I love movies. I especially like the special effects bonanzas with dinosaurs and space ships. I like to watch them in my basement with a cold, delicious craft-brewed beer, preferably something wheaty of Belgian origin. But I’ve never convinced myself that I should make my own, movies or beers.
Our fair cities are overrun with godawful musicians who bring down the entire art form. Rail-thin hipsters with Casio keyboards, whiny chicks with acoustic guitars and rednecks who shall bring back the rawk are killing the local music scene.
There are, of course, exceptions. The world is full of great bands, some known, some not, and they all started somewhere. They should be encouraged, supported and nurtured. They should be appreciated, and they should be paid. I’m not discussing them right now, I’m trying to save them.
When I tell people I’m in a band, I get a wide array of responses. Some people imagine me strung out in a posh hotel doing lines off a model’s stomach. Some are excited and want to hear all about it. Most just shrug apathetically, because they already know loads of people in loads of bands. It’s not anything special.
Those people aren’t entirely wrong. Being in a band used to mean something. It used to mean hours spent rehearsing and more hours spent promoting. It used to mean saving money from a crappy part-time job to scrape up enough to record a demo. It used to mean that you believed in yourself and your band enough to actually devote some effort into making something out of it.
Now, any schmuck with a couple hundred bucks can slap together a demo, dump it on MySpace and book a show at some local club’s New Band Night. You know that deal: four bands nobody cares about playing for each other’s roommates and girlfriends, maybe even that guy from work who doesn’t get out much. The club makes just enough to justify unlocking the door, at least on average.
Meanwhile, those bands that are actually more interested in making music than scoring chicks have a whole new hurdle to overcome: you.
How can a band be expected to draw well when you’ve trained the city to believe that local music sucks? How can a club build up a scene when nine out of ten local bands actually drive customers out the door? How can you expect me to tell my friends and fans to stick around for your set when you can’t even tune your own instrument?
I don’t blame you, I really don’t. You love music, you probably always have. You grew up playing air guitar in your bedroom and dreamed of taking the stage. You wrote a song that got you laid Freshman year, so you must have talent. Why shouldn’t you be playing local clubs?
I’ll tell you why: you’re pissing on the scene.
A local music scene with a hundred great bands is something to be excited about. Shows become events, and people actually make plans for events. You can walk into any live music club and see something worthwhile. A local music scene with a hundred great bands and a thousand horrible ones is just a nuisance. Who wants to risk those kinds of odds? Pissing in your beer doesn’t make more beer, it just ruins what you already had.
So if you love music but have no talent for it, please, stop. A great local music scene needs an audience. Our local music scene needs an audience far more than it needs another band. Our local music scene needs you, just not on stage.