There’s a certain glamour to the musician’s life, no doubt. But for many working musicians, the reality of scratching out a day-to-day living means long hours, multiple jobs, and low income.
Austin residents came together Tuesday to support the city’s musicians at the annual benefit day for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. HAAM is a nonprofit that connects uninsured musicians with health care, ranging from primary care to basic dental, mental health, and hearing and vision health services.
“The purpose is to get music out to the community and for people to see the value of live music in the community,” said Alison Silverstein, a HAAM board member and volunteer, at an afternoon performance at Whole Foods.
Whole Foods was one of more than 275 participating businesses that agreed to donate 5 percent of their proceeds for the day to HAAM. More than 200 acts donated their time to perform throughout the day at various locations hosting HAAM events.
The Austin area is home to more than 2,000 working musicians who are members of HAAM, and their average income is about $16,000 per year, Silverstein says. The music business, meanwhile, generates about $2 billion in annual economic activity to the city.
HAAM raised more than $300,000 on its benefit day last year, or about a third of its annual income, Silverstein says. HAAM, in turn, contributes to partner healthcare organizations, such as the SIMS Foundation, Seton Healthcare Family, and St. David’s Foundation. HAAM then helps arrange appointments for its members at the partner providers.