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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Musicians Priority Loading Zones Come to Seattle

3/10/2014  2:30:00 PM
Dawn Schellenberg, Department of Transportation, (206) 684-5189
Joe Mirabella  (206)733-9810

Musicians Priority Loading Zones Come to Seattle
A City of Music Partnership to increase safety and access for local musicians

SEATTLE - Mayor Ed Murray announced today that the city is implementing a low cost, phased approach to make it easier for musician load-in and load-out at live music venues around the city. 

"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."

Here is how it works. Five music venues have been selected to pilot the program and have nearby load and unload zones modified. The zones prioritize musician's use through branded signs. They include a yellow regulatory sign and City of Music™ branded ‘Priority Musicians Loading & Unloading' sign.

"Seattle's Music Commission strives to champion innovative ideas that help local musicians make a living making music in Seattle," said Jody McKinley, Chair of Seattle's Music Commission and vice president of Rhapsody International. "Implementing these priority load zones for musicians continues to grow the City of Music mission to support local musicians in a very concrete way."

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Office of Film and Music (OFM) have worked with local music venues to install the priority load signs at these first four locations serving five music venues:

  1. High Dive (Fremont)
  2. The Crocodile and Tula's (Belltown)
  3. The Triple Door (Downtown)
  4. Showbox at The Market  (Pike Place Market)

Each venue has slightly different circumstances and load zone times are tailored to meet the neighborhood and establishment's needs. The city will monitor the four locations to confirm they are operating as intended.

"This is a step forward in improving working conditions for club musicians," said Motter Snell, president of the Musicians Association of Seattle.  "Thank you to the Department of Transportation, the Office of Film + Music and the Seattle Music Commission for working with us and Fair Trade Music Seattle to accomplish this."

The City of Seattle invites other interested music venues to request similar load zones. To qualify for the Musician Load Zone program, interested businesses must meet the requirements defined in the Admissions Tax Exemption for Live Music Venues. If they do, the city will evaluate whether a load zone is feasible. Businesses interested in a musicians priority load zone sign should contact Rachel White, OFM's Music and Creative Industries Program Manager at or 206-684-8504.

"We were able to work with the Office of Film + Music and the Dept. 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."

How do you know if your music venue meets the requirements? Your venue hosts or presents live music on at least three separate days per week on a regular schedule; and hires one or more musicians to perform the equivalent of sixteen individual performances per week.

What is live music? Live music, for purposes of the tax exemption, is defined as an active performance of music by an individual or individuals who, at the time of and during performance, creates music or engages in an audible form of artistic expression, other than, or in addition to, any pre-recorded music, for an audience through the use of manipulation of voice, instruments, or electronic or computerized equipment or formats. As an example, if a DJ is only playing pre-recorded music, it does not qualify as live music.

Musicians Priority Load Zone Artwork
Musicians Priority Load Zone Sign in front of the Triple Door - photo credit: Rachel White
Local musician Nate Omdal loads in his base in front of the Triple Door - photo credit: Rachel White

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