Seattle, City of Music
Mayor Greg Nickels' Seattle City of Music campaign rocks. The music industry is huge in Seattle and City Hall can help grown a valued economic niche even bigger.
MAYBE it is not a not precise term of community development, but Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wants to build the city's economy using the rhythm method. His 12-year plan to bolster a rich, diverse music industry will make a good thing better.
For tax-weary citizens, one of the most appealing features of Nickels' Seattle City of Music campaign is that it seeks to better organize and coordinate existing talents and resources.
That means as the city promotes more live music performances and music-friendly venues, there will also be efforts to promote expansion of K-12 music education in Seattle Public Schools.
To grasp the breadth of the mayor's plan, and the work already under way by others, one has to expand the mind beyond clubs, bands and recording studios. Think radio stations, corporate music marketers such as Amazon and Microsoft, and the independent artists such as symphony musicians doing film scores. The economic survey conducted for the mayor's campaign found all sorts of niche businesses and employment, from specialized acoustical construction to the manufacture of sophisticated sound and recording technology.
The numbers are mind-boggling. Seattle's music industry created 11,155 jobs with 2,618 businesses generating annual sales of $1.2 billion. The study, overseen by Dr. William B. Beyers of the University of Washington, an expert in economic geography, found an export component that generates 40 percent of the industry's sales.
Nickels asked the Seattle City Council to forgive the city's admission tax on live music performances. That is a tough request in a tight economy, but the money has the feel of an investment, not a loss to the treasury.
By the way, the shows and clubs that feature live music — not canned tunes to drink by — are not the source of the rowdy behavior that make the headlines and upset urban neighborhoods.
The mayor's proposal is most appealing where it proposes to help a valued piece of the economy help itself.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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