Musicians Off the Record: Nikki Rowling

Nikki Rowling is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Austin Music Foundation (AMF), a non-profit organization which offers programs and services for music industry professionals. AMF acts as an advocate for artists with a mission to educate, develop and advance careers in the industry. Rowling’s work typifies the independence of spirit found in Texas music as she maintains a network of like individuals and organizations who put their words into action. “The point is to teach artists how to build a career doing what they love, which is making music,” she states.

With a background in high tech business development and an honors degree from the University of Texas, the native Austinite has made the health and welfare of music people her primary purpose in life. To that end, AMF spawned an “Incubator Program,” a unique, year-long program that provides selected awardees a budget of up to $15,000 worth of services for recording and marketing a recording as well as the opportunity to be advised by the AMF staff and Board of Advisors.

An entrepreneur at heart and in deed, Rowling recognizes the strengths and fragility of the local industry. “The Austin Music Scene is different in that really, what we have here is a tremendously large and talented creative class. That’s really what sets us apart,” states Rowling. “Austin fans have it so good they don’t know what to do. Austin fans really take for granted what they have . . . You just don’t have access to all that really good stuff night after night elsewhere. There is pretty much something for every taste . . . We have a gluttony of good music.”

Another program which sets AMF apart is the Music Industry Boot Camp, a series of seminars offered bi-monthly to educate musicians about the business aspects of the music industry.  Each seminar is led by a panel of local and national experts who inform musicians about ways to make intelligent decisions pertaining to their career development. “Music Industry Boot camp is something we learned out of all the market research we did . . . the idea came from the artists themselves.”

Rowling continues to search for ways in which AMF can act as an umbrella organization and partner with others who serve the music community, but warns, “we are at a critical juncture.” As the Texas music industry watches its economic impact increase, the cost of living and doing business in the city is taking a toll on artists. “It will always have the core of the downtown music scene but in order to survive, some of the Austin community will have to adapt. We will need to balance things that will preserve our musical heritage.”