Musicians, music industry, music tech and supporters of the San Francisco music scene congregated Tuesday night at The Chapel in the heart of the Mission District to hear a free panel of local music industry professionals discuss the state of the music business in San Francisco and how to save it presented by SF Weekly and The Root, a San Francisco/Bay Area music community, and sponsored by The Chapel.
Ian S. Port, music editor of SF Weekly, moderated the night's proceedings to a packed house on a rainy Tuesday night. Panelists included: John Vanderslice, musician and owner of Tiny Telephone Studios, Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, Guy Carson, former owner of Cafe Du Nord, Adam Theis, musician and founder of Jazz Mafia and Jeremy Pollock, Legislative Aide for Supervisor John Avalos.
In response to Port's article, "Exit Music: Musicians Are Leaving San Francisco. Can the City's Legendary Scene Survive?", the panelists were asked questions to answer the community's growing concern of keeping musicians in the music scene in the midst of the second tech boom in the Bay Area. The panelists were asked how could San Francisco help musicians live and perform in the city. Admittedly, gentrification cannot be simply stopped, and animosity for Google and the rising costs of housing throughout the city can be a tough issue to tackle, the panelists offered an array of answers.
Guy Carson, stressed the importance of voting and getting political to ease housing affordability, rent control for tenants, and to reform the Ellis Act through Senate Bill 1439 which would authorize San Francisco to prohibit those who buy rental properties to hold buildings for at least five years before evictions and to limit the Ellis Act eviction to one per life of the property.
Jocelyn Kane couldn't emphasize enough of supporting fellow musicians by watching other bands perform and to, "get off your *** and put your phone away". Kane also highlighted finding creative spaces to perform music: galleries, tech company lunches, restaurants and encourage these spaces to allow musicians and entertainers perform. Kane suggested to the crowd of using the Limited Live Performance Permit for these instances.
The panelists also told the audience to look at CMAC's website to help stop the evictions of artists.
Adam Theis suggested more musical organizations like The Root to bring the music industry together to have a voice.
The reality of venues, studios and musicians moving elsewhere was showcased on the panel, with John Vanderslice moving his Tiny Telephone studios soon to Oakland, and Carson now former owner of Cafe Du Nord, which has closed its doors and will reopen as a new restaurant (with live music hopefully). Although the reality of the shifting and changing music scene in San Francisco was clearly visible, various remedies were listed and the audience filled with musicians had their own ideas.
Questions after the panel were not really questions, but stories and ideas. The crowd ranged from musicians in the punk scene in the 60s, to the Blues and Jazz scene, to younger journalists and volunteers who wanted to have a say that age wasn't a factor in contributing to the music community. Robin Applewood co-founder of ULUV, a charitable music organization, wanted to make the audience aware of their mission to help musicians find new spaces to perform.
Tensions were high and clearly everyone in the room was invested in the future of San Francisco's music community, despite the varied ages, races and genres, everyone was reminded on why they gathered on a cold rainy night at The Chapel, as one audience member said, "Art is not about the money. Art is about the art".
San Francisco's music community is struggling to keep music alive and at least the discussion has started on how to keep it going.