San Antonio Sound Garden
How one San Antonian is cultivating the city's blossoming music scene
It's no secret that being a musician or professional in the music industry is a challenge in San Antonio. To address this, a new nonprofit organization called San Antonio Sound Garden aims to give people a place to work, play, network, and grow right in the heart of San Antonio.
SASG's 2,600-square-foot warehouse at Co Lab currently includes 1,500 square feet of office space to give musicians, music industry professionals, and aspiring artists a place to cultivate a thriving music culture.
For a monthly fee — $10 for individuals, $20 for bands — folks can visit and use the space to record, co-work with others, drink coffee, and use Wi-Fi. By committing to a year's membership, members receive their own desk and a more established working area.
The organization hopes to expand the office space to provide recording and producing outlets in the future. "The aim — no matter what we do — is to focus on the local artist and local musical entrepreneur," SASG founder Edwin Stephens says. "We're also about helping record labels and small companies."
The idea for SASG began about four years ago when Stephens was teaching guitar lessons to refugees. "A lot of my vision was coming up in San Antonio as a musician," he says. "To be a surviving artist these days is so multifaceted. In today's age, if you're going to be a musician, you have to know how to produce yourself to some degree. So much of it involves working space."
Stephens says SASG's current focus is on giving people that place to work, network, and advance their skill set. SASG is also working with AudioTree to get a venue for local bands to record performances for a video series.
"Just like when you have an active incubator for startups so people can experience rapid growth and share ideas, the music industry thrives when we have a place where everybody can work together in one place," says Stephens. "One of the cool things about our model is that we're giving people the opportunity to take ownership of their local music community in a central location," says Stephens.
SASG is planning an official launch celebration on Tuesday, May 31, at rooftop bar Paramour, where Stephens will share his vision for the future of the organization. Influential community members, including U.S. State Rep. Joaquín Castro and State Rep. Diego Bernal, will speak about the current state of the arts and music culture in San Antonio, while local musicians Alyson Alonzo, Brandon Cunningham, Deer Vibes, and fishermen will play the event with support from Lion Head Acoustics in Austin.
The event, while open to the public, is being hosted for SASG members. The $50 membership fee, valid through 2017, grants entry to the event, but also includes access to upcoming shows, member mixers, and flagship artist album release events. Guests can sign up here, at the door, or by emailing SASG's community outreach director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This launch event is one of four rooftop showcases SASG will host this year for its members. The group also plans to launch a campaign similar to Kickstarter this June along with a membership drive to share their vision of how the program will work within the greater community.
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