Detroit has enough problems right now, but one area where it’s dominance has continued is in its artistic role in the American rock scene. Most people simply associate Detroit with Motown, but needless to say, with a non-Motown roster that includes John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seeger, Alice Cooper, the MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges, Madonna, the White Stripes, and Eminem, Detroit’s legacy in American popular music goes much deeper. Yet, as NPR reports, despite the essential role of Detroit to American popular music and the city’s desperate need to revitalize itself around a new industry with the auto industry collapsing, the city is providing little to no support for the music scene.
Many Detroit musicians, such as Mary Ramirez and Rachel Nagy of the Detroit Cobras, figure it’s easier to live as a musican in Detoit with the lower cost of living. At the same time, they also said that since arts funding is always a low priority, it will become even less of one with the economic crisis the city is currently facing.
This state of affairs is particularly troublesome to Detroit lawyer Gregory Reed, who feels that the city could have become a music mecca that has fueled the economies of cities like Austin, Memphis, Seattle, and even similarly financially devastated New Orleans:
“We haven’t cultivated our music culture or our talent to create the industry around it except through Motown,” he says. “We haven’t harvested, we haven’t nurtured it, and we have literally neglected it.”
This study mirrors a similar study that came out about Chicago in 2007; of course, Chicago is in a much less dire situation than Detroit these days.