Over the years, I’ve put the question to local artists many more times. Overwhelmingly, I get meandering responses that consider all of the things that make Portland a great music scene—a plethora of venues and studios with a vast array of talent and sound filling those spaces.
Portland is bursting at the seams with creativity. We have community in spades. The DIY scene is robust. Industry? Not so much.
But how do you define industry?
The thing is, even some of the most engaged people in Portland’s music scene are not aware of the full picture (myself included), especially when it comes to the business of music. I’m always discovering new local services, arbiters of solid advice, and career advancement tools, and I find that others in the scene hold different keys to doors I never knew existed. Like little moons, we’re all orbiting our own planets rather than turning our attention to the sun that each of our planets orbit.
We lack infrastructure that can unify our efforts, look out for our collective interests, and make us stronger as a single entity.
The fact that there’s so much activity in Portland means that there is without a doubt a music industry here. We just don’t know how to quantify it, but I can guarantee that the music scene in Portland has a bigger impact on more individuals than other more recognized and advocated for creative industries—namely film and television.
Much like our city, the music industry is in development mode. Shouldn’t we have some say over how that development happens?
It’s time to assert ourselves: Stand up and make your presence known.
Alongside some great minds who have decades of industry experience in various facets of the music business (including individuals from RACC, Doug Fir Lounge, ROLA Music, Rumblefish, Kill Rock Stars and Ear Trumpet Labs), a new group aims to document the business that exists here so we can organize and look out for our vested interests. We want to quantify the scene so we can accurately represent the industry.
For now, Music Portland only asks that you raise your hand and be counted. Take the Music Portland Census:
Let us know who you are and what you do. Tell us why this scene matters to you.
Chris Young Editor-In-Chief