The alchemy of art scenes is similar. It's a complex process under any circumstances, but when the elements involved are as fickle and hype-mad as pop bands, you might as well get your rosary. No matter how well you build it -- with effective city planning, an arts-friendly government, proper density, eager audiences, profitable venues -- there's no guarantee you'll strike hipster (or hip-hop, or metalhead) gold. Despite all the work seemingly being done by the Verner administration, Greater Spokane Incorporated and RAWK to foster an all-ages scene specifically and a more robust scene in general, there's still that massive, make-or-break question mark: the marketing. No matter how good the scene you have is, if no one knows about it, who's going to flock?
Unfortunately for the city, you can't sell a musician on Spokane the way they sold the U.S. Figure Skating Association. (If you could, Browne's would be a little Williamsburg.) It's gotta be a soft but bankable sell. It has to be viral, but with a concrete hook.
You gotta have good bands, yeah, but you also gotta have a proper record label. It's a hell of an X factor in building scene credibility. Labels speak to a wider range of people than single bands do. They actively market. They don't break up just to pursue dithering side projects. In the mid-'90s, a ton of people flocked to Seattle because of Nirvana's fame, sure -- but tons more came because the success of the band's label, Sub Pop, suggested that fame was duplicable.
Scene building is a complicated equation no matter what, but not having a well-respected, boutique label proudly producing music here makes the math considerably harder.