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Denver Music Summit (part 3: where does Denver stand as a Music City?)

If you haven't read parts 1 and 2 of this review, you might want to catch up on those before reading this final part.  The third topic discussed at the symposium was along the lines of "where does Denver stand as a Music City?"

A lot of conversation revolved around what Denver needed to do to become a "true" Music City.  Some of the participants felt that we already have everything in place, especially Laura Bond (Executive Director of www.flobots.org).  She felt that Denver has strong diversity in the music community.  Laura pondered about assisting artist development and employment and she was also interested in developing more music programs in the K-12 school system.

Chris Tetzeli (Red Light Management) said that touring musicians love to come to Colorado.  He said that we have a great energy here that attracts artists.  And even though Denver is somewhat landlocked, an often described island that can be hard to get to, he felt that word has been spreading about our scene.  He also felt that Denver is gaining momentum; whereas Boulder used to be the happening place just a few decades ago, he thinks that Denver has been brimming with new talent and a lot of talent "has trickled down from Boulder to Denver."

He acknowledged the transient nature of our state and also mentioned the need for more affordable housing for musicians.  Even though Denver in general is reasonably affordable, he said that efforts to create more affordable musician housing might help sustain the scene.  Chris also encouraged Music Resource Centers (like after-school progams, especially for at-risk youth).

In an effort to prompt a brand for Denver, Erik Dyce suggested "Venue Capital of the World."  He said that Denver is known for many quality venues.  Of course, Red Rocks is the ultimate outdoor venue in the U.S.  He mentioned that Red Rocks has tried several attempts at TV series to develop interest in the music scene, but to no real success.  But he sounded optimistic about "My Red Rocks," a sister web site for music videos to be announced soon.  It will include phone upload applications and they want to encourage bands to visit and blog about their experiences at this sacred venue.

Erik said that he felt musicians need to be paid for their efforts (of course, to rousing applause).  He also mentioned that Denver has rated exceptionally high in the recent CVI studies (Creative Vitality Index) and he felt that we should search hard for ways to increase that index number when and wherever possible.  He said collaboration is key and we need champions for the cause (as well as money).  But overall he was very optimistic about Denver's scene and felt that communication is possibly the missing ingredient.

Adrian Amodeo (Interscope Records) was the final speaker for the symposium.  He reiterated the affordability of living in Denver for smaller artists and its centrality for setting up shop.  He also emphasized the strength of the different music communities here: Boulder, Denver, CO Springs and Ft Collins.  Diversity and ease of cross-pollenization are strengths for our community.

Erin Trapp (DOCA) stated that this was a "transitional moment" for Denver, but she also mentioned that money was not readily available and so the private sector would need to be called upon.

At the luncheon followup to this symposium, Governor-elect John Hickenlooper also spoke.  He said that Chuck Morris had mentioned to him that "there are more talent scouts per capita in Denver than NY or LA."  He also mentioned the high CVI rating for Denver and said another strength was that consumer spending habits on music in Colorado "were two times the national average."

He said that "creative people want to be in beautiful places" - a big advantage for Colorado.  And he mentioned certain symbolic actions that could be taken to demonstrate Denver's comittment to creativity.  One example he gave was to have a freeze on taxes if your venue has four or more nights of live music per week.

His last words seemed to contradict conversations at the symposium.  He said that Erin Trapp with DOCA would remain in her department for the next seven months and he said that key things might be accomplished within that time frame.  But throughout the symposium talks it sounded more like DOCA was in a "holding pattern" and unable to contribute funds to worthwhile music movements and branding attempts.

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