The Music District is a hub of innovation, a thriving creative ecosystem that is establishing roots in Fort Collins. On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Music District will celebrate its two-year anniversary with the “Surround Sound Bash,” a turbo interactive, music-drenched party to celebrate the Fort Collins music community.
Jess Reed, events coordinator of the Music District, says the bash will not only celebrate with great performances by musicians from throughout Northern Colorado, but through several fun activities, including learning to play an instrument, cutting a record with friends, live shows and a campus-wide scavenger hunt. There will be drinks, food trucks and “scores of musicians and fans, alike,” Reed said.
“We’re also adding a two-day run-up to the Bash called Surround Sound Labs on the 28th and 29th,” said bash director Jesse Elliott. “That part is less of a public celebration, though there are a few public components, and more of a chance to get together with our peers from similar projects all across the country and world in a kind of working think tank all across the music ecosystem of Fort Collins.”
The Music District exists to serve the needs of the bolstering ideals of the community it serves and support it with education, relationships and resources. Their programming spans three pillars – the art of music, the business of music, and the community of music. This includes anything from local musician meetups to statewide creative and businesses exchange programs to hosting globally cutting-edge practitioners to trade ideas with the best and brightest from Fort Collins.
“The MD offers lessons, workshops, music residencies, podcasts, academies and all sorts of other opportunities with the intention of meeting artists at their current level of craft and understanding, and taking them to the next level,” explains Erin Roberts, community manager.
The music industry is in a state of disruption with technology and change. In that shift, there is an opportunity for a musician to use entrepreneur skills to become the best artist and musicpreneur in the business. The Music District stands to be a support in that journey.
“The Music District serves as a living laboratory and playground,” says Julie Sutter, program manager. “The best way to understand how it’s meant for you is to explore and experience it in person. The Surround Sound Bash in September will give the public a free and fun entry point to much of what the Music District has to offer.”
The district didn’t start to create something new or change the Fort Collins music scene. It began to enhance what is already happening here. It can be the “glue” that bonds the ecosystem that so many have worked hard to build.
“It truly is whatever they want to make of it – that’s where our slogan, “Find Your Place in Music,” comes from,” Elliott says. “Musicians come to us for everything from fundamental technical questions and rehearsal spaces to touring advice and business connections to long-term strategic advice.”
Erin Roberts, community manager of the district, adds that “the Music District encourages musicians to collaborate and experiment, to push themselves to create work and new ideas that are outside the boundary of what they typically create. We do offer musicians educational opportunities but also find that so much opportunity comes from having space and time to focus on creativity. Our programming is community driven and a direct response to conversations with musicians about tools they need to build a foundation for the creation of great art.”
There is a big picture to unite the music community through the Colorado Music Strategy by Colorado Creative Industries and other partners, and also on the newly released Denver Music Strategy by Arts & Venues. One big hope of theirs is to continue to knit these different scenes together across the Front Range and the state, and eventually far beyond.
“Great music travels, whether geographically or digitally, and to make a living making the art you love, you have to be connected across many markets and scenes and creative communities,” Elliott says.
Surround Sound Bash is free to attend with RSVP, open to all ages, and will run from 4-9 p.m. RSVP for the Bash at www.themusicdistrict.org. Come to find your place in music at that event, or keep an eye their ever-expanding calendar of art, business and community events at themusicdistrict.org.
“We always come back to the notion that we can’t do all this work without such a great community around us,” Elliott says. “We want everyone to be a part of this, and hope they feel welcome to come to contribute to this place – and not just the Music District – that we’re all co-creating.”