Entertainment Magazine

Scene Leadership And You

Posted on the 01 April 2017 by Indiemusicpromo @urbandisavirus

Every scene has leaders, on a local level, a regional one and even national and international levels. That’s just a huge part of how independent music works, there are people out there who provide guidance to their preferred genre, giving up their lives for the music and often sacrificing their own health and financial resources in the name of the music they love. That’s how anyone has ever gotten big, is by working with these leaders, these tastemakers and finding ways to work together to create some truly powerful stuff. However people seem to have a lot of issue with scene leaders and often try to tear them down and create hate pages. The music industry often feels like a high school, and it’s things like this that only serve to tear down the scene that I thought we were working together to create. In light of a few recent events I wanted to look into the role scene leaders have and what we can do to help them and by extension grow our own bands.

I think the first thing that most people just getting involved in a particular music scene find is that scene leaders get hated on a lot. They get hated on more than managers or other industry people too largely because other industry people tend to be quieter, while scene leaders are out trying to be architects for a larger community. Of course people get upset when they think someone is trying to lead them and they don’t think that person is totally qualified, often because said person is LGBTQ, non-white or y’know, a woman. Other times scene leaders sometimes say cantankerous shit just because they are tired of dealing with your bullshit. I’m not defending anything a scene leader might say ,but sometimes I feel like I get it. When it comes down to it, the people who are trying to give the most to the scene are routinely the most shit upon and this leads to some greater long term issues in terms of development of the music you love.

It’s easy to get into a scene and look up to the people who tend to direct the whole thing and wonder how they got there. I think the immediate question many people have is why they can’t be at the top like some of these scene leaders, especially if they have been involved with the music for longer. In my view it’s easy to ignore all of the hard work those people did, the shows they promoted and the articles they wrote in order to be among the best and the brightest. It’s easy to forget that to be a scene leader is to dedicate your life and your sanity to the name of something far greater than yourself. It’s to sit down and realize that you will never have normalcy. Now a lot of people who don’t lead the scene can claim to have all those attributes – but I’ve found many of them have never really sat down and thought about it. Do you really stay up late every night honing your craft and giving back? Or are you just smoking weed with your buddies in bands? Those are the sorts of questions you need to be asking yourself.

The other thing to remember is the scene leaders gave up their lives for this crazy thing we call music for a reason. They are probably super nice and supportive of new bands. They probably go out of their way to give new bands shows or to write articles about upcoming releases. Scene leaders got to where they are by having their fingers on the pulse and if your band is remotely good then sending it over to one of them should be helpful. I mean a lot of these people are busy, but message enough and you might strike gold. Don’t be offended if you don’t get the coverage you want though, remember that these people are busy and if you go out of your way to insult them or express frustration then you are entirely missing the point of their years of effort on the behalf of people like you, people who just want their bands to be even remotely successful. I know that sounds harsh but these are the realities we must face.

So what does it take to be able to network with he scene leaders who can help to rocket your band to popularity? Well a lot of it is simply taking the time to figure out ways to help them fight the destructive people and collaborating. I would almost advise against hitting up scene leaders directly and instead letting them com to you after they have been impressed with your work ethic. People who are invested in heavy music know what’s going on and they can tell when a band has been putting in the effort required to contribute to the scene in a meaningful way. Sometimes you just need to grind it out until folks start to take notice. I guarantee though that some of the first people to notice will be these scene leaders and they will want to collaborate on something greater. As long as you prove you are a positive force and can be reasonable and friendly the world will start to find a sustainable path forward.

It’s 20% of the people in the scene who do 80% of the work, but it’s really only the top 1% or so who really matter. This is not an easy lifestyle, nor is it one that makes a ton of sense for most people to get involved in. To become a big fish in the relatively small pond that is a given music scene takes a lot of hard work and it gives you a minimal reward. Most people who could be viewed as ‘scene bosses’ still have day jobs after all. Yet for them things are worth it and there is a consistent path forward. As long as you want to actively be a part of this and help to develop a system for everyone that is sustainable then your scene leaders will come to you. There are plenty of Hard Times articles joking about the scene elders – why not become one?

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