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Governor Charlie Crist today, continuing his focus on strengthening Florida’s economy, directed the Office of Film and Entertainment within the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development to establish a Music Recording Industry Task Force to identify issues impacting Florida’s music recording industry. The task force will also develop recommendations regarding strategies for strengthening and expanding Florida’s current music recording industry.

“A rich variety of music from many cultures permeates Florida’s lifestyle, with many recording artists and recording studios calling the Sunshine State home,” Governor Crist said. “In the same way we have been able to attract and retain Florida businesses in other entertainment sectors, I believe we can do the same for the music industry.”

Governor Crist requested that the task force place special emphasis on supporting the growth of Florida’s culturally rich and diverse music industry as well as recommend strategies to achieve the following:

· Preserving our music heritage, promoting continued creativity, and assisting the state’s music industry in reaching its full potential.

· Identifying and promoting existing resources and establishing new ways to showcase Florida music and talent.

· Protecting the entrepreneurial products created by lawful producers of sound/audio recordings.

· Working with the Florida Legislature and Florida Congressional delegation to improve support to the music industry.

Governor Crist called on industry leaders to bring a music festival to Miami. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group that represents the United States recording industry, Florida is considered a home state for the music industry, providing 10,258 Florida jobs in the core music industry and a total of 47,911 jobs directly and indirectly related to the industry. Further, South Florida is the gateway into Latin America for Latin music produced in Florida. Four major music labels have regional offices in South Florida, with all of them basing their Latin music branches on South Beach in Miami Beach.

Joining Governor Crist for the announcement were Gabriel Abaroa of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, John Echevarria of Universal Music Latin America, Herta Suarez of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and recording artist Eric Monte-Rosa.

The Office of Film and Entertainment, directed by Lucia M. Fishburne, is tasked with developing, marketing, promoting and providing services to the state’s entertainment industry, which includes the production of music videos and sound recordings, as well as motion pictures and television. To help achieve this goal, Florida currently offers an Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program, created within the Office of Film and Entertainment, to encourage the production of film, television, digital media and entertainment in Florida and to sustain the workforce and infrastructure for film and entertainment production. Under the incentive program, qualifying music videos may be eligible for a maximum of $500,000 in incentive funding. Additionally, sound recording businesses also qualify for a sales tax exemption in Florida.

“The recording industry, like the film and television industry sectors, is in rapid transition as new technologies provide more vehicles for consumers to access entertainment products. I welcome working with the industry experts to learn more about how to protect and grow Florida's music industry,” said Fishburne. “Governor Crist is to be applauded for including this industry in Florida's efforts to expand the creative and technical core of talent that contributes to our state’s innovation economy.”

Florida’s rich musical heritage includes many well-known past and present Florida musicians and recording artists, including Jimmy Buffet, Allman Brothers Band, Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cannonball Adderley, Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine, Willy Chirino, Arturo Sandoval, "Mel" Tillis, Gamble Rogers, Will McLean, Slim Whitman, Derek Trucks, Bo Diddley, Creed, ‘N’ Sync, Backstreet Boys, and Vassar Clements.

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