"Albany is the new Austin"

So says an Intel spokesman in an article today in Crain's New York about the growing local tech scene. "New York's tech sector is back ... Improbably, the epicenter is Albany, known more for bureaucracy than innovation." (Related question to the Austin thing: where are our breakfast tacos?)


Oh, come on, that's old news, Crains obviously doesn't read my old blog! http://albanyquality.blogspot.com/2008/06/albany-is-to-austin-as-cdta-is-to.html

If we're the new Austin -- where's our carsharing?

Obviously a very limited scope here. If all you're basing the comparison on is "tech" then ... maybe.

We'll be right to declare ourselves the new Austin only when we have as vibrant and *growing* an economy (not yet), as reasonable a cost of living (not yet), are growing in population because people not only can find many jobs (not yet), and when the city and it's surrounding communities are actually growing, not just greying, and the building are going up, not falling down (not yet, not yet, and not yet).


I do love this area, but lets face, Austin we might want to be, but Austin we aren't yet.

I've lived in Austin for several years and TRUST me, Albany is NOT Austin.

I just want a good breakfast burrito. Last good one I had was at Rogue Ales at the Portland airport. Might have to make one on my own.

This is absolutely wrong. Austin reaped the benefits of being an early adopter on a high growth industry. We are now bribing a mature (read: lower profits) industry to relocate to Albany.

This is exactly the type of bureacratic thinking that dooms the area. It worked for austin a decade and a half ago, it's not going to work here because its not a decade and a half ago.

Albany has virtually no venture capital base, virtually no entrepreneur class, and virtually no high growth potential businesses.

The economic development will be as far our bribes take us and not a dime further.

My only question is what was Austin like BEFORE their tech boom?

right on cue...i didn't even see this article before my comment


Keep Albany Boring :/

I grudgingly agree with James, except I think the cost of living in this area is VERY reasonable, compared with other Northeastern urban centers.

And in response to Ike: It seems really unfortunate for the global economy if 15 years is half of a life cycle for one industry. Manufacturing anything costs huge amounts of capital and if the industry is indeed in its maturity, why would anyone bother building another factory anywhere? Seems like a drag on so-called "innovation."

Dave, I'm not saying it won't be profitable..although global foundries actions do indicate that.

I'm saying that it won't change the area in any significant way because we're me-tooers, not originators.

That's why you're not going to see huge growth from this industry. 15 years is absolutely the difference between capturing those kind of "only guys in town", "we can charge what we want" heady days of high growth and the commoditization of an industry where there's a lot of competition, and margins are much lower.

You're not going to see the spin-off growth in the area for some other reasons. mostly because income and property taxes in upstate new york are completely out of whack with real incomes.

What's the value proposition for upstate new york versus texas or NC? NYS gave global foundries 1.4 Billion. What else?

Austin has the SXSW music and movie festival. Pretty much the best new music festival in the country.

It also has Austin City Limits and the related music festival.

Sadly, the Albany area has no music scene. Hell, little North Hampton kicks our ass. Austin is a whole different world.

I'm not sure if the people around here just won't go to concerts or if the venues and promoters are the problem but it is pretty grim from a music standpoint.

the music scene comes with giving 20-somethings a reason to stay in town, aka real economic opportunity

I'm not convinced North Hampton is some employment mecca for 20 somethings and yet there music scene is much better than albany.

@codemonkey: I go to at least 3 concerts a month in the Capital Region. Albany might not attract the kind of artists you enjoy, but that doesn't mean we don't have a music scene.

And my general response to all of this is that the kind of lazy "something is the new something" that's never really accurate and isn't ever needed.

Why does Albany have to be the new anything? From my non-Albany-native eyes, this little city has so many unique qualities and fun quirks that I don't think we need to compare ourselves to any other city.

I agree with Siobhan - this is a great town, all by itself. Also, when I was about 5 years old it was cool to bust on your town and say it was boring, etc. - but when I turned 6 years old, I decided that only un-cool people live in an un-cool town, so i better get to acting cool and quit dissing my town.

