentives for the music business currently being enjoyed by our burgeoning film and television production industry.

“This is something we’ve been working on for three years,” Grammys Atlanta Chapter senior executive director Michele Rhea Caplinger told us Tuesday night. “The film tax bill took eight years to get passed. It’s a process. We’re talking about including live music, recorded music, music technology and music education. When we see Georgia artists like R.E.M. go and spend four months in New Orleans because they can take advantage of the tax credits there, that’s a problem. It’s the perfect complement [to the film and television bill]. This could make us an even more dynamic entertainment hub.”

A current entertainment act bill under consideration at the gold dome already encompasses proposed tax credits for music video production and for music scoring and composition for film. Caplinger says passing that bill alone could mean a leg up for the state’s music industry. “For example, [the new Dolly Parton/Queen Latifah comedy] ‘A Joyful Noise’ was shot here but they didn’t record it here. If this bill passes, they could do both.” Caplinger has her fingers crossed a music tax incentive bill will be drafted and ready in time for the 2013 state legislative session.

She’s not alone. Sugarland’s Kristian Bush has been recording here for the past two decades, going back to his nights gigging at Trackside Tavern and creating Billy Pilgrim‘s Atlantic Records debut with Andrew Hyra at Don McCollister‘s Nickel & Dime Studios here.  Bush arrived on the red carpet with his bandmate and brother Brandon Bush. “Today was awesome. It all begins in that room and those were the right people for us to be talking to today,” he told us. “I would love for there to be more incentives to stay here and make records. I learned how to make records here. I think we built Don’s old place and put the sheetrock up in there! With Sugarland, it is so convenient to record in L.A. or New York or Nashville because of the infrastructure and the support that those cities and states have for the music business. I know that same support exists here, it just needs a little bit of help.”

Chuck Leavell was also on hand to support the lobbying effort. “If we can follow what the film industry has done, we can attract artists to Georgia and keep them in Georgia while providing them with tax incentives to write and record here,” Leavell told Atlanta magazine Tuesday night. So, would it be nice to record in his home state with Mick and Keith and the boys? Leavell laughed and replied, “Yeah man, let’s do it! We’ve played all over the world together but we’ve never recorded here at home. Wouldn’t that be cool?!”

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