"Support The Scene" is a Meaningless Slogan

You've heard it more times than you can count if you're a musician, but what does “support the scene” mean to a non-musician? In all likelihood, nothing, but nevertheless it's a saying that's tossed around more than drug paraphernalia after seeing blue lights. First, let's define what “The Scene” is: in reality, it's all those bands in your local area; the venues; the people that book shows and the few people dedicated to not sitting at home on the weekend complaining that there is nothing to do in their town. In the minds of many musicians and people who run “promotion” (read: Spam) pages on social media, “The Scene” is their friends' bands and whichever band just got sponsored by some god-awful energy drink or domestic beer. On these so-called promotion sites, I often see phrases like “we support bands who deserve it” which implies that they have named themselves the “taste-makers” and any band they don't cover is unworthy of a listen. I call bullshit on this false logic and I refuse to take part in it.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, can listen to whatever they choose and may run their business however they see fit, but to run around yelling “support the scene” and only give credence to what's radio-ready is a glaring hypocrisy in my eyes. In order for a music scene to thrive, it must not only be accepting of many genres of music, it must weed out the artists who are only in it for themselves. How can a scene thrive when everyone is shouting “look at me!” in unison? “Look at us!” would be a much more effective rallying cry, but as long as there are independent media outlets shunning everyone who doesn't fit the mold, nothing will change. I expect that attitude from the big names, but for independents to adopt that attitude as well, is absurd.

Yes, what I'm suggesting could be considered a more “Punk Rock” aesthetic, but think about how many romanticized documentaries and web articles are out there glorifying the old days of Punk. It's not because they made a lot of money or achieved some high level of fame, those times are looked back upon fondly because the people in those early scenes celebrated originality and free-thinking. The art-form itself was first and foremost; no one would have even considered putting a corporate sponsor on a flier, but now it's the norm and almost expected. It's been ingrained into us that unless a company you've heard of is behind it, it must not be very good and that's simply not the case.

Before anyone starts trying to paint me as some sort of ancient throwback who fears change and refuses to adapt, let me state that change is exactly what I'm calling for and what I pursue. Personally, I'm tired of being pitched to and I'm sure a lot of you feel the same way. I love music because apart from it being what speaks to me loudest, it's something that's never really tried to sell me anything except more music. (Well, a shirt or something too, but after all, you do need clothes.) I'm not against bands getting paid for their craft, far from it; what I'm against is music becoming just another marketing scheme. I'm tired of the commonly accepted notion that music isn't good unless a corporation tells you it's good. There is nothing “Punk Rock” about skate shoes, energy drinks or some TV network. You can get paid without pimping yourself out for some corporation and it's time independent bands start coming to that realization.

In Hip-Hop, for example, fashion has always been at least a small part of the genre itself. Since the very beginning, people have thrown lyrics about their chain, car or shoes into their verses; it's only recently that this particular practice has become the focal point. When a rapper starts a clothing line or designs his own sneakers, that's really just an extension of the genre and a way to “diversify the hustle” and I respect it as long as it's genuine. It's not much different than a Heavy Metal band getting a guitar or amp endorsement, it's something you use and need to present yourself and your music properly. Besides, a partnership is different than being a spokesman or mascot. Yeah, that all boils down to image and superficiality sucks, but hey, this is SHOW-business after all. Even the crustiest Punk band has an image, but again, as long as it's genuine there shouldn't be a problem. No one likes a poser... well, actually the major labels do as long as none of the fans find out and they continue making money.

Supporting the scene isn't about being seen at the “cool” bars with the trendiest clothes on, drinking the most expensive liquor and generally keeping up appearances. It's not about being seen at all, it's about solidarity and basically just being a human being. I'm reminded of the people who always ask “when is your band playing?” and the ones who stand in the parking lot talking for the duration of the show as if they're too cool to stand up front, applaud or simply feel as though walking through the door should be enough. That's not supporting the scene, that's being a douchebag. I really can't even tell you how many times I've watched a band completely kill at a show and get no response whatsoever from even the people watching. In fact, I've gotten funny looks at shows for screaming along to the words or giving a drunken “wooooo!” after a song. I'm not the crazy one, you people standing there with your arms folded are the crazy ones.

Be wary of the people who spout meaningless slogans often. Pay attention to the language they use and notice what they truly stand for because I can assure you that everyone is selling something. What am I selling? I'm selling ideas for absolutely free with no obligation to purchase anything in the future. I'm selling ideas like “only you can define success” and “remain unapologetically true to yourself and your vision”. I want you to join with the people in your area and take control of your scene. Take it away from the radio stations that always play the same fifteen songs and the magazines and TV shows that ignore any band that's even remotely aggressive; especially the ones with a “radical” message. Take it back from the shady promoters that charge rappers exorbitant amounts of money for a 5 minute opening slot. Take it back from the promoters that always come up with excuses to not pay bands or even offer a few free drinks. If this music is truly your life, then treat it as such and take it into your own hands. That is how you support the scene.

1 comment:

  1. aggressive; especially the ones with a “radical” message. Take it back
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