I think what made places like Portland and Austin they way they are now is that they weren't like anywhere else and didn't care. We already have that down pretty well.

Also, I speak for all Albany natives/NY natives/East Coast natives when I say no one wants to be anything in Texas.

"I go to at least 3 concerts a month in the Capital Region"

So which shows did you see last month and which will you go to next month? I curious where you go and what type of music you go to see. There certainly are venues that do a good job with certain types of music.

The majority of the time I see an artist listed in the Metroland and think, "wow i can't wait to see them" I read further and the show is in North Hampton.

OK, this is embarrassing (my musical tastes are WAY all over the map), but in the interest of backing up my claim, here goes:

Last month, I sawJackson Browne, Weird Al and Jon Anderson/Rick Wakeman at the Palace Theater. I'd really wanted to go to the Dream Theater show at the Palace and several of the shows at Proctor's, as well as the Indigo Girls at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and a few of the shows at the Egg, but I'm buying a house and am saving money right now.

This month is uncharacteristically quiet for me: tonight, I'm going to see Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek at the Egg, and later this month I'm seeing Alice Cooper at the Palace. If I can convince anyone I know to come with me, I'm also seeing the Moscow Ballet's performance of the 'Nutcracker' at the Palace.

Next month, I know I'm seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the TU Center and the Albany-Symphony Orchestra's Christmas show at the Palace. And not that it's a musical performance, but the annual "It's a Wonderful Life" showing at the Palace is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season (I really should just pay rent at the Palace; conversely, maybe they should pay ME for writing all of this about their shows).

I know people get frustrated because we don't get a lot of Top 40 or current indie/alternative acts here, but I've never had a hard time finding shows to attend. It all depends on your musical tastes. Country music fans probably think we have a lousy local music scene too.

The overarching point is that Albany has a lot going for it. If we keep comparing ourselves to other cities, or trying to mimic what we've seen work in other areas rather than continually featuring new and relevant attractions that are unique to us, we're never going to amount to more than a less-interesting copycat of other cities.

@Code Monkey: I think it's partly a geography thing. Northhampton is between Boston and New York City; it seems like it would be easy to do a show there on the way to a bigger gig.

@everyone: I can't speak to the "____ is the new ____" but I will point out that Northampton (one word) has a series of venues run by the Iron Horse Entertainment Group which has built up a good business over the years of getting a$$es in seats for the types of shows that folks seem to deem as impressive. (Looking back this year - Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Decemberists, Gillian Welch coming up etc etc etc - all IHEG events)

Subtract IHEG from the equation and Northampton / surrounding areas wouldn't seem as impressive.

As Siobahn intimates - it is what you make of it.

Ok. So Albany is a great place to see people who were writing great songs a few decades ago. George Thorogood had three tour buses parked in front of The Egg last month! And there is a banner ad near you for The Wall right now. But if you want to see people playing live music they wrote and recorded in the last year or two, Albany sucks (unless it is hardcore or metal).

And yes, the Iron Horse people are the reason that there is a real music scene in N. Hampton. But that is obvious. It is called the music business. You need people to run that business. Gillian Welch is playing/has played sold out shows in Ithaca, NYC, Boston and North Hampton. Ithaca and North Hampton but not Albany?

I don't think Albany's problem is a demand issue. It is a supply issue. No one is running the business side of things properly. Probably because anyone with business sense realizes the local politicians here do everything they can to stifle any business they can't control, but that is a separate issue.

Code Monkey, Valentine's and Red Square packs 'em in for shows that are neither hardcore nor metal (speaking of, how did I miss MC Frontalot is playing tonight?). I hear that dubstep is a big thing at the Fuze Box (kids these days). There are dedicated groups of local musicians working their fingers raw to consistently offer good shows; the Restoration Festival managed to get a couple hundred people into an old church during a hurricane. Add smaller events that usually go under the radar, like the "Attic" show AOA recently mentioned (it was really good). Local open mics will only cost you a cup of coffee. And there is the Palace, the Egg, the Linda, the Armory. I'm sure I'm forgetting some (it's not personal).

