Emerald City Artists Finding Greener Pastures

Recently, reddit had a post about the end of Decibel Festival, an annual electronic music festival similar to Austin’s SXSW. In its 12-year lifespan, I have participated as a patron, a driver, and press. Although cobbled together at times, it was an event unique to Seattle and right up my alley musically, socially, and culturally.

DB is going away because the guy who ran it found a better opportunity in Los Angeles. I think he should have handed it off to a local, but either way his move is part of a larger trend. Tangentally, a redditor responded to the post with a Seattle Times article about why bands leave Seattle.

As someone who considered a move last year, I could relate to the sentiment of this article (although it focuses on musicians and not artists in general). It’s not just the tech boom pushing out lower-income talent. The loss of inspiration, feeling like you’re doing the same 5 gigs over and over… you want to see what else is out there.

Then again, people also come back. As I learned during my trial runs in other cities, there’s a solidarity among artists in Seattle that many other cities don’t have. I like that most people out here get the joke and can offer feedback beyond, “Oh you’re doing a different thing. That’s neat!”

As we experience this time of enormous growth, I think the broader question is whether the culture will grow with it. People fall in love with Seattle’s rarities and move here, but only a small percentage seem to give back in a way that fosters that uniqueness. We’ve done a good job luring in some of the brightest technical talent. How can we do the same with creative artistic talent?

I know I’m not the first to ask this, and I won’t be the last. I may add to this post later on. I may try to create something. Time will tell!

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