Tiesto. Meek Mill. Steve Aoki. Jessie Ware. Eric Church. PartyNextDoor. Misterwives. Robin Schulz. Young Thug. Maroon 5. This list contains a variety of well-known artists, including some among the top artists in their genres. Each played sold out or nearly sold out shows in our nation’s capital. Even more impressive is that each of these artists played in D.C. in March alone.
There is no doubt that D.C. has a thriving music scene. The city has some of the highest ranked clubs in the country for DJs and dance music. From the Verizon Center to the Black Cat to the 9:30 Club, there are a wealth of places of different sizes that can accommodate any number of artists, making D.C. one of the most frequented cities for tours on the East Coast. In recent years, nearby festivals such as Sweetlife, the D.C..Jazz Festival, and Firefly a few hours away provide high quality festival options for avid music fans. Comparable perhaps only to cities such as New York or Los Angeles when considering live music, it is hard to believe that there can be drawbacks to such an environment.
However, on a campus such as Georgetown’s, these drawbacks quickly become apparent. The University’s somewhat distant position from the city’s major attractions and the large number of artists that visit create unique problems for students hoping to engage in the music scene.
Georgetown is within reach of the greater city of Washington, D.C., but is to an extent isolated in its smaller neighborhood. Without a metro stop, going into the city requires thought and planning. Each concert listed above was an approximately 20-30 minute drive from campus, a distance that often requires a taxi since accessing the metro through Rosslyn or Dupont Circle adds a significant amount of time. Take for example a concert at the 9:30 Club, which hosted back-to-back sold out Passion Pit shows just a few weeks ago. A Georgetown student could take a 40-60 minute trip using the GUTS bus and metro and only spend about $3. However, most would take the 20-minute taxi that – without surge pricing – is an additional $10-15 with Uber. Double these costs to account for the trip back to campus, and the added cost of transportation to the concert is significant.
Furthermore, the large number of artists who perform in D.C. can have a negative impact as well. Although this provides many choices for students to hear live music and see their favorite artists live, it can arguably prevent them from being exposed to new musicians and different genres that they may not know much about. With numerous options, students are less likely to pay to attend shows for artists they don’t know as well. For example, the Georgetown Program Board Spring Kickoff Concert did not completely sell-out this past year, falling just short of the 2,500 capacity in McDonough Arena. GPB brought The Chainsmokers and Matt & Kim to campus, charging students $20 for admission. In September, The Chainsmokers sold out Echostage, a 4,000-person venue in D.C., and a few weeks ago in May, Matt & Kim played back-to-back sold out shows at the 9:30 Club, a 1,200-person venue, with tickets for both artists priced at $30. More importantly for a university, the city’s music scene can prevent students from attending more student music concerts and supporting their peers. Organizations such as WGTB (Georgetown Radio), the Georgetown Program Board, and the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance host many events throughout the year that feature talented Georgetown student singers and bands. Despite low ticket prices or free admission, turnout for events such as a Battle of the Bands is often under 100 students, a figure that seems surprising given the interest in music on campus.
Overall, the double-edged sword that is the D.C. music scene has far more benefits than drawbacks. Still, it is important that students make greater efforts to support their fellow Hoyas and help the music community on campus grow and develop, while at the same time expanding their own interests by getting more exposure to different kinds of music.
Andrew Minkovitz is a rising junior in the School of Foreign Service. Tuned In appears every other Monday at thehoya.com.