Over the seven years that it has been operating on the corner of Leon and Bertram Ave. in downtown Kelowna, the live music venue The Streaming Cafe has become known as a place that puts music and artists first.
Over 500 shows have been held, bringing new and emerging acts to Kelowna and streaming those shows live to the Internet, beginning to do so at a time when Internet streaming was not the commonplace it is now.
When the music started at Streaming, the 60 or so patrons in the seats hushed down and let the artist take over.
Now Streaming Cafe has announced it will close its store-front venue, which also operated as a coffee shop, and will turn its attention to what will be called Streaming Cafe Presents: In essence becoming a musical promoter that will book acts into larger venues than the cafe was able to provide.
“Sometimes to move on, you have to leave some things behind,” said Streaming Cafe musical director Michael Donley. “That’s the approach we are taking to expand on our vision. We have made the tough decision to close the coffee shop on Leon Ave. and move our Streaming Café shows to larger venues to provide more opportunity for artists and our audience.”
When Streaming Cafe opened its doors in 2009, streaming to the Internet was a relatively new technology and the Kelowna music scene had yet to explode. Now streaming is common while the local music scene has erupted with musical venues downtown such as Fernando’s, Doc Willoughby’s, the Habitat and the Minstrel Cafe among others blasting out live music downtown.
“Streaming Cafe was at the forefront of the technology in the music industry before people even knew you were going to need that kind of (streaming) technology in the industry,” said Ryan Donn, a key member of the Kelowna music scene and a Kelowna city councillor. “Seven years ago it was so far beyond what people thought was possible: That you could watch a concert live on your computer. Also the amount of live music downtown has almost quadrupled in that time. What it has created is a vibrant downtown. It’s a variety of people pushing the same idea which is to give all these musicians a place to play.”
While the Kelowna music scene grew and the technology to stream shows became easier to use, Streaming Cafe also found it was outgrowing its 60-seat venue, turning away music fans at virtually all of its shows.
“Since we started the music scene has grown incredibly,” said Donley, a former touring musician who turned his sites to promotions when he took the job with Streaming Cafe. “It has been a growing community and it’s really starting to thrive. As far as venues, we want to take it quite a lot bigger and try to do what we are doing in places like a theatre.”
Donley pointed to a venue like the Kelowna Community Theatre that would give artists that the Streaming Cafe has relationships with a larger venue to play out of. Another possible venue could be a new, 100 seat theatre that is being built in Kelowna’s Innovation Centre.
Wherever its shows are held, Donley says it will be still be the same trusted brand they have built up over the past seven years.
“I feel with Streaming Cafe, we have created a trustworthy brand as far as our audience that comes week after week; they have trusted us with bringing in quality acts,” he said. “‘We want to expand on that brand and as much as we’ve invested in artists, we want to grow with them and be able to go to larger venues and continue that relationship with them.”
There are still eight weeks of concerts set at the old Streaming Cafe, which will wrap up with its final show on June 25. Streaming Cafe Presents will kick off with its first shows this fall with Donley keeping the details close to his vest until the shows can be announced, likely this summer. In the end he says fans of the Streaming Cafe will still get what they have come to know and love about the intimate venue.
“We are working through exactly what we are going to do but we want to continue on the same path as far as showcasing emerging artists but just doing it in a different space,” he said.
For news on its future and the final run of shows, check out streamingcafe.net