New Orleans can be a true music city, but it’s time for changes.

Published: August 10, 2022

Now that the “music city” of New Orleans has someone (Howie Kaplan, Director of New Orleans Night Time Economy office) who can be the liaison between music, musicians, venues, bars and restaurants, he needs some input on what needs to be done to improve the lot of local musicians and night time economy businesses.  Many other cities in the US and in Europe are following this model. What needs to be done, in your opinion? I have my own thoughts on the matter (what, you’re surprised?), and here are a few of the things I’ve observed that could use some attention (in no particular order):

  1. Create parking zones for musicians to loan/unload gear, especially in crowded entertainment zones, like Frenchmen, Bourbon Street.
  2. Create a security task force through neighborhood associations or business organizations to “police” entertainment districts. Require members of said associations/organizations to pay for policing, whether they have their own security force or not.
  3. Create tax incentive programs to enable and to improve noise abatement in all venues that present live music, including restaurants
  4. Require live music venues (including bars and restaurants) to keep their doors closed to help to ameliorate noise bleed to the street. When music is freely heard on the street, the value of the music itself (and thus the labor and art of musicians) is degraded. I’m talking French Quarter AND Frenchmen Street…
  5. Make it easy for venues to either have a door cover for music, or to charge a fee for patrons on their tab to subsidize music. Musicians and bands should not have to depend on a percentage of the bar for their pay. Currently, restaurants are prohibited by city zoning ordinance from charging a music cover at the door.
  6. Create standards for live music venues that include standards such as cleanliness, noise control, payment to performers and a branding campaign that will reward and promote those businesses who adhere to these standards in conjunction with New Orleans & Company (Convention & Visitors Bureaus).
  7. Create and disseminate a “handbook” for venues and bars and restaurants who have entertainment that has info on permitting, zoning, incentives, best business practices, training, hiring, parking, etc.
  8. Create a program to provide public restrooms for patrons of night events…and we need more garbage outlets as well.
  9. Eliminate or change the “grandfather clauses” that give some venues breaks on adhering to laws. Should apply to everyone.
  10. Create a means of disseminating information to the participants (including businesses,  musicians, venues and governmental resources) in the night time economy (OffBeat will be happy to assist!) on a regular basis.
  11. Create a publicly-accessible database for music businesses, musicians/bands and associated activities (like the “Louisiana Music Directory”—which needs to be revived as a digital-only product and must be maintained regularly).
  12. Institute an easily-used confidential reporting system that can continually monitor the night time economy in New Orleans.
  13. Work with the NOPD, zoning, health & safety, etc. to establish and create input on enforcement of existing laws and regulations.

Okay, so these are a few. If you have ideas, I would love to hear them; you can email to me at

I also have a few other observations. The local music community seems to me to be less cohesive than ever before. One of the issues is that there is an extreme lack of communication on what’s going on with our night time economy, specifically music. People and businesses don’t talk enough. In fact, they often compete with each other because they don’t have a clue what their peers are doing. Most recently, it seems that many bands and venues depend solely on social media or their own websites to communicate with consumers and others in the business. The lack of one or two sources of dependable information is glaringly absent, and is now relegated to the “silos” created by social media and the internet. It’s even become difficult for locals and visitors to find information on live music, given the various and sundry sources that are scattered about.  We cannot call New Orleans a functional music city unless we all work together towards a sustained, unified, ongoing marketing effort geared towards music and musicians: marketing, development, sustainability, educational tools are crucial. The time for laissez-faire is over if we really want to make New Orleans a true, welcoming music city.

The post New Orleans can be a true music city, but it’s time for changes. appeared first on OffBeat Magazine.

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