Become a rock star for free: Music District signals beginning of an improved music community in Fort Collins

Randi Mattox

The outside of the Music District’s campus located on College Avenue between Laurel and Mulberry streets. (Randi Mattox | Collegian)

Becoming a rock star for free sounds impossible; if you’re in Fort Collins, it’s not. 

Over the weekend, music-lovers from all around the nation gathered just north of Colorado State University’s campus to celebrate the opening of the highly anticipated Music District. Funded by The Bohemian Foundation, the Music District will make becoming a musician accessible to anyone willing to walk into their office and sign up.


Music District Business Manager, Gregg Adams, said The Bohemian Foundation had a vision for years about creating a facility that would foster the success of local musicians and put Fort Collins on the map as a competitive music city.

“We have professionals throughout Fort Collins that do recording, and band management, and venues, and sound technique and all that kind of stuff,” Adams said. “We said, ‘How do we connect all of these people together?’ and The Bohemian Foundation decided that we should have a music ecosystem hub and call it the Music District.”

Saja Butler, Music District utility player, said The Bohemian Foundation is funding the Music District to promote their vision of a more inclusive music community.

“They (The Bohemian Foundation) are basically funding us and an extension of what their dream is of bringing music of all types together,” Butler said. “The Bohemian Foundation is music, music, music, pro music all the time, which is very rare for many foundations.”

In addition to funding, Jesse Elliott, director of the Music District, said The Bohemian Foundation will be involved in providing

Musicians perform a song in one of the Music District’s studios. (Randi Mattox | Collegian)

opportunities for artists.

“It’s a project of The Bohemian Foundation, so it will also continue and connect with all the great work those folks have done with music education, grant-making, artist development and their venue, festival and concert series,” Elliott said.

Adams said the Music District’s goal is to bring all aspects of music together, regardless of genre or dimension.

“In the space of music, you have some engineers, you have musicians, you have bands, you have ticketing agents, you have videographers,” Adams said. “You have all of these different things. This is a place where all of those things can connect.”

In addition to creating this connective tissue between musicians and non-musicians who work in the industry, Adams said the Music District strives to increase the footprint of music throughout the world, starting in Fort Collins.


“We are bringing everyone together and saying, ‘We have anything that you want relative to your growth, your education, your business,’” Adams said. “And (we are) providing that one stop shop for the entire thing.”

Elliot said there are three levels to the Music District: craft, business and community.

“If you think about craft, the first one, it’s about creativity and what the artists do to really make music the root of it all,” Elliott said. “Business is how you get the thing that you’ve made out into the world. Community is how do you connect around that thing in a way that is not necessarily music business related but more about the social, or the civic or the public good.”

The Music District is located on College Avenue between Laurel Street and Mulberry Street. The campus consists of five building built in the early 1900s that were renovated into the Music District’s campus. Each building provides a different service to users ranging from workspaces and studios to a music retail store and hangout spots.

A turntable station overlooks the downstairs area of one of the Music District’s buildings. (Randi Mattox | Collegian)

Butler said the amount of available resources provides a space for musicians of any type or level of experience.

“It brings musicians together, from the beginning guitarist to the touring musician,” Butler said. “We want to bring classical training to the noise community. We just want to bring all of them together.”

Adams said there are no limitations for users when considering the vast amount of services provided through the Music District.

“We have not figured it all out yet, but I think the core value that we have is we want to be that connecting point for all things music in the community and try to figure out a way to extend and make them successful at whatever they’re doing,” Adams said.

Local jazz and funk musician, Hayden Farr, said he plans to utilize the Music District for making connections in the industry.

“I will be networking with a lot of people, a lot of musicians and a lot of the music businesses,” Farr said. “I’m looking forward to people coming into the building. I think it will be a great place for musicians to come. They are offering so many different things.”

S.J. Meyer, a Fort Collins community member, said she has lived here for five years and is looking forward to seeing how the Music District will impact the city.

“I think it just kind of adds to the greatness of Fort Collins,” Meyer said. “I think it is just fabulous that Fort Collins has another element to offer more people and to grow as a community. I think it is a great community piece. I am excited to see where it goes.”

Fort Collins community member and guitarist, Kevin Warner, said that he is impressed with what it offers aspiring musicians.

Musicians try out guitars in the Music Districts retail room. (Randi Mattox | Collegian)

“It’s fantastic for people who are really into music and need a space to grow as musicians,” Warner said. “This is an amazing resource.”

Elliot said he hopes people will recognize all that the Music District has to offer and take advantage of it.

“We are hoping that a bunch of great bands will come here and work hard on making their craft even better,” Elliot said. “Anybody who loves music is welcome to come here and dive into it more than they already have.”

Adams said that joining the Music District is a very simple process that anyone can do.

“You need to come in,” Adams said. “We have iPads at the front desk. You need to provide your email and a very simple password, and that’s all it takes. We will start to send you all of our correspondents.”

Although the Music District is open and ready for people to use, Elliot said this is only the beginning of their journey.

“We’ve only done like two percent of the work,” Elliot said. “Now, we have the other 98 percent to do. We are really happy and celebratory, but I think we feel like this is really just the beginning.”

Arts and culture editor, Randi Mattox, can be reached at 

Editor’s note: This article was updated March 6, 2018 for grammar and AP style.