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Musicians band together for loading zones in Seattle


Photo courtesy of the City of Seattle. (Click to enlarge.)

SEATTLE (Mar. 13, 2014) — A new group of Seattle musicians have notched their first victory in making life a little easier for area club musicians: musician loading zones at several area clubs.

Fair Trade Music Seattle is a grassroots campaign dedicated to raising the standard of living for all working musicians in the Seattle area. Although it has support from the musicians’ union, it’s composed of both union and non-union musicians.

At their first public meeting in August 2012, musicians had an opportunity to discuss with each other what kind of problems they were facing. One issue that came up was the difficulty club musicians have with unloading and loading their gear at area venues. Many music clubs are in heavily congested areas, and musicians are faced with either toting heavy instruments and equipment long distances or risking parking violations.

With the help of the Musicians Association of Seattle (the musicians’ union), Fair Trade Music worked with the Seattle Music Commission, the Mayor’s Office of Film and Music, the Seattle Department of Transportation and area club owners to come up with a solution to the problem. The result has been “musician loading zone” signs at four locations: the Crocodile and Tula’s in Belltown, High Dive in Fremont, the Showbox by Pike Place Market and the Triple Door in downtown Seattle.

“It’s amazing what musicians can accomplish when we work together,” said Nate Omdal, a bassist who plays jazz at area clubs. “We got great help from the Musicians Union, and wonderful cooperation from the City and the club owners.

“But the real lesson for me was that as musicians we actually do have the power to make change — we just need to get together and act.”

Musician loading zones exist in a few other cities, including music centers Nashville and Austin. But, noted Beth Fleenor, a clarinetist and recording artist, “Seattle is proud to call itself a ‘City of Music,’ and it’s great to see positive changes made to the working conditions in our city.”

fair-trade-musicFair Trade Music Seattle is part of a national movement that has its roots in Portland.

“We would like to thank the Seattle Music Commission, the Mayor’s Office of Film and Music, and the Seattle Department of Transportation for the help in making our idea a reality,” said pianist and Fair Trade Music Seattle founding member Jay Kenney. “We truly hope this will be beneficial to all working musicians in Seattle.”

The musicians will hold a public meeting within the next month or two to discuss next steps in winning improvements in their working conditions. For more information, email Paul Bigman or call him at 206-441-7600.

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