The Alternative Library (or Alt.Lib as it is known) is a grassroots, independent nonprofit in downtown Bellingham founded to foster and promote local artists. Located in the former Tiger Toys space on Railroad Ave., the Alternative Library not only houses an eclectic collection of books, they offer studio space for painters and will soon branch out into offering music recording and performance space as well. The local music scene offers many opportunities to perform, but it can be difficult to produce and distribute recorded material. Studio time is expensive, and professional engineers don’t always meet the needs of the artists they record. To solve this problem, Ian Reed, Joel Kenworthy, and Ian Christensen teamed up and started Puget St. Studios, which will soon be housed on the second floor of the Alternative Library.
The organizers of Puget St. Studios have spent the last three years collecting recording gear and operating out of their house. They grew out of their space, and the Alternative Library agreed to take them in. Working in partnership with a loose conglomeration of musicians and recording artists called Teenus Koytus, Puget St. and the Alt.lib are planning to charge a recording fee of only $25 a song to cover the cost of the space. Most recording houses charge a hefty per-hour fee, rather than per-track. Puget Street’s model is a huge savings for musicians, particularly bands that are in the early stages of gaining audiences and need recordings for college and independent radio, and for cds to sell at shows. Any money earned beyond rent will go toward improvement of the space and equipment purchases.
On Feb. 8, members of the music community created a promotional video for a Kickstarter campaign. The video features members of several bands associated with the Teenus Koytus collective discussing what the collective means to them. Chris Headland, who directed the video, said the aim was to generate publicity for Teenus Koytus and Puget St. Studios, and inspire viewers to donate on Kickstarter. “I want people to be able to see that there are actually musicians, and people who care about this project.”
Since the Bellingham Alternative Library found its new home last September, its volunteers have been working to establish it as a community space and a center for multimedia art. So the added presence of Puget St. Studios is no shocking move. Both organizations are dedicated to sharing the creativity of underdogs and up-and-comers, and promoting freedom of expression within the community. “Honest attempts at community building are always a risk worth taking,” Beckhorn said.