In 1985, Mark Robinson sent a letter to Ian MacKaye asking about how to press vinyl records. The year earlier, he founded Teen-Beat Records in Arlington, Virginia. Initially, only one copy of each release existed. Now, the label has over 200 releases under its belt and has shaped the D.C. independent music scene alongside MacKaye’s punk label Dischord. Both Mark and Ian join us on this episode to talk Teen-Beat, D.C., and more.
In the early 90’s, Chapel Hill was dubbed “the next Seattle” after producing acts that got noticed beyond its state lines. Twenty-five years later, a lot has changed in the local and national music landscape but the core ingredients that comprise any music scene remain the same: venues, record stores, press, and radio. While in North Carolina, Portia spoke with local mainstays Chaz Martenstein (Bull City Records), Mark Connor (Cave/Slims), Allison Hussey (Indy Week), Sarah Schmader (Burn Sweet Booking), Aaron VanSteinberg (WXDU), and Stephen Mooneyhan (Local 506). Whether you’re just starting to perform or are a seasoned veteran, there are key players in your city’s music scene who can potentially give your career a big boost!
Like many creative cities, Portland is growing rapidly, but is the vibrant music scene that bolstered its reputation benefiting? The city is known as one of the nation’s hottest music spots, so how can we make sure that its beloved music industry thrives as Portland changes?
Record stores have long been an integral part of the music industry — not only as a place to purchase albums, but as a symbolic gathering space for music fans. While the development of MP3s, streaming and other digital technology has disrupted music retailers, some contend that the vinyl resurgence has all but made up for lost revenue. Yet, with countless popular and iconic record stores closing, it’s clear there’s more to the issue.
“Young people [are an] underserved population when it comes to the music industry.” That’s the point our guest Andre Middleton drives home on this week’s episode of The Future of What. In our discussion with Middleton (Friends of Noise, RACC) and Todd Fadel (The Meow Meow), we look at the logistics and pitfalls of starting and sustaining an all ages venue. Like many cities with rising rents and strict liquor laws, Portland has seen a slew of beloved all ages venues close in the last decade. Many people, young and old, still see the value in all ages venues. We talk with Claire Gunville (Semi Ok Collective) and Maya Stoner (Sabonis), both in their early twenties, about building an inclusive all ages community even without venues to turn to. The Vera Project in Seattle is often lauded for their all ages model, and their Talent Buyer Andrea Friedman gives us the low down on how they’ve survived for so long.
In an industry where it’s difficult to make a living, musicians have had to become more and more creative to survive, especially with shrinking royalties in their pockets. One way some artists have managed to succeed is to tap into — or create — a niche market. Whether it’s inventing a new genre or signing to an obscure label, their stories prove that there’s not just one path to success in the music business. Our guests on this episode share their unique approaches to what they do. We hear from Simon Tam, founder of Asian American dance rock band The Slants, who saw a lucrative opportunity in playing anime conventions. Charmaine Clamor, creator of Jazzipino, a genre combining Filipino folk songs with American jazz and blues, also joins us. Finally we talk with Eric Isaacson, founder of Portland’s enigmatic Mississippi Records.