One of the issues I see in the music industry that is incredibly aggravating and which makes everyone suffer is the general unwillingness and inability to feed into a community. That is to say, there can be a hundred bands of a certain genre in a given city, but pretty much none of them will seem to be actively trying to make ties with any others. This is more prevalent in certain genres, and it’s also a lot more of a problem in older scenes where people tend to view music as more of a hobby, but this only serves to make people suffer playing countless shows to literally no one. What makes this even funnier to me is the simple fact that most of the bands who aren’t engaging with their communities are actively aware that they need to be, they just don’t have a jumping off point. Some of them try and join Facebook groups and the like, but they only come to find that no one really participates in them because everybody is using them to try and promote their own bands and not using them the way Facebook intended, to build relationships.
The problem of course is that even when you try to create community it’s hard to get anywhere with it. That is to say, your band joins a Facebook group relevant to your genre and your city and you start to comment on some of the links people post to promote their groups. Odds are, if it’s a group that already has minimal community involvement then you commenting isn’t going to actually stir up anything. No one expects you to be commenting, and in most cases they aren’t quite aware how to respond to this behavior, even though it is the selfsame behavior they are trying to elicit. Even if they do reply, a few dudes can’t revolutionize how a Facebook group is run. At best they can create a page that is fun and active, but if they are suffering from a lack of community odds are this isn’t going to help. So much of music promotion seems to so obviously be screaming at a wall but of course, when you’re hustling and doing your best, that wall can seem like a horde of eager fans.
Tied into this is the nightmare clusterfuck that is non genre specific promoters. As someone who came up in the metal and hardcore scenes I always kind of assumed that there were similar things for other genres of music. However, as I’ve seen it, in a lot of these cases promoters at non-extreme clubs have no problem throwing a rock band, a folk band and a rap artist on the same bill. To some extent I get it because after all promoters are constantly being bombarded with emails and they want to be able to make everyone happy. Mixed genre shows that don’t actually do anything for anyone are an easy way to accommodate, but again, they don’t get you anywhere. When it comes right down to it, for these genres where promoters tend to be wanting and where they don’t really have any desire to get deep into their understanding of the local scene you need to simply step up and be your own promoter, book your own shows and go from there.
That’s because when you want to start building a community you still really need to do it one person at a time. It’s easy to find a band in your genre from your town on Reverbnation or whatever and to hit them up saying you’d like to play shows together. Odds are they will say “Yeah totally bro!” and then not do anything about it. That’s how independent music works a lot of the time. It fucking sucks. However, if you say ‘fuck it’ book a night on your own and then try and hit up a bunch of bands they are going to be a lot more stoked on what you have to offer. Even if no one shows up to the concert, odds are they will be happy just that they got to play with people who sound like them and that you get to build a relationship that is not only valuable but also fun. It’s fun to play music for people who like what you do, and those friendships are going to build into something a hell of a lot bigger. Where you’re at now is unfortunate, so you need to sit up and separate yourself from the morass of lies and shitty shows and move towards something greater.
No one wants to have to build their own scene, but look at it this way. If you’re a folk fan, would you want to go out to see one folk band, or try and go see four? If you’re a folk band, would you want to play with groups who would appeal to that random folk fan, or do you want to try and win over rap artists? Like – think about this critically. Again – I know that the all genre shows are easy to get on and the promoter is making a quick buck off of those, but you’re not reaching out to your demographic, you’re just looking like an idiot and wasting your time. Even if you ave no fans taking the initiative will win you the respect of the bands in the scene who are doing something substantive and getting that love is worth it if nothing else. These aren’t hard facts to wrap your head around, but facts you need to build yourself upon.
So go out and build your scene if you can’t find one. Odds are there are people in your region who sound like you who are facing the same problems that you are and if you don’t take the time to grow together then you are all suffering. So many bands out there just want to find friends to play with, and you are going to need to be the locus for that if you’re going to expand what you’re doing. If you aren’t out and about making shit happen and no one else seems to care about the bands in your area then you have no right to complain. It’s great when scenes are already there, but unfortunately sometimes it’s up to you to build things up.