An artist rendering of KEXP's new space at Seattle Center.
Mayor Mike McGinn announced a settlement on the fight over Seattle Center's Fun Forest Site


6 Things Seattle Music Fans Need to Know About KEXP's Move to the Seattle Center

An artist rendering of KEXP's new space at Seattle Center.
Mayor Mike McGinn announced a settlement on the fight over Seattle Center's Fun Forest Site that gives Dale Chihuly a massive, permanent exhibition next to EMP, and gives listener-supported radio station KEXP a spot on the Center grounds next to the all-ages music venue, the Vera Project. The mayor also announced plans for a playground, and green space on the current Fun Forest site.

Tom Mara, KEXP's executive director was cool to the idea of considering other Seattle Center locations after a citizen panel favored Chihuly over his station. But Mara say he agreed to put KEXP in what are currently the Center's Northwest Rooms because he believed it was the best of the six options the station considered--including spaces outside the center--for KEXP's new "complete music center."

Here's what this means for Seattle music fans:

KEXP's going to host fancy, in-studio performances that will be open to the public. KEXP has hosted more than 500 in-studio performances over the last year, many of them from touring bands stopping in town for a gig. The plan for their new space is to include an indoor gallery - much like the one used for exclusive performances during Bumbershoot - as well as an outdoor alternative.

Those in-studio sets could mean competition for the corresponding club shows, and in-store performances. KEXP's plan for the gallery isn't finalized, and they're not talking capacity, except to say "dozens and dozens" If the in-studio performances are half as cushy and sound half as good as what the station serves up during Bumbershoot, it could mean some actual competition for the band's show in the evening. Mara doesn't see it that way, pitching the in-studio sets more like a matinee teasing to a show at night. "We want to get people into these venues."

Still, it's hard to see what the incentive would be for a band to play an in-store set at nearby Easy Street after an in-studio set at KEXP-- not an uncommon occurrence today--especially if the new "complete music center" includes a store.

They'll be neighbors with Vera, so look for lots more collaborations. "It definitely presents some great opportunities for Vera and KEXP to work together," says Nick Turner, Vera's development director who also DJs at KEXP.

The new space might include an in-house music store or café. Mara says both are a possibilities, and that the station will spend 2011 designing the space and finalizing what to include in it. The earliest KEXP could bring their shovels to the Northwest Rooms is November of 2012, and it's anyone's guess as to how long it would take for the station to convert their new, 28,000 square-foot space. Until they move, they will stay in their current location and pay rent to Paul Allen.

There will be pledge drives. KEXP doesn't know how much the project will cost, but they'll be looking to their listeners for help. Bring. Out. Your. Wallet.

Expect lots of ads for the Seattle Center. If KEXP's worldwide reach did anything to help promote Seattle bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Fleet Foxes, Seattle Center is about the get the same treatment. KEXP will pay the Center $290,500 a year in rent. Of that, $228,000 will be paid for through on-air spots and "tags". Mara now calls the Center the station's largest patron.

P.S. Watch for this list to be updated throughout the day.

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