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Austin supports a thriving pop-rock music scene

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Photo: Room 710Photo: Band onstage at Emo's

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With 200 live music venues, bringing in over $6 million, it's easy to see why Austin calls itself the live music capital of the world. One of the most important music scenes in Austin is the pop-rock music scene. The hard work and dedication of club owners, musicians, and record label and recording studio owners involved with this part of the Austin music scene is a testament to Austin's devotion to music.

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While most people think of Sixth Street when they think of live music in Austin, the Red River district is home to much of the pop-rock scene in Austin. Clubs like Emo's, Beerland, and Room 710 host local pop-rock bands like Grand Champeen, Fivehead, and Subset seven nights a week.

"It's definitely become the alternative to Sixth Street, which is great," says Graham Williams, who books bands for Emo's. "Sixth Street is a bit more notorious for being like a Bourbon Street of Austin, a party street, a lot of frat kids, and not a lot of what Emo's does. There are a lot of people in Austin, being a cool city and a fun place to live, that don't want to go to Sixth Street, but they want to go to bars, they want to hang out, they want to see live music."

Austin is also home to a variety of small independent recording studios and record labels, which help up-and-coming rock bands get their music heard

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"Austin has turned out to be a great place to have a studio because there are just so many bands, and most of the bands here have record deals, and that's what we work with," says Mike Vasquez of Sweatbox Studios.

"I started putting out records here in Austin because the amount of talent I saw wasn't really matched by any sort of support network like a city like L.A. or New York has," says Chuck Stephens, owner of Tight Spot Records. "There's no major label run out of here. The larger labels that are in this town focus mainly on country or Americana music, and only in the past two years I think I've really seen a certain amount of support for rock and roll, and so I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be able to support rock and roll."

However, the pinnacle of the Austin music scene is South by Southwest, when many pop-rock bands from around the world gather in Austin to get their music heard.

"The best thing that South by Southwest does is that it brings in a lot of bands who are able to see each other in one week," says Phillip Croley of the Parish. "They're able to see all these different bands that they hear about throughout the year. More than anything else it does, I think that's the most important thing. It creates a community among all these bands who'd never be able to see each other, meet each other, and just relate on a music level, and I think that's the most important thing it does."

Produced by Rose Russell.

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