Indie Music Industry Heading to the Hudson Valley

When you think of the Hudson Valley, what main industries first come to mind? Music might not be one of them, but what may come as a surprise to some is that the Hudson Valley is slowly becoming a hub for musicians, indie record labels, and popular music venues and spaces. With the Hudson Valley’s natural beauty, proximity to New York City, affordability, and bustling art scenes, many within the industry are making the move from the Big Apple to the Hudson Valley.

The advantages that have drawn other businesses to relocate from New York City to the Hudson Valley have also influenced musicians and record labels, eager for more space, lower cost of living, and beautiful countryside. For Adam Pierce, founder of Fat Cat Records, a popular indie label which relocated offices from Brooklyn to 234 Warren Street, Hudson, in 2014, the Hudson Valley was the perfect location to escape the “relentless chaos” of the city, says Pierce.

Rent price was a factor for us“, but we wanted to leave the city regardless. “I had already done so, had begun telecommunicating, when my staffer Andy said that he and his wife wanted to leave the city as well. So I suggested we move our office to the Hudson Valley.” Pierce told us.

Fat Cat Records also has a record store in the same location as their office, which allows the company to engage with locals and customers on a more personal level with Warren Street’s steady foot traffic. The shop is definitely one of the best record stores in the Hudson area and attracts locals and visitors alike.

Fat Cat isn’t the only music industry influence that’s opted for the Hudson Valley over New York City in recent years. One of Hudson’s greatest attractions is the massive Basilica Hudson which hosts a variety of festivals and events, including the annual Farm & Flea Market, and perhaps most notably Basilica Soundscape — a weekend-long festival that includes live concerts, author readings, visual arts, and conceptual sound performances. Co-curated by Basilica co-founder and director Melissa Auf der Mar (previously guitarist in the band Hole), Brandon Stosuy (The Creative Independent) and Basilica co-founder Tony Stone, the festival is a diverse mix of arts, music and literature that draws crowds from all over. Notable previous talents hosted at the festival include Richard Hell, Angel Olsen, Tim Hecker, and Perfume Genius. Many of the artists that play the festival are signed to indie labels that are based in New York City, and lots of New Yorkers make the trek upstate to attend this bustling weekend of the arts. Basilica Soundscape 2017 was a huge success, drawing popular acts from across many different genres such as John Maus, Zola Jesus, Blanck Mass, and Protomartyr, among many others. The festival, as Auf der Mar puts it, is “an immersive pilgrimage to the Hudson Valley, where rural, industrial, and urban collide”. And that’s certainly what it is!

While Basilica Soundscape draws large crowds for weekend-long immersive musical experiences, there are still great local venues for nightly, more intimate concerts. Hudson has the Half Moon and Club Helsinki, which are both fun options for a local night out with friends and family, but venues like BSP Lounge in Kingston, only a short drive from Hudson, is the place to be for bigger acts, raging DJ sets, and general partying. First opened in 2004, the venue recently teamed up with talent and promotion company Output Agency LTD to transform the beautiful turn-of-the-century building into an integrated, cohesive art space. In addition to frequent concerts, they also host dance lessons in their large studio space along with gallery openings, parties, and private events. Lots of city folks make the commute up to BSP Kingston to catch the sets of popular acts such as DIIV, Kurt Vile, Parquet Courts, and Yeasayer, among many others. The front room of the venue is perfect for catching intimate, smaller shows, while the back room holds larger events and concerts, and is a New York State certified Soundstage. BSP is widely considered the premier rock club in the Hudson Valley, and is definitely worth a visit for every music-savvy Upstate New Yorker.

The Hudson Valley already draws fans of the arts with spaces such as Art OmiTime & Space Limited, and countless art galleries, but the recent move of indie music industry influencers moving to the Hudson Valley to plant their roots has brought a new type of life to the area that wasn’t seen before. For New Yorkers who want to part ways with the city but don’t want to lose the access to good live music, industry work opportunities, and fun venues to jam out with their friends at, the Hudson Valley is looking like the new place to be.

Racquel Roberts