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City of Seattle creates priority parking for musicians

The City of Seattle has launched a new pilot program to create priority parking for musicians in front of live music venues. (City of Seattle image)

It's tough enough making a go of it as a musician in Seattle, but the city of Seattle is taking new steps to at least make it easier to get to their gear in and out of their gigs with the launch of a new musicians priority parking program.

Five popular venues around the city are taking part in the pilot program. The city is modifying nearby load and unload zones with branded signs reading 'Priority Musicians Loading & Unloading'.

"What we were hearing was it was challenging for musicians to get their instruments loaded from the curb and into the venue. Often times they would have to park a couple of blocks away and cart their gear down," says Dawn Schellenberg with the Seattle Department of Transportation.

The venues taking part include The Crocodile and Tula's in Belltown, The Triple Door downtown, Showbox at The Market across from Pike Place Market and the High Dive in Fremont.

It might not seem like a big deal, but the city is committed to doing all it can to help promote local music and the latest move is just the latest move in its ongoing City of Music program to support musicians and the local scene, said Mayor Ed Murray in announcing the program.

"Seattle's music scene is a critical part of our city's cultural draw and the quality of life in our city," said Mayor Ed Murray. "We want to better serve local music venues' needs and the musicians that play there."

Admittedly, the signs are mostly symbolic. The city has no official enforcement mechanism to make sure only musicians are using the spaces, Shellenberg says.

"It's not like we have a badge that says that someone is a musician. Our hope is that people will just realize they are in front of a music venue and that there are musicians that are coming to use it and they will allow them the space to unload."

The program is drawing praise from musicians and club operators alike.

"We were able to work with the Office of Film and Music and the Department of Transportation to find a solution that worked for us and for neighboring businesses," said Scott Giampino, talent buyer at The Triple Door. "Most significantly it means safer, more efficient loading and unloading for the musicians who play here."

The city is encouraging other music venues to request the load zones as well. To qualify, the venue must host or present live music on at least three separate days per week on a regular schedule; and hire one or more musicians to perform the equivalent of sixteen individual performances per week.

The program won't help an aspiring band score that big recording contract, but at least it will make it more likely they won't have to lug a 100 pound amplifier in the pouring rain for several blocks.

"This is a step forward in improving working conditions for club musicians," said Motter Snell, president of the Musicians Association of Seattle.

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