It’s 2016, and despite the mud that cowardly keyboard warriors and hardcore haters sling on the Internet, the scene is not fucking dead.
As long as there’s someone writing this and someone reading it, the music scene has a pulse. Just because you are in a small town doesn’t mean you can’t breed creativity from backroom jam spaces, and just because you’re in a major metropolis doesn’t mean all the good noise gets washed out.
This isn’t your high school pep rally’s call-to-action so our team can make the playoffs. This is a personal and direct message from me to you: music needs you. Your city needs you. The genre you dig and the band you love needs you. So wake the fuck up!
Here is how you can help:
Go to shows
DUH. There is no local music scene without live music happening. Whether it’s a dive bar or the drummer’s parents are away for the weekend—show up. Support live music and witness the magic. It is incredible watching people from your community lighting up onstage like rockstars.
Now, we all love getting guestlisted, but fork out the cash for a ticket whenever you can because the money is going directly back into funding the music you love. That being said, truly the most important thing is to—excuse me while I repeat myself—SHOW UP! Even if you’re playing in the opening band or just walking by and got caught by your ear holes, bodies in the room are worth just as much as U.S. dollars to any touring band (and slightly more than Canadian money).
Buy tickets in advance
I have been locked out in the cold (literally) when some of my favorite out-of-town bands come around to small local venues because I did not think ahead. When will I ever learn? Heed my wisdom, learn from my disappointments and act as soon as possible or forever hold your peace.
In some scenarios, if the show sells out quickly the promoter can even find a bigger venue or add another date, helping the beginning artist gain more of a rep and hopefully get booked into that space first next time. At the very least, tickets sold in advance give the artist a sense of the show they will be putting on and an impression of your local scene.
Purchase music every now and then
I’m not saying all the time, but whenever you have a few bucks to spare on a great album, pick it up! Download it through Bandcamp rather than iTunes if you can. I try to buy albums I like when I know the sale will personally impact the artist and not just be a percentile increase on their label’s quarterly earnings report.
The rebirth of vinyl is the music industry’s response to pirating music. Because the CD ended up betraying itself, as anyone with a computer can copy and reproduce the contents, both music consumers and record pressers fell back on the time-tested supportive folds of wax. LPs become so much more real when you can hold the long, rigid, 12-inch artwork in your hands and hear the needle quickly plow through that warm lint-crackling sound. I’m giving myself chills.
As with downloading, I like to buy first presses and shrink wrapped copies from the bands that stand behind their merch tables after sets.
While any classic vinyl re-press or mainstream release will easily cost you 40 dollars or more, you can usually even get physical copies from your town’s locals for a pretty fair price.
Share event pages on the Internet
Word of mouth and community are the two most important factors of any local music scene. You’re not going to make it out to every show, and that’s okay. You can still share the event page or tell your friends to go and Snapchat or Periscope in your stead! Awareness for the bands that are playing and the venues that are hosting them is key to a successful and supportive industry. Keep up the discussion; a conversation is worth a thousand words.
Set a good example
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more fun in this world than sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, but only once you are the legal age of majority for your area… or away from prying eyes. “Fucking around” is the quickest and surest way to put an end to a venue or a promoter, I’ve seen it happen in more cities than a week-long tour would hit. Also, know the atmosphere. You shouldn’t be hate moshing at a pop-punk or melodic hardcore show. Understand that people in those spaces aren’t as aware of the rules and expectations around throwing down. Everyone who goes to see live music should feel safe and included—listen to your moms on this one.
In conclusion, get your heads out of your asses and start paying attention. There are a lot of aurally pleasing sound waves crashing around world and they are very easy to hear when your ears aren’t full of shit. Go to shows in your city; go to shows in other cities if you can, watch how they do things.
Pick up an instrument, learn how to play; pick up your phone, spread the word; pick up a record and spin it; pick up your best friends and support local music, you fuck!
[Photo credit: Grizzlee Martin]