A Tune for the Old Pueblo: Music Industry in Tucson

People have always been exposed to music of many different kind. Whether it’s classical or the modern-age, music is an expressive medium of it’s own rights. Arizona does have it share of musical impact, particularly in the city of Tucson (“The Old Pueblo”).

Some people take a look at Tucson as a large city with little diversity of worthy events. I would say this to them: “Before you make a quick judgment, how about look at the details?” It is true that Tucson does not have as much of a diversity as the city of Phoenix and it’s neighboring metro from Glendale to Mesa.

Tucson has quite a number of potential for the music industry as a starting point for independent, local, and rising bands and music artists. Unfortunately, the music industry of Tucson has hit quite a snage out of everything that has happened in the last four to five years.

Being a local of Tucson – as a student at the University of Arizona – I have seen my fair share of musical events both great quality and devastating flops. The  including the college performance of Kanye West’s “Glow in the Dark” tour with performances from Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. Then there came the low points in the Tucson music scene from a couple of national and state-level events.

First, 2008 begins a time when the United States went into an economic recession, including a housing bubble burst resulting in millions of people unemployed and/or homeless. It was not as harsh as the Great Depression, but it did bring an impact of such that affected other industries as well. Case in point: the University Of Arizona’s ASUA (Association of Students of the University of Arizona) planned for months the bring the Spring Platinum Bash concert event. The concert was held at the Arizona Football Stadium featuring artists Kelly Clarkson, Jay-Z, The Veronicas and Third Eye Blind. This would have been a great concert, but such a thing didn’t come. As a result, the event brought a loss of approximately $920,000 due to a lacking quantity of ticket sales. The loss took a while to repay but added a chapter of failed music venues to the ASUA, if not to the Tucson community.

The second significant event impacting the music industry was from the approval of SB1070 (State Bill 1070). In March 2010,  the Arizona State Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law. The purpose of the bill was to curb the problems of illegal immigration with little to no intervention or assistance from the Federal government. The bill stirred up controversy because the mandate required police officers to arrest people suspected of being illegal immigrants without proper identification. The impact of the bill brought a wave of outrage and fear in many industries and people including the Latin American community. Businesses and people declined to do business within Arizona in fear of being unjustly arrested  or racially profiled due to key provisions of SB1070. The notable losses came in the tourist industry from hotels, state and national parks, and the music venues. Several bands and music artists showed their protest against SB1070 by boycott via cancellation of their initially-scheduled performances within the state of Arizona. One of the examples of this protest in Tucson came from hip-hop group Cypress Hill who cancelled their performance at the Riallto Theater. Another music group was Rage Against The Machine who are known for their social and political lyrics followed suit.

But some music did not think boycotting the state was the best way to protest against state legislatures. In fact,  a boycotting meant that businesses would suffer from a loss in revenue, even if the businesses have no side or support against the bill. Other artists such as Elton John decided to keep their performance date in Arizona because they believe that the boycott would not be enough or contradict of going against the creators and supporters of SB1070.

I cannot say that these are the only impacts of the music industry, but they are contributing to the decline of the music industry within Tucson. The protest in my mind was good in its intention to voice out against the flaws in SB1070, but the boycott was slightly the same. Take it to mind Tucson does not have much in the way of providing for large concerts that you may find in the Phoenix metro area. But boycotting everything in the music industry would also mean that the independent music and entertainment industry would suffer more, especially after hardship from the economic decline back in 2008.

It may not be anything like Phoenix, but Tucson has a unique feeling that would definitely differentiate the area from any other part of Arizona. If you stop by Tucson for the first time, you can take a drive around town to see where I am getting at. As for local Tucsonans, this is another thing to think about. But how would you get the music industry that has been slowly recovering back into shape? That much is a great question to ask, while there are so many answers.

I can think of a few solutions that would help the music industry, but they are only ideas so they may not sound good the first time around. As a music enthusiast and musician of my own rights, musical performance and talent is quite a difficult thing to come by. The difference in music quality is for another topic. But for now, I will gladly welcome anyone to give their explanation on the Tucson music scene or proposals for the music industry in Tucson. But don’t worry if you’re not from the Southwest region; whatever solutions is discussed  may apply to your region as well.

– MiDiMension

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