This month, youth leaders joined members of the Seattle Music Commission for a roundtable discussion on supporting youth who are entering Seattle’s music industry. Leaders representing Totem Star, KEXP, The Vera Project, 206 Zulu, Seattle Theatre Group, and MoPOP’s The Residency gathered at KEXP with representatives from the Music Commission and the Office of Film + Music to share resources and begin a dialogue on what young artists need to be successful.
Youth leaders and music commissioners entered the discussion sharing a common goal: learning from each other and discovering ways to support artists. “What I hope to accomplish out of this meeting is just finding better ways to help the youth have access to opportunities,” said ZAG, who was representing both Totem Star and The Residency. “Both performing opportunities I guess, and being able to build connections with artists and get into more opportunities to pursue their dreams.”
“I’m a student and an artist myself. My aspirations are to open my own nonprofit record label. What I hope to accomplish from this meeting is to gain a wider perspective on the issues of artists,” said Bryce Villatoro-Thomas, representing Seattle Theatre Group.
“My goal is to learn how I can best help to open up spaces for you all to work together, create change within our music industry climate here in Seattle, and uplift your communities by means of collaboration and really letting the City know, the City of Music know, what you need,” said Daniel Pak, chair of the music commission’s Youth + Community Committee.
During the roundtable, youth leaders and commissioners shared their thoughts and experiences with existing resources for Seattle artists. Many shared information on the programs and services provided by their own organizations. Participants also discussed the contemporary “DIY culture” in the music scene: what it means to them, what tools they use, and whether it is best (or possible) to really do things yourself as an artist.
While the group only scratched the surface during this first roundtable, participants left the meeting with hope and excitement for future conversations. “What I’m excited about is that these are happening, we got these [roundtables] off the ground,” said KEXP Education Coordinator Sharlese Metcalf. “So besides being a resource, I want to keep these going.”
The roundtable was followed by a youth-led open mic at The Vera Project. The young leaders from the roundtable emceed and coordinated a two-hour program that showcased all types of music, from punk rock to house. Several of the youth leaders performed themselves.
The Seattle Music Commission is currently working to create a directory of resources for Seattle artists of all ages, informed by input from the youth roundtable, and are looking forward to future conversations. If you have ideas for the Commission or want to learn more about how to get involved, shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.