Seattle musicians grab Portland idea to seek fair treatment

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A scene from the Nectar Lounge, one of the venues that has signed an agreement with Fair Trade Music Seattle.

You’ve heard of fair trade coffee--the idea to promote more equitable business practices for coffee growers in developing countries. Well, in Seattle, what many call “The City of Music,” a fair trade music movement is underway.

Fair Trade Market Seattle (FTMS) is developing the means to address issues that affect the music community, said Nate Omdal, a local musician among those spearheading the organization.

“Hopefully, as we progress, we can comprehensively cover money and wage issues, but for now there are myriad immediate problems that can be fixed,” he said.

FTMS already has reached a simple but effective agreement with 25 music venues, including the Seamonster Lounge (the first to sign the agreement), Nectar Lounge, both Showbox venues and the Royal Room. The agreement stipulates that the music employer will provide a written agreement outlining terms of the night’s business and supply the best sound support possible. If the night’s pay is based on revenue, the employer will provide a receipt at night’s end. The employer also agrees to openly discuss any issues resulting from the engagement with FTMS and anyone else involved.

Once the agreement is signed, venues receive an FTMS sticker to put on their door, indicating the partnership.

“As we establish our brand regionally and nationally, we hope to link all of the Fair Trade Venues together in a sort of ‘Safe Tour Schedule,’ ” Omdal said.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Jake Uitti

Jake Uitti

Jake Uitti is the co-founder and Managing Editor of The Monarch Review. He plays in the band, The Great Um, and works at The Pub at Third Place.