The Beat Goes On

The Beat Goes On
Author: 
Staff
Published in: 
May-June
2021

Passengers, flight crews and staff who loved the sound of live music at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) were understandably disappointed when the popular program was suspended in March 2020 due to COVID-19. In the meantime, the airport continued to play music from Northwest artists over its public address system and soon discovered a virtual alternative to fill the void.

This February, SEA debuted a 12-by-7-foot digital music wall in Concourse C that runs a two-hour loop of performances by local musicians. The production includes a variety of genres, with a heavy dose of soothing acoustic guitar and vocals. Some of the segments were recorded in artists’ homes, while others show musicians performing in natural outdoor settings or at local venues that closed due the pandemic. Local radio DJs introduce each act and appeal for donations to help support the artists, as many struggle to make a living while Seattle’s live music scene is on pause.    

Some of the selections playing on the high-resolution video wall seem to be direct references to the pandemic that inspired the virtual showcase—songs such as Love Without Location, Where Do We Go Now, Without You, and a cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.

Gigs4U, the agency that books live performers for SEA, spearheaded the project and plans to make a new video every six weeks. It also took responsibility for distributing donations received via PayPal and Venmo to the performers, and for paying the associated taxes and royalties. Promosa, an event production company headquartered in British Columbia, donated the large LED display and server technology; and Stingray/Chatter supplied the interactive technology. Gigs4U provides the content and program management; and SEA rounds out the collaboration by promoting the program with QR codes throughout the airport.

While additional music walls may be in the airport’s future, visitors and staff alike are eager for live performances to resume. Prior to the pandemic, local musicians performed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., seven days a week. In 2018 alone, SEA staged 5,790 hours of live local music at the airport. 

Subcategory: 
Artscapes

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