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ject to the whims and fantasies of New York desk jockeys, the state remains a unique bastion of regional roots. It continues to defy the sensibilities of the typical national marketing director carefully plotting his annual sales quota. While most major markets center around one or two large metropolitan areas, the Texas regional market encompasses large cities, a vast rural area, and distinct and well-represented sub-groups. The state’s unusually broad mix of music business activities has managed to mesh into the national structure. Houston is the home of ZZ Top, Texas’ premier rock group, as well as the state’s major black music organization, Peacock Records. Lubbock has given us Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings; San Antonio and Corpus Christi are centers of activity for a chicano record industry almost totally self-sustained by its Texas audience. 3 Waco is headquarters for Word, Inc., the largest religious music record company in the world; Dallas is the base of operations for Showco, Inc., one of the largest sound and lights companies providing stage production services to top-name pop music acts; and Austin, which supports a busy club and concert scene, is the present base of Willie Nelson and the point of origin for “Austin City Limits” \(a highly sucrecording studios, various music production projects, and a growing film industry, adds up to a desirable place for musicians to live and work. Texas would seem a good place for a new group to get a start in the music business. However, survival here may not guarantee successful entry into the national music market. Wherever they start, the initial leap into the music business for most musicians/songwriters is like a spin in a clothes dryer with a handful of marbles and a couple of cats. Few come through without scars, a tinge of paranoia, and a true hate for those who run the big machine. In a business sense, the young performer typically tries to advance from the status of an unknown, go-it-alone freelance to that of a well-known artist who by necessity often heads up a commercial operation grossing from $500,000 to $1 million annually, with many employees and sub-contractors. The ascent is treacherous and costly. The crucial stepping-stones to success are slippery: the artist must stabilize his income, organize a band, develop an audience, connect with a record company, find an honest manager, and produce and promote a hitall with some degree of continuity. Many musicians decide along the way that their chances of “getting it together” are better in Los Angeles, Nashville or New York, depending on which of the national recording centers appears most receptive to their styles. For the artist who chooses to stay in Texas, put together a band to perform original music, and does not have a record company, the local club circuit becomes his primary source of revenue. He might find a niche in one club or one city, but the musician out to establish himself regionally will try not to overexpose his music in one locale; instead, he’ll seek “gigs” in other cities to enlarge his audience and build demand for his music that will allow him to raise his fee. It is extremely difficult for the unknown bandin Austin, San Francisco or anywhere elseto break into better club dates, new cities, and higher fee brackets. Since the com 1.Billboard magazine, in its April 1 edition, reports on the results of a Warner Communications, Inc.-sponsored survey of consumer age trends in the American music market. According to the study’s findings, people 25 and over account for 55 percent of the total dollar expenditure for records and tapes; teenagers, it was found, were good for 23 percent, and those in the 20 to 24 age bracket, 22 percent. 2.Of the various musical styles indigenous to Texas, country music seems to be the most exportable. As a distinctive sound, country is building huge followings not only around the U.S. but in Japan, Scandinavia, Britain, Europe and Australia. Many Texas-based performers are country stars at home and abroad, among them Willie Nelson, Freddie Fender, Johnny Rodriguez and Jerry Jeff Walker, to name just a few. Joe Ely, a Lubbock singer-songwriter, was named the best new country artist of 1977 in England for his first record release, and the Texas Playboys, Bob Wills’ old band, recently won the Country Music 3.In South Texas, the Zavala County Economic Development Corporation is weighing the regional demand for chicano music to determine business potential for a possible record pressing plant in the county. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3