As if $420 million in annual handouts to the film and television industries wasn’t enough, New York State legislators are now proposing to give millions to the music industry and Broadway.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, introduced legislationcreating a music credit that would reimburse 20 percent of production expenses, including artists’ royalties, session fees, music videos and marketing, and would cost New York up to $60 million a year. Theater fans are getting some love from Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, who crafted a $5 million credit for 30 percent of a show’s production costs in an attempt to attract touring theater companies to upstate locations. 

New York already has a history of subsidizing its entertainment industry, which is the beneficiary of a $420 million film and TV production tax credit (that has been used in some cases to film shows about New York City in New York City). The governor’s tax commission has found that the credit doesn’t pay for itself — which means the state is spending money to attract a lot of films and TV shows that would have been produced here in any event.

New York is already a well established bastion for music production, including writing, recording and producing. According to data from the U.S. Labor of Bureau Statistics, New York in 2012 had the second-highest number of “musicians and singers,” trailing only California. New York also had the most “musical directors and composers” in 2012 and the third highest concentration as a percentage of jobs in the state.

And while Tennessee, which has a music tax credit, has a high number and high concentration of musicians and singers, Louisiana, Georgia and Oklahoma, which have their own music credits, didn’t crack the top five in 2012 for concentration or number of musicians and singers.

As for New York’s upstate theaters, they’re already the beneficiaries of millions in public money. For example, Proctors Theater in Schenectady — whose CEO, Philip Morr

is, is championing the theater credit —  was awarded about $3.5 million in Regional Economic Development Councilfunds in December.

Instead of spending millions to preserve a music industry that isn’t going anywhere or prop up a fledgling upstate theater community, New York’s valuable tax dollars would be better off in the pockets of current residents and businesses.

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