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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tonight: Amnesia To Host Meeting About New Nonprofit Space For SF Musicians (Also: Free Beer)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 11:44 AM


Let's give credit to organizers of tonight's meeting of the Root at Amnesia. They certainly know the two words in the English language most likely to bring out local musicians: "free" and "beer."

But complimentary suds aren't the only reason to drop by tonight: This meeting is the first of a new nonprofit group that plans to build a new community center for San Francisco musicians. Although the plan is still in its infancy, organizers hope the facility will include rehearsal and hang-out space, resources for advice on performing and recording, and even subsidized housing in the middle of the city.

"There's a lot of hubs for techies and there's all these meetups for techies," says Jocelyn Kane, one of the founders of the Root and executive director of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission. "There isn't a hub for music -- there is no space for musicians."

With help from the city government and local developers, Kane and others hope that they can find a way to keep musicians coming to San Francisco from around the world -- and then keep artists from relocating to the cheaper, more spacious environs across the Bay.

"Instead of musicians having to move to Oakland or to the kind of outskirts of the city... they can live right here in the heart of the city," says Root organizer J. Snider, whose startup created the widely used Facebook music software Bandpage. "We believe [that] brings a lot of life into the city, and also creates economic value. [It] keeps the city alive."

Speakers tonight include prominent members of the local music industry, including Kane, Recording Academy Executive Director Michael Winger, and Snider. Supervisor Scott Wiener is also expected to come to tonight's meeting.

At Amnesia, the group will be introducing its idea to the community of San Francisco musicians, and soliciting feedback. Snider also hopes to begin the search for a full-time employee to develop the community center plan.

The Root's mission goes back to the original S.F. tech boom in the early 2000s, when the major Downtown Rehearsal space in the Bayview closed, sending shock waves through the local music scene. The city was able to get some money in an escrow account to build a new community center for musicians who had been displaced. Some of those funds remain today, and while they aren't enough on their own to build a center or buy a building, Kane says, they will make a good start.

As San Francisco gets ever more expensive and daunting to creative types, it's refreshing to see city officials and techie types working on a plan to do something about it -- even if it is just talk at this point. And while we've been known to rag on the tech folks for raising prices and changing the culture around here, the Root envisions what could be a very productive alliance between the city's tech and music communities.

"We as a group believe that the new center of the music business is San Francisco, because it's centered around digital distribution," Kane says. "You can make music anywhere, but the people who are all sitting around trying to decide how to manipulate that data are all here."

The Root SF will hold its first community meeting tonight at Amnesia, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Other meetings will follow in the near future.

-- @iPORT

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Ian S. Port


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