I’m honestly surprised that THIS bill hasn’t gotten more mainstream music media attention, it certainly deserves it. For those who don’t want to click and read it, it’s a bill proposed within the city of Philadelphia that will not only raise the price for a venue license, but also create a registry requiring performers and DJ’s (Among others) to submit their addresses and contact information so that they can be reached in case there is an incident at one of their performances. Oh, and the police need to be told about every show that has more than fifty people. In other words – the city of Philadelphia is going to damn independent music if this bill passes and it will go from being one of the nations premier cities for live music to one that… simply doesn’t have it.
This speaks to a larger trend in live music- desires for regulation make the whole thing suffer. The point being – part of what I feel that not enough normal people understand about live music, especially on an independent level is that it is by nature chaotic. You’re playing tiny clubs and probably don’t have a backstage. Dozens if not hundreds of strangers crammed into new spaces every night – it’s just how it goes. What does this mean? Simply that you are going to be in the action non stop. Now, there is no escape, you are going to be sacrificed on an altar of government. This is not a question of anarchism or conservatism but rather the very human nature of live music.
The reason that it’s hard to make people who aren’t actively involved in the scene aware of what independent music is and how it functions in the world is because the experience is so alien and bizarre when you look at it objectively. You have these groups who maybe a few million people at best care about, but who in that little world are icons and have accumulated praise across the globe. They got ‘famous’ by doing something no one actually values anymore and play tiny rooms to a handful of dedicated patrons every night. This isn’t really something that you can regular because it exists outside of the traditional human experience. While yes, some of these proposals in the bill might make sense for larger shows I don’t think they realize how huge underground music is – is a tiny band from Portland on their first US tour supposed to know about this when their buddy Pretty Boy hooks them up with a show at Kung Fu Necktie? Though it is a local bill, it has widespread ramifications.
So essentially, if this bill passes the DIY community is going to have to expand. Illegal shows will become the norm, which in all honesty is already pretty common in Philadelphia. The strict limitations Pennsylvania already has on live music make it quasi-miraculous that the city has had such a good scene, but in my experience attending college there a lot of it was DIY focused already. This will only further the scenes DIY ethos. Of course – this bill was not meant to help the DIY world, and could have some potentially scary ramifications for independent shows if it were to pass.
I think that the outcry against this bill is important because it shows us that not only do people care, but also how hard it is to really restrain live music. If you don’t have experience in the field it might seem like an easy thing to do, but considering that in a lot of genres people are reticent to even reveal their real names (Matt Bacon isn’t mine) I hardly imagine that addresses would be readily given out. I mean, asides from the governmental oversight and intrusion that would imply we all know that that would leak and lead to thousands of fans hanging out outside of Mike Patton’s house in the hopes of a selfie or two. Not only is it an invasion of privacy – it is simply unfeasible in a modern state.
I’m obviously not a policy expert, and I barely consider myself a music one. What I do know though is that regulation has never done well with independent music and it’s up to people like me and you to sign THIS petition in order to help make sure that the work we love doesn’t gets shut out by people who I was never really meant for in the first place. There is minimal crossover between government officials and musicians and one shouldn’t try to dictate what the other does. I apologize that this as been quite different than the usual posts here but – as I think you are aware, this is a really important petition, not just for Philadelphia but music has a whole. Seriously though – SIGN IT.