New City Music Manager: Erica Shamaly

Marketing veteran takes over top municipal music post

Erica Shamaly
Erica Shamaly

Erica Shamaly, who for the last three years worked as director of marketing for ACL Live at the Moody Theater, has been made the new manager of Austin’s Music & Entertainment Division.

The announcement came Monday night at the monthly Music Commission meeting. Shamaly, accompanied by Economic Development Department head Kevin Johns, addressed the board and spent 30 minutes fielding questions about affordability for artists, creating music opportunities for youth, promoting genre diversity, professional development, executing programs from the mayor-commissioned Omnibus Report, and Agent of Change policy as it relates to CodeNEXT with an impressive command of the subjects.

“I feel like every job I’ve had, which have all had ‘Austin’ in the title since 1998, has been leading me to this moment,” said Shamaly, who co-founded the Austin School of Film and served as director of business development and marketing for Austin Psych Fest/Levitation. “I have a really keen sense that economic development is extremely important for artists and musicians to thrive, and for our culture to thrive. I don’t want to see any more people leaving.”

Shamaly will be just the second person to hold the city’s top music position since the office was founded in 2010. Don Pitts held it from its creation until February when he quit, writing in his resignation letter, “I realize it is time for me to not work within a bureaucracy any longer.”

The stated role of the office is to accelerate economic development in Austin music while functioning as a centralized resource center for the industry. Pitts decried that during his tenure, the leadership position evolved to focus too much on sound enforcement, permitting, and ordinances, but the office has since added another position that takes that weight off the manager, allowing them to focus on programs that drive the local music economy.

In late April, the city put up a job listing that required applicants to have an undergraduate degree and five years' experience in a related field. That “now hiring” post was simultaneously the most tempting, yet daunting gig to pop up in the music community all year, yielding dares across the scene: “You do it!” “No, you do it.” It’s a job counterbalanced with power to bolster economic opportunities for musicians and the constant hurdles of governmental red tape and budget limitations.

Last Thursday, “Playback” leaked a list of seven finalists for the position that leaned heavily on current city employees. Leaders at the EDD initially planned to trot out several candidates to see how they were received by Austin’s music cognoscenti. That plan was ostensibly aborted.

Kevin Johns, who oversaw the hiring process, said that while he was impressed with the many talented applicants, Shamaly was “by far the top candidate.”

Shamaly, a UT grad who’s lived locally since 1990, stood out from the list of candidates as the one you’re most likely to run into at a concert any night of the week. For that reason, she’ll likely be viewed by venue owners and musicians as a representative who, at the very least, understands their environment.

“A lot of my best friends are musicians and I know a lot of venue owners,” Shamaly told the Music Commission earlier this evening. “It’s been tough for them, but I’m so heartened to see what’s happening so that we can solve these issues as quickly as we possibly can and create a foundation for our creatives to actually make a living.”

She added that she’d like to promote increased collaboration with Austin music on a worldwide industry level through city programs:

“We need to have more direct pathways for these musicians to make money, like licensing their music. It’s not just playing local gigs. It has to be a sustainable revenue source that artists can depend on.

“I want musicians to be able to send their kids to college and not have to worry about it,” she concluded.

Shamaly begins work July 24.

The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

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Erica Shamaly, Music & Entertainment Division, Music Office, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, Kevin Johns, Don Pitts, Music Commission, Economic Development Department, Omnibus Report, CodeNext, Austin School of Film, Austin Psych Fest, Levitation

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