Techno and the Birth of Detroit’s Second Renaissance

Photo - Movement Electronic Music Festival (Official) and Camera Jesus - Facebook.
Photo – Movement Electronic Music Festival (OFFICIAL) and Camera Jesus – Facebook.

After reading a recent article from Forbes detailing the monetization of techno in Detroit, Michigan – we started contemplating the impact that the style of music has had on the city over the decades.

Detroit has long been lauded in history books as the birthplace of Motown and the assembly line. The Motor City, Motown, Detroit Rock City – all of these names have graced the city in years past. Outside of Motown, automobiles, and rock n’ roll, Detroit has another musical contribution that’s made it to the world stage: techno.

For many of us, Detroit will forever be known as the Techno City.

First emerging in the city in the mid to late 1980’s, Detroit techno exploded out from the metropolis and onto the world scene to countries and continents around the world.

Growing out of the city’s rough post-industrial warehouses and gritty club spaces, techno is a sound birthed purely from Detroit. It’s only fitting, then, that techno is the sound sound is bringing the world back to Detroit for what many see as Detroit’s impending second renaissance.

Techno’s impact on Detroit has never more apparent than with the world-renowned Movement Electronic Music Festival, held annually in the city’s Hart Plaza since 2000 (although technically 2006 under the Movement name).

Detroit's beloved techno stalwart, Carl Craig. Photo - Carl Craig - Facebook.
Detroit’s beloved techno legend, Carl Craig. Photo – Carl Craig – Facebook.

Bringing roughly 100,000 attendees to the city for multiple days and nights of electronic music revelry – Movement is doing its part to revitalize the once-great metropolis.

With 3-day general admission tickets running around the $150 mark, the economic impact to the city is massive, and that’s only tickets.

Once hotels, restaurants, clubs, bar tabs, taxis, and other costs are factored – the economic impact of Movement is undeniable.

To put that into perspective, the city’s Motown Museum draws roughly 45,000-50,000 visitors a year and draws revenues of under $1 million per year.When compared to Movement’s impact on the city in mere days, Motown is just a drop in the musical pond of Detroit’s current cultural heritage.

We’re not discounting Motown, however; from Smokey Robinson to the Four Tops and beyond, the genre is as essential to the city as it has ever been – but tastes are changing. And, for now, it looks like the city’s new musical legacy is one of 4-on-the-floor beats and funky bass lines.

The Techno City has arrived.

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