JACKSON — Mississippi license plates and highway welcome signs proclaim the state as the Birthplace of America’s Music, bowing to the state’s blues heritage. Now, a legislative proposal wants to pay to make sure more music makes a home in Mississippi.
The House Tourism Committee passed House Bill 907 on Wednesday, moving to subsidize some music recordings, concerts and theater performances and encourage the music industry to do more business in the state.
The measure, which goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration, will ensure more recording and concerts to Mississippi, said House Tourism Committee Chairwoman Rita Martinson, R-Madison.
An out-of-state company spending at least $15,000 on recording would get a 25 percent rebate, as would an in-state company spending at least $5,000. Up to $1 million in rebates could be given yearly.
The bill says a company spending at least $100,000 on a musical or theatrical production could get a 25 percent rebate. Up to $500,000 in those rebates could be given yearly. That part of the bill is mainly aimed at groups that rent an arena to rehearse for a tour. A number of major touring acts have used the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo for pre-tour rehearsals.
“It gives a chance to fill the arena for rehearsal times when they don’t have any booking,” lobbyist Craig Ray told the committee.
The committee considered, but did not include a clause requiring groups to return and perform a public show in the arena where they rehearsed.
The measure was drafted after an entertainment industry study committee met over the summer. Incentives for musicians and theaters would join enhanced film and TV incentives in place in Mississippi. It’s modeled on a tax incentive offered in Louisiana, which allows up to $3 million a year in tax credits for musical recording.
“They wanted to produce their music here, they want to have live performances here and they would like to have the same incentives as in other states,” Martinson said.
Indiana also provides incentives for musical recordings, and Tennessee and New York have considered it.
Since 2009, Mississippi has given cash rebates equal to 25 percent of in-state spending on nationally distributed television, movie, commercial and video game production, as long as the project spends $50,000. Through 2014, Mississippi Development Authority records show the state has given $8 million in rebates on $38.8 million in Mississippi spending.
The music incentives would begin July 1, 2016 and run through June 2019 under the bill. Martinson said she believed the delay would give time for more facilities to be set up.
“I feel like they will be lined up and I think there will be at least 20 recording studios,” she said.
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