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San Antonio musicians, music producers, managers, and others in the industry may soon have a coworking space where they can foster their skills, build their businesses, and take part in the “cross pollination” of ideas.
It’s called San Antonio Sound Garden, and local musician Edwin Stephens, founder and president of the nonprofit, said the space will reinvigorate the local music scene.
“We believe that a rich music industry and music economy brings value to the culture of San Antonio,” Stephens said. “We believe that the community will see that value of the culture and want to take ownership of the music community and support it.”
San Antonio has always been rich in history and culture, but Stephens said the local music economy as-is can’t sustain musicians and musical entrepreneurs. The lack of sustainable resources and funding makes it difficult for San Antonio artists to develop their craft and reach more local and national audiences.
The first phase of the project has Stephens converting his 1,500 sq. ft. office space at 723 N. Alamo, which he rents from CO LAB coworking space, into a recording and production studio for local musicians. But ideally, with the help of community contributions, SA Sound Garden will eventually grow to provide private office spaces and conference rooms.
“Basically like a Geekdom for the music industry,” he said.
Stephens aims to raise awareness and funds for the organization at the SA Sound Garden official launch party – a musical showcase and mixer – on Tuesday, May 31 at 7 p.m. at Paramour, 102 9th Street, Suite 400.
Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at the door. SA Sound Garden membership is included with the fee, and gives you special access to quarterly showcases, member mixers, flagship artist CD release events and more.
All funds raised at the event and beyond will sustain SA Sound Garden so it can provide networking events, recording and producing equipment, and workshops for members.
Stephens will use the May 31 event to create excitement and curiosity about SA Sound Garden and will also share his vision for the future of the organization. It has already piqued the interest of several government officials like state Rep. Diego Bernal (D-123), a fellow musician, who will be at the event and will touch on the current state of the arts and music culture in San Antonio. U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, who heard of the project from SA Sound Garden Business Strategist Noah Breeden, will also make an appearance in support of the initiative.
“It’s an opportunity to go hang out, watch some of the best artists in San Antonio do what they do, and also network and hear about what’s happening in the local music industry,” Stephens said. “It’s also an opportunity to get involved and help support. We’re reaching out to as many people as we can to help fund and build this community.”
SA Sound Garden has already began to make its mark on the community. The group hosts a monthly musical forum, Las Raices, which convenes the first Tuesday of every month and provides a platform for local artists and musicians to develop strategies to bolster the city’s music economy.
The organization will soon begin hosting its first round of studio performances next month in partnership with Texas Public Radio and Alamo Beer Company, Stephens said, where local musicians and bands will record and perform for small groups in a setting similar to National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concerts.
As SA Sound Garden’s grows, Stephens hopes to collaborate with local music advocacy groups like The Music Project, SATX Music, and others. He thinks the business model is unique because “we’re the only ones doing this specific vision … there are all these different entrepreneurs and musicians in the community, but we’re the first to bring it all together.”
There are already a number of artists that are interested in utilizing the SA Sound Garden coworking space when it’s available, he said, but he hopes that after the launch party, more community members will be inspired to contribute to the nonprofit’s mission.
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“It’s a really big vision,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great help from the community, we’ve got the talent and the entrepreneurs there, but we need the greater community’s help to buy in and help this vision happen.”
Top image: A guitar is placed on the ground between songs at the Tobin Center during YOSA’s performance of OK Computer Live on in July 2015. Photo by Scott Ball.