Stephen Sternschein is the Managing Partner of Heard Presents Entertainment, owners of Austin, TX music venues, Empire Control Room, Empire Garage and The Parrish.

Pat and Stephen discuss a mutual connection in Volunteer Lawyers for The Arts (VLA), the leading legal aid and education organization dedicated to New York artists and its arts and cultural organizations. Stephen was an intern for VLA during the early days of streaming music and the challenges that would present to artists and their revenue stream, while Pat raises money for them as an Auctioneer so they can continue supporting and protecting the creative community of New York City.

The discussion turns to social injustice and the current state of civil unrest in the Cities of New York and Austin, where both men live and touches on the need for societal change and the feeling that change seems to finally be in the air.

Stephen’s talks about his career from being an artist himself, to a lawyer in the music industry, to a venue owner and achieving his career dream of “having music in his life every day.” Stephen’s career in music has come full circle and his businesses helps artists stand up their live music and revenue stream, teach them how to promote shows and engage their social media outlets and followers in an intelligent and creative way, while also helping them to make the connections and take their art outside of the Austin market and onto the National scene. He sees a sense of community amongst the other local venue promoters and owners and helps them expand their audience and promote local artists, while helping to bring national talent to the stages in Austin.

Stephen and other small stage venue owners started a nonprofit coalition called NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) who’s mission is to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States. Although the organization just launched in March 2020, they have over 2,000 charter members across all 50 states.

The conversation naturally turns to how the pandemic and Covid-19 has affected live music and how we can find the road back to eventually reopening. Stephen expounds on what the future of live music events could look like post-pandemic, while discussing the idea of incorporating social justice initiatives in all festivals and live gatherings of people around the arts.

Get the latest updates here! Follow @festivalPass on Instagram Quotes: "I don't agree with what's happening in Texas Currently"

"The thing about NIVA - In 8 weeks we have gone from not existing to having representatives from our organization in every congressional district in the country."

"It had always been an option to add a charitable component to live events...I don't think it is an option anymore."

Links: Volunteer Lawyers for Arts -

Heard Presents -


Save Our Stages -

Episode Intro Music by Joakim Karud -

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