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MusicPortland Members with Jamie Dunphy
photo by Stephen Tack
MusicPortland Members with Jamie Dunphy photo by Stephen Tack
Public commenter at Town Hall
photo by Stephen Tack
Public commenter at Town Hall photo by Stephen Tack
Public commenter at Town Hall
photo by Stephen Tack
Public commenter at Town Hall photo by Stephen Tack
Jamie Dunphy
photo by Stephen Tack
Jamie Dunphy photo by Stephen Tack

MusicPortland Community Forum: Live Nation Venue Coming to Portland?

BOB HOWARD // On Monday, September 11, MusicPortland held a community forum on the proposed development of a new 3500 seat music venue to be operated by Live Nation. It has a spawned a very large controversy.

MusicPortland held a community forum at Bunk Bar on Water Avenue last Monday about the proposed development of a new 3,500 seat venue, 2,000 standing and seat 1,500 mezzanine, to be operated by Live Nation. Local developers Beam Development and Colas Construction are proposing to build the new venue. The proposed location of the venue is on vacant land between Southeast Water Avenue and Interstate 5, just north of the Hawthorne Bridge.

There were over 75 individuals in attendance including representatives of venues, production companies, local promoters and the music trades including MusicPortland business members Mike Quinn of Monqui Productions, Jim Brunberg of Revolution Hall, Mississippi Studios, and Polaris, Jimi Biron of McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, Leah Mocsy of Alberta Abbey, Shelley Garrett of Artichoke Music, Peter Damman from the Waterfront Blues Festival, and Lisa Abuaf and Amy Nagy of Prosper Portland.

During the open forum, members of the audience stood to make comments. The comments from the members of the local music community predominantly expressed strong concerns about the negative impacts of a large corporate actor like Live Nation. Independent musicians described the struggle of working as a musician in Portland, and offered suggestions for ways the Portland independent music community can unify and protect their livelihoods.

Meara McLoughlin, Executive Director of MusicPortland, echoed the view of the participants, "Portland is the largest independent music scene in any major city in the United States. About 95 percent of the music production business is locally owned. With virtually no public or private through grants or community support funding, we have created an internationally respected music ecology with incredible local talent, more independent venues than any other city, and one of the most engaged fan bases in the U.S. We have scraped and sacrificed to create this value and do not want it sold to a corporation that will extract from it and sell it back to us at a premium."

Participants at the town hall were unified against having an outsider come into the Portland music scene. Jamie Dunphy, board member of MusicPortland and Chair of the Music Policy Council, summarized the views of the community saying, "We need the private and public sectors to come together and invest in Portland's music scene. We're grateful to Prosper Portland, Beam Development, and Colas Construction for showing us that there is a need and great benefits to investing in music in this community. But Live Nation is not the kind of business we want in Portland. If this were any other operator coming into Portland to make this kind of infrastructure investment, we'd be having a very different conversation. Live Nation would actively devastate our independent music economy just like they have done in every other community they enter."

Prosper Portland will be hosting a roundtable conversation to finalize the economic impact study being prepared by Johnson Economics study on the development of the venue and its operator Live Nation venue next week. The invitees include the developers, Live Nation, MusicPortland, the Music Policy Council, the Independent Venue Coalition, the Central Eastside Industrial Council, Travel Portland, Representatives of the Portland City Council, Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, OMSI, and Monqui Productions.

MusicPortland shared their presentation to the members with OMN.

MusicPortland videotaped the meeting is available on their YouTube channel. The video of the meeting was provided to OMN.

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Danice Brown, Former Chairman of the Board, Artichoke Community Music

Portland has its own “unique music scene”, and fortunately, a great number of talented musicians enjoy playing in the variety of venues the city has to offer. I would like to see all of us out enjoying and supporting Portland’s Music Scene. Supporting local musicians and the many venues featuring music nourishes the growth of talented local musician…as well as bringing sustainable revenue to local music venues. Let’s keep Portland’s Music Scene accessible by supporting our local venues who take pride in featuring local talent.

rob cullivan

I have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I don't want to see an independent scene crushed by a giant corporation. On the other hand, as a musician, I have to say venues here are a real mixed bag. Some treat you well and pay you well -- others make you essentially foot the bill for sound, etc. If every indie music venue were serious they'd BUDGET to pay acts. It doesn't have to be a ton of money, but I've literally seen an entire nights pay go to the sound person, while the bands were left with choosing between corn dogs and overpriced drinks as their comp. One bar was fantastic to my band -- the owner charged no cover at the door, and counted out the night's take in front of us and gave us 25 percent. I almost fainted in shock since that's so rare. Let's be honest, there have always been clubs that are artist-friendly and work hard to ensure they get a share of the night's take, and others that basically make bands pay to play. So I'd have to see which venues are on which side of this -- and I'd tell LiveNation if you want to win over the artists, put on monthly showcases for local acts and PAY them. I've been in a ton of "scenes" and heard it all through the years -- there are really only two types in the music business -- those who share and those who don't. You want to beat LiveNation in the goodwill battle? Make sure your acts are taken care of and make sure your patrons are as well.

donny persons

where does the development stand now?

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