When Seattle’s branch of the Hard Rock Café opened in downtown Seattle in February, the dining behemoth owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida put some skin into the local live-music game by including a medium-sized live-music space in its plans. To fill this space, the café hired former Loveless Records employee Amy Bauer as the club’s talent buyer, aka booker. Bauer had some success, most notably landing the very corporate-weary Thermals to play the corporate club’s grand-opening party. She also initiated a regular monthlong residency for local bands – but barely got that off the ground before she was let go in the late summer. Now working at Seattle’s Sarathan Records, Bauer says she has put the incident behind her but was willing to dredge it up for a brief interview.
Are you mad? I would say that I was more disappointed and hurt by the way I was treated after I gave so much of my heart and soul. I gave up a lot of my life working endless hours to help make the live-music venue a reputable room in Seattle. When I look back at it now, I’m in a much better situation personally and professionally, so I don’t hold a grudge.
What is the most difficult aspect of booking the Hard Rock? Trying to get people to look past the corporate brand in an indie-music city was probably one of the biggest struggles I had to deal with.
What does the Hard Rock need to do, in your eyes, to survive as a music venue in this market? They need to care about music again. And I say “again” because while I was there, I did everything one person could possibly do to bring legitimacy to a venue that many people dismissed.
If a company that prides itself on creating “authentic experiences that rock” can’t figure out how to run a music venue in the “City of Music,” then maybe they’re not really a live-music venue ... or maybe they don’t want to be. •