Pols hold rally supporting tax credit for music and gaming industries

It’s time for an upgrade.

That was the message sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo by elected officials, representatives of music-related organizations and video game industry leaders on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, June 12.

Two Brooklyn pols — State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol — urged Cuomo to sign into law bipartisan legislation creating a tax credit that supports the creation of jobs in the music production and video game industries.

The Empire State Music Production Credit and the Empire State Digital Gaming Media Production Credit were passed by both chambers of the state legislature last month.

“It is absolutely essential that we enact a program that will help jump-start New York’s terrible competitive status in these two industries,” Golden said. “The need for a functioning incentive program can be seen in that New York currently only generates a tiny fraction, estimated at less than four percent, of the $16 billion U.S., and less than one percent of the $55 billion global music production industry.”

“The music and gaming industry have the most creative people in the world right here in New York and we need them to stay here,” said Lentol. “I come from Brooklyn and I see music venues leaving all the time, not only because they can’t afford the rent, but because they seem to get no help from government.”

Recent estimates are that the U.S. music industry will be larger than $18 billion a year in just three years. However, New York is lagging in the field.

Justin Kalifowitz, co-founder of New York Is Music (NYIM) also expressed the need for the credit. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the huge drop in music production New York has experienced over the past decade,” he said.  “It seems that each passing month, another historical recording studio in New York closes.”

Ernie Brooks, former member of rock bank The Modern Lovers, was at the rally supporting the bill. “I think it would help music businesses to survive,” the musician told the paper, mentioning that the tax credit could help music the way it has helped movies. “I live in Long Island City and every week they are filming in the streets there. A lot of people say that the tax breaks they gave the film industry helped grow that. One hopes it would have the same effect on the music business.”

The discussion of the video game industry was also at the forefront. According to Golden, digital gaming in New York currently fares worse than music, with only one percent of the US $28.4 billion industry.

Vice President for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Tom Foulkes discussed the potential for gaming in New York.  “As evidence by the recent release of the wildly popular Pokemon Go, the creative and technologically innovative ideas are truly boundless within the video game and computer industry,” he said.

“The industry is a global player but where does New York rank as a place to do business and invest? We suspect it may be last,” said Guha Bala, founders of Vicarious Visions and Velan Ventures. “It’s New York’s turn because the talent base is here.”


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