Would KEXP's Public In-Studio Performances Take a Bite Out of In-Store Sets at Local Shops Like Easy Street and Sonic Boom?

Brandi Carlile, performing at an in-store performance at Easy Street Records in Queen Anne.
KEXP's hoping to score Seattle Center's Fun Forest site to build new studios and open to the public their hundreds -- more than 400 last year -- of in-studio sets that local and national bands perform on the air every year. Station manager Tom Mara says he could see space for as many as 100 people inside the studio gallery, and possibly more during outdoor "in-studio" sets at the new location (if they win the bid, of course). But would public in-studio sets like this cause trouble for record store shops' in-store performances, currently a major source for getting feet in the stores? Possibly. Here's what we heard when we asked around about it:

Matt Vaughn, owner of Easy Street Records:

"Why don't they just send them down to our shop? I already got the stage. But maybe by doing it at the pavilion they feel as though they could get more people to come down. Seattle Center could use all the help they could get right now.

There's multiple times where they'll have an in-studio with the same artist we're having an in-store with. But if the artist feels they can knock two birds down with one stone they they may just consider doing KEXP and not coming up to my shop."

Jason Hughes, co-owner, Sonic Boom Records:

I think there's plenty of space for everybody, as far as I can tell. It's hard to say. We're all competing to get bands to play when they come to town.

It's gonna be impossible for us to compete on some levels. We don't have the same equipment, stage, seating area. We do what we can here. We're scrappers. I'm not gonna complain about it because I see the benefit for the band, and I see the benefit for record stores (long-term sales).

We're looking at different ideas. I'm calling it the surprise series. A huge band who most times would never be able to play in here because it would be mayhem, would do a surprise show here, and only announce 20 minutes prior on Facebook, email, and Twittter. Reward people who follow online and support the store. We're working on some other stuff here, something with a similar effect.

Tom Mara, KEXP station manager:

"We see it as a way to actually uphold those (in-stores and concerts). There are thousands of people who will be hearing that promotion (on air), which is a very powerful way to promote a show in the evening. As I mentioned before, we're not interested in the concert-producing business, because we have many relationships with the local promoters both on the non-profit side as well as the for-profit side."

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