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As Detroit Turns Around, Will The Detroit Music Scene?

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The city of Detroit is in the midst of huge changes. They are in the middle of bankruptcy with an emergency manager, they have a new mayor who is trying to bring in billions of dollars to get the D moving back in the right direction and a lot of business entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the open spaces and cheap building prices to bring jobs in where none existed before. All of these changes will begin to bring people back to the city along with better city services to address safety issues and improving schools. The question is... will a resurgence in the city of Detroit affect the Detroit music scene?

The answer lies in the space between the suburbs. Even if the city is reborn and gets back over a million residents, it's not going to help the music scene unless a mass transit system is put in place. A safe one where people can travel to attend concerts and gigs from city to suburb and back again. This metropolitan area is too widespread to be brought together as a "scene" without it. Until that happens, it's going to be the localized scenes of the west side, the east side, downriver and Detroit and never the twain shall meet. I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule but they are few and far between.

I'm not offering solutions other than that because I'm not sure there are any. It's a long hard road that we are on to recovery here and I am guessing that it will be an even longer road for musicians, venues and promoters. 2014 will hopefully breathe new life into an area that has been slowly declining and decaying for decades and we can begin that long, uphill climb towards being the metropolis we once were.

I believe that modern promotional tools like internet radio and social media go a long way towards bringing people together from different ends of the suburbs but they will never be as effective as terrestrial radio and tv, which are way too expensive for a local band to try and promote themselves on a regular basis. Flyers and stickers are still good branding tools but there is a lot of driving involved in order to hit every corner of southeastern Michigan with them.

Will Detroit turn around? Most likely. How long will it take? My guess would be 2-10 years before we see any measurable progress and our grandkids' bands will be gigging by the time we see a major turnaround from this point but at least we're starting to move forwards instead of sliding slowly backwards for 40 years. I wouldn't look for it to bring any major booms in this music "scene" any time soon, though. It's going to be a long, painstaking process so bring your patience.


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