What's Wrong With Local Music

You can try and come up with many reasons for what’s wrong with the music your friends are playing in the garage, but to be honest, it’s not the music at all. Music in and of itself is something so pure, that anyone with a little heart, can create the next masterpiece. The real problem with local music is the bands themselves. Not the music that they are playing.

Now you can say that I am taking potshots at musicians who are pouring their heart into a song, but I’m not. I’m calling out the fact that they do nothing to better their station in the scene. Everyone is in competition and no one is helping out one another. To be honest, what we have here, in Racine, WI, shouldn’t even be called a scene. This is just a battle royale of bands, winner take all.

Let’s take a moment and look at real scenes. Let’s look at Seattle for instance. Now I am not saying that the bands that came out of there were better than the ones here in Racine, or Milwaukee for that matter, but they stuck together. If one band made it, everyone else did too. When Nirvana made it big, you suddenly heard about The Melvins. Why? Chances are Kurt Cobain may have said something to someone with enough clout to do something about them.

Another fantastic example of this is 1977 in the Bowery in New York City. CBGB’s. It was like a revolution. Bands like The Ramones, Blondie, The Talking Heads and many others, while they didn’t sound alike, they all had common goals in getting their music heard to as many people as possible. I’m sure there were times when you would see the three afore mentioned bands on the same bill.

Everyone here is so caught up in trying to get bands that “sound alike” on the bill together so they can get one generalized audience. Why? Why pigeonhole things? You have a band that is playing the big club that sounds like Government Mule? Great! Now you have a band that sounds like early 90’s alternative? Fantastic! It’s called cross-pollination. Both bands respectfully bring their fans in, and expose them to something new. God forbid the fans help out. You never know, you might just win over a few people.

This brings me to the fans. You paid good money to see a show. Settle in for the night. Don’t make the promoter force a band that isn’t ready to headline a gig play last because you won’t stick around. This happened recently and while I won’t name names, it really got under my skin. You are as much a part of the scene as the musicians and the promoters. Take an interest in other bands than just your friend’s band.

Bands, don’t forget that you can play to a packed house all you want, but if it’s just your friends every single time, it’s not doing you any good. You need to get out there and win over new people. Take any show that you can get, and rock out to 10 people like you are headlining Madison Square Garden.

This isn’t directed at any one particular band, or person. It’s just an overview of my thoughts on how things can be improved. Racine is a great town, despite how much we bitch and complain about it. I’d like to see it up in the marquee somewhere when it’s not being associated with that damn Madonna movie.


2 Responses to “What's Wrong With Local Music”

Shawn Michael, Cool guy from Maui said...
August 17, 2009 at 1:21 AM

The writer makes some valid points, here is my two-cents.

Being a long time warrior in local bands I've learned a few things along the way. For instance, I've stopped thinking about music as being local a long time ago. You're competition, for lack of a better word, is all those makers of music around the world that have come before you.

Another thing on my mind is staying realistic. By that I mean, listen your band and watch it perform on video with a realistic perspective. Then watch some of the 'greats' on a live concert DVD. That is your competition,... not the headlining band in your small town. When you begin to think to yourself, "Hey, if we had the resources we could rock a stadium as well as U2." You are on your way.

One more thing for those chasing the dream. Stop searching for that 'pie in the sky' record deal. These days, that is the last thing you want. Stay indie, utilize the tools given to you to promote, record, publish, distribute etc. All those things can be done from your bedroom nowadays while in your boxers eating cold pizza.

So next time you are out playing and there are only ten people there, perform to the best of your abilities, hone your craft and gain a least a couple new fans. (Sometimes you can get new fans without them even listening to you. Try talking to people, you know, the old-school social networking)

We've all heard the classic, "Baby Steps" method of accomplishment. Apply it to your goals in music. Make it a goal to gain just a few new fans a week, after a year you will have hundreds of real fans that are not your 'friends'. Apply this also to songwriting and musicianship. In short, get something out of it each time you perform, don't look back, always take a step forward and you will get somewhere.

August 17, 2009 at 3:13 AM

very well written, and I love the input, but don't tell them about old school social networking, they'll leave the site! :)