And that's only in Albany proper.

I think your criticism of management is valid. There's usually a better way to do things. But there's a perception that Albany just "doesn't have music I like" and no amount of good management will change that; people still have to get out the door and drop $5-10. There are a lot of people who want to show you live music they wrote and recorded in the last year or two, you have to want to listen though.

"There are dedicated groups of local musicians"

I'm a fan of local music. Been to plenty of open mics. Seen more of the local heroes than probably is healthy. However I did notice that the very talented We Are Jeneric recently had a video posted on this here site and no one commented. I had previously commented on them so restrained as I don't want to get a reputation as a FanMonkey. I've been to both Rest Fests if you want to check my street cred.

But i'm not talking about local musicians. I'm talking about booking touring acts. That weren't once in Fleetwood Mac or the Doors. Or Yes. Or Weird Al. Or Primus. It isn't being done. There is no excuse for Gillian Welch not playing a sold out show at the Troy Music Hall or the Egg other than piss poor management. Hey look, The New Pornographers are playing Woodstock!! No Albany show. Decemberists in North Hampton. No Albany Show. Sufjan Stevens in Boston. No Albany Show.I could go on and on and on with examples of interesting CURRENT artists who don't play Albany. yeah, i know, U2 played the FuzeBox once when it had a more regal name. Would they play here today at the same point in their career? Highly unlikely.

If case you don't think I ever get off the couch. I really enjoyed the Modest Mouse and Wilco shows I saw. In North Hampton. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings were stunning. In Ithaca. People playing live shows at the pinnacle of their careers. Cake and Ween at the Palace. Very nice. But not quite the same. Sheep go to heaven, goats go to Albany.

Point taken. I would like to not have to go to Skidmore or Northern Lights to see bigger names, either.

Not that any of it would make Albany the new Austin, if we even want it to be. In the meantime, hope I bump into you at something local.

Mmmm.... Breakfast tacos!!!

For those dissing TX, the San Antonio/ Austin area is not like the rest of the state. Don't believe me? Hop on a Southwest flight and go find out!

Okay, for starters I agree with Siobhan and Harold completely! Albany has so much potential and allready lots going for it. To heck with being the new "Austin" or new "Silocone Valley" or anything else for that matter. I think it's positive to be compared to places that are doing well but let's not depend on it for our sense of local pride. Albany is Albany, Albany is a place to be proud of, Albany is what we make of it; simple as that!

Now, CodeMonkey - I absolutely understand your frustrations, I too want to see alot of those acts out in North Hampton. I really, really applaud Siobhan for getting out there and taking advantage of what's going on here locally but my tastes are probably more similar to yours. So, since we seem to have too few "ground-breaking", "innovative" or just plain "hip" groups coming to town, what are we going to do about it? Do we just wait for Step-Up Presents to book Deerhunter at Valentines? Do we wait for The Fuze Box to have James Blake spin a set? I think people such as us need to get together to try and figure out how to do that for ourselves. If you read "Our Band Could be Your Life" that's what the HardCore/Indie kids did in the 80's. They booked their own shows.

As for the Nanotech Industry, shame on you nay-sayers! Are we not getting more jobs to come to the area? I fail to see how this is not a positive and exciting thing. Albany's best days may still be ahead of us, stop falling into the "Smallbany" mindset by poo-pooing everthing guys!

One thing is for sure, looking through a few of these comments...if the only thing you think you've got going for you is that you aren't like a place you know nothing about...you've no cohesive argument. ;-)

As to my comment about the cost of living, I agree it's cheaper than much of the NE, but it's higher than Austin by 3-5%, and groceries are a whopping 20% higher on average in Albany than Austin.

And just this week I paid $2.99/gal for gas, compared to the $3.45 here today. Groceries and gas add up.

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