What You’ll Learn…
- How Kevin Sur and his company, Artist Home, started the Timber! Outdoor Music Festival and what attendees can expect from the weekend’s festivities.
- Sur’s advice for music lovers who want to support local artists.
- Sur’s fear for the music scene in Seattle amidst the city’s recent boom and the nation’s econo mic hardships.
With ample experience as a touring musician in the band Lucky Strike, Kevin Sur knows what it takes to understand and appreciate the work of great musical artists. After high school, Sur wanted nothing more than to be in a band. After finding three guys who were willing to tour with him, he lived out his dream for a solid seven years until finally settling down in Seattle on the cusp of the pre-digital age (when iTunes was hitting its peak of popularity).
When his touring days ended, Sur found himself disenfranchised with the music industry and decided to start helping local bands book gigs for free. After completing his degree, he and his friends started the company Artist Home as a booking agency for local bands and artists. Sur knew he wanted to do his part to help change the music industry and push artists along the path to success. When he was approached to hit the stage again for a show at the Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island, he took the opportunity and immediately fell in love with the resort’s vibe and just knew something had to happen there. He worked with the resort’s owner and the first Doe Bay Fest was born. It is now heading into its 11th year and even spawned a movie called Welcome to Doe Bay. Apparently, someone saw that movie and wondered why a similar festival wasn’t happening closer to Seattle, so Sur got together with some friends and the head of business development for King County parks and gave birth to what is now known as the Timber! Outdoor Music Festival.
Sur’s goal was to make Timber the polar opposite of all music festivals we know today. With cheap beer, outdoor activities like nature hikes and star talks, a kid-zone, secret shows, and much more, all for just $99 for the whole weekend, it’s an experience that many have told Sur is the best of their lives. Sur personally loves that everyone who attends the festival seems really engaged with the music and events; there are barely any phones out and everyone is invested in just enjoying a taste of Seattle’s music scene and the great outdoors of the northwest. He makes it his goal to book every artist for the festival with a purpose and he often snags bands that no one has heard of with the intention of creating once-in-a-lifetime moments. This year’s lineup includes groups and artists like Sarah Gerritsen and the Shadow Catchers, Kyle Craft, Courtney Marie Andrews, and more, plus some Canadian bands like Petunia and the Vipers and the Velveteins. He’s also especially excited for a unique collaboration between the Northwest Tap Connection and Industrial Revelation, an event that will definitely be a can’t-miss (for more information on this festival, visit www.timbermusicfest.com).
Sur notes that he hears a lot of people say that the music industry is collapsing. However, he feels that we are in a place right now where we have the power to change things for the better. Big streaming sites like Spotify hold a lot of power right now because they control the majority of the money that should go to artists. To paraphrase Sur’s own words, digital companies have successfully distributed music on a platform by doing less work, paying less money, and doing less for the artists than the record labels that came before them. If you want to support local artists and your local music industry, you need to think about the artists’ culture and community; even something as simple as buying an album on Bandcamp or making music a part of your monthly budget can do wonders for strengthening the industry as a whole, which will only foster the creation of more and better music for everyone to enjoy.
Right now, Sur is scared for the future of Seattle’s music scene. Growing up in the Bay area, Sur was around to see this area’s rich and valuable music economy. However, upon returning from California, he found it difficult to even find local artists to go see and try to help with his company. Even now, Sur discusses the number of artists he has seen move to Tacoma, Everett, and even Nashville and L.A. because they can no longer afford to live in Seattle. With the nation’s income inequality issues, Sur wonders how we can make a difference on a local level. He compares it to slapping a Band-Aid on a severed limb; how much can we do locally to fix an American economy issue?
Not all hope is lost. Sur does note that stations like KEXP give him hope for Seattle’s musical future, for they represent all that we want radio stations to be. They give artists a voice and good art a vehicle to move forward, which is all that we need to start seeing a change. Sur still feels that Seattle is the best music industry in the country and vows to do all he can with his company to ensure that artists always have a resource that will take into account what is best for them and their points of view. If you want to support the future of Seattle’s music scene, head to the Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, buy an album or two, and give Seattle’s hardworking artists the respect and appreciation they rightfully deserve.
About the Interviewee
Kevin Sur is the founder of Artist Home, a support platform for musical artists in the Seattle area and beyond. Artist Home’s flagship event, the Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, is being held in Carnation, Washington from July 12-14 this year (2018). For more information on the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.timbermusicfest.com (hurry; they’re selling out fast!). You can also follow the festival on Twitter @Timberfest, on Instagram @timberfest or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/timbermusic.