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Seattle's new Upstream festival modeled after SXSW

A conceptual rending of what the Upstream Music Fest will look like.
Courtesy of Upstream Music Fest
A conceptual rending of what the Upstream Music Fest will look like.

A new kind of music festival will come to Seattle’s Pioneer Square this week.  

It's called Upstream.

Think of it as a Seattle version of Austin, Texas' South by Southwest: half music festival, half conference. It will happen at venues across Seattle’s Pioneer Square Thursday through Saturday. 

Jeff Vetting is Upstream's executive director.

"We are probably closer to South by Southwest 25 years ago than South by Southwest of today. They started with that mission of bringing artists to central Texas to see the great bands that Austin has, and that's very similar to the mission that we have," Vetting said.

The conference will bring together the music and tech community to discuss things like how streaming has affected musicians' profits and how data can influence creativity.

There's also a keynote from Seattle rapper Macklemore about how to reach a global audience while staying local.

On the festival side, there will be performances by more than 300 artists, most of them from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

Vetting said Upstream’s mission is to promote emerging artists.

"It's heartbreaking for us when we started this project to see artists that have to move out of the Pacific Northwest to find success to go to Nashville or Los Angeles or New York," Vetting said.

But Upstream is facing some pushback for its mission. The festival is the brainchild of Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist and music lover Paul Allen.

There's now a petition on, calling for Allen to do more for Seattle artists that are being displaced.

Either way, the music festival will showcase musicians from all kinds of genres. Below are samples of some these artists.

Dave B

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Beat Connection
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