'VICE' Rids Indie Scene


By Martel Reid-Warden

285 Kent, a bygone Williamsburg venue. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

Popular venues responsible for enhancing the promising indie music scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn have recently experienced a number of closures. Speculation continues to mount that the expected expansion of youth digital media brand VICE is the cause.

VICE currently occupies a 60,000 square foot building on the corner of South 2nd and Kent. In a bid for expansion, they recently signed an eight-year lease for 75,000 square feet of space in the surrounding area. A recent influx of investments into VICE provided the media brand with the funds to build larger offices on the land currently occupied by Williamsburg’s indie venues.

VICE is currently estimated to have a value of $2 billion. The company just received two $250 million investments; one from Silicon Valley firm Technology Crossover Ventures, and another from US cable broadcaster A+E Networks.

In the wake of these immense capital investments, local venues such as 285 Kent and Death By Audio announced their imminent closure. Glasslands, another live music venue, made the recent announcement that their final show will be held on New Year’s Eve–another case in this unwavering trend.

VICE also received a $70 million payment in exchange for a 5 percent stake from Rupert Murdoch’s media group 21st Century Fox last year. With the backing of such influential media figures, VICE will encounter minimal barriers in its efforts for expansion.

The media brand’s decision to remain tight-lipped leaves indie fans with little doubt that recent investments, along with VICE’s desire for global expansion and their current office’s close proximity to the bygone venues, to be the reason for the recent wave of closures. Unfortunately, the expansion will come at the expense of venues that are synonymous with Williamsburg’s burgeoning indie scene.