Seattle To Musicians: Move Here!

Oct 29th, 2008 // 13 Comments

Sub Pop is preparing to give away $13,000 in an annual local scholarship program. That’s one of the many parts of Seattle City of Music, the oddly un-punctuated name of a new initiative being put forth publicly today at the Paramount Theater in downtown Seattle. The city’s mayor, Greg Nickels, is the host of the fete, which according to the latest press release will “announce [the] formation of [a] city music commission and [a] collective 12-year strategy to solidify Seattle as a home to music business, musicians and live music.”

The 20-strong committee readily acknowledges that Seattle’s already a solid music capital, calling the local music economy a “$2.2 billion industry.” There’s a plan to make Seattle a musician’s destination, in part by making the city more accommodating to them financially–in a city as festooned with brand new, overpriced condos as Seattle in 2008 is, eh? The committee is also planning to offer health care to musicians and spur a music education initiative beginning with K-12, both righteous things, and the plan to focus tourism on live shows seems fairly logical as well. (Especially with Mk. II of Belltown’s Crocodile Cafe readying itself to launch in ’09.)

Seattle City of Music [Official site]

  1. mike a

    Well, something‘s gotta stop the migration south to Portland. Although that $13,000 won’t buy much more than a one-year lease in a Ballard apartment (assuming you have roommates).

  2. mike a

    Having said that, there are some high-powered names on that committee – James Keblas (who co-founded the Vera Project), Kate Becker, Megan Jasper, etc. So as tempting as it is to be cynical, I’m certain that this is a good-faith effort.

  3. Michaelangelo Matos

    By the way, this post originally mentioned the Sub Pop money would be going to young entrepreneurs, but I’ve received a correction email and altered the post to reflect it.

  4. revmatty

    @mike a: I don’t doubt it’s all done in good faith. That doesn’t mean it will work, however.

  5. MTS

    Seattle: we have to pay people to live here.

  6. Michaelangelo Matos

    @MTS: Um, no.

  7. mike a

    Per Matos, Seattle’s definitely a place that continues to attract people, music/art types among them. But Seattle can’t decide if it wants to be Portland or Manhattan. It wants to be seen as a liberal cultural capital, but it also wants to attract and keep the Amazon.coms, the Boeings and the Microsofts (technically Redmond, but of course the city economy benefits). This could work if Seattle’s local priorities weren’t so misplaced. Seattle can’t build a decent modernized public transit system despite several ballot initiatives, but apparently has time to dither about whether or not to outlaw cheap liquor in Pioneer Square. (And let us not forget that at the very height of Sub Pop’s glory, the Teen Dance Ordinance was keeping local kids out of shows.)

    Don’t get me wrong: it’s awesome that Mayor Nickels & Co. can build an awesome new downtown library, create an official Film & Music Committee, and fund something like the Vera Project. But there has to be a reason why Portland has siphoned off so much local talent. I think it has something to do with quality of life; you can still get a cheap apartment in Portland and plug into a thriving local community. It’s just harder to do that in Seattle.

  8. mike a

    (sorry for the multiple uses of “awesome” – brain’s not awake yet)

  9. Michaelangelo Matos

    @MTS: I’ve lived in Seattle most of the last nine years. People move here all the time. My saying so has nothing to do with the initiative, which you seem to think I’m taking personally; I can assure you that writing a post about it isn’t the same thing at all. But you know, you looked at statistics, so you know far better than I do, living here and all.

  10. Weezy F Baby

    sheesh…Matos is kind of a dick.

  11. mackro

    mike a, you brought up some good observations, but I can assure you that, outside some whiney Capitol Hill neighborhood types who just moved here from elsewhere anyway, that “wanting to be Portland” (for better and worse) has no bearing on Seattle’s identity at all.

    Nickels does seem to look toward Manhattan, San Francisco, and Austin for planning models quite often, though (for better and worse.)

    MTS: if you had cut your original statement straight to the issue about not reaching out the outer neighborhoods, which is a valid issue, then you wouldn’t have been criticized. But “Seattle: we have to pay people to live here” is not the best way to bring that issue up.

  12. MTS

    @Michaelangelo Matos: Um, yes. If it was “already a solid music capital,” the city wouldn’t have to devise a plan like this to attract more creative types.

    Don’t get me wrong, things like K-12 music education are awesome, but I’m more curious to see how this new initiative attempts to work its way into the more segregated parts of Seattle society, rather than pander to the creative class.

  13. MTS

    Also, I have been staring at statistics for low-income and “ghetto” neighborhoods for the past four hours, so take that into consideration. Cheery “Music City” initiatives kinda pale in comparision, y’know.

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