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Regional hits sound so fine

post brought to you by: calmstock

They sure do Mr. Gent. In fact, most of my favorite music is in some way “local.” From post-punk to punk-punk, new folk to new country, I by and large listen to music made by people that I in some way know— or that at least I might have the to chance to get to know. Sure I’m a bit spoiled living in Boston, and if you live in NYC or LA a whole lot of music is in some way “local.” But the point is this: for those out of touch with their local scenes, get in touch! Plugging in to your local scene is beneficial to you and your community–and the music is way better than you might think.

Buy local!
Many make it a point to buy local produce, support local mom and pop shops, drink locally brewed beer, etc. Why? Because buying local keeps money circulating locally, keeps people in business and creates and sustains jobs, nurtures what’s unique about a community, creates more choice–something large (inter)national brands are often fighting against, and puts one a step closer to those providing the goods they consume. It’s the same with music (and all the arts for that matter). Supporting your local music scene puts money directly into the pockets of artists hustling hard to sustain (and grow) their work, amplifies what rocks about your community, creates more choice–something major record labels more or less abhor, and gets you up close and personal with the music you love. In short, supporting your local scene makes for meaningful musical experiences, and it helps make your town a cool place to be. While creative economy research is still a work in progress, one can easily point to the connection between healthy cities and vibrant arts and culture scenes. So get plugged in.

Every town has a great _____ band
I have a theory that every town has a great punk band. I’d also be willing to bet that every town has a handful of great singer-songwriter types. And any town with a few cool indie-pop/rock bands (every town?) probably has a few ex-rockers wandering into twang town, trading in post-punk riffs for acoustics and heartbreak. And all the kids are hacking away with computers and electronics. The point? If you’re mostly a fan of big-time, platinum-selling, super-star artists, consider this: there’s likely someone doing an interesting variation of that kind of music right in your backyard. And meanwhile, there are likely others making music in ways you didn’t know existed. So instead of handing over $50-$100 to sit 50 or 100 yards away in some arena with bad sound to see a band that’s going to hop on the bus and skip town as soon as the lights go up, consider instead hitting your local club for $10 to get up-close with a band just as interesting–one you can chat with over a (local?) beer after their set. This isn’t to say that one should completely eschew major label artists. There’s some truly amazing ones for sure, but at one point in time they all depended on local support. So do try to infuse your listening habits with something locally brewed.  There’s a lot to be said about digging music made by people in your community; there’s a unique common currency––and your support might help them grow into something special.

So…
Get plugged in to your local scene. Don’t just be a customer of music. Be a part of  it. Do you want to be a consumer of radio-friendly unit shifters (most awesomely ironic song title ever?) or do you want to have a more personal relationship with the music you love and help your community a bit in the process? To get started, you’ll need to suss out a few locally-sourced music blogs as your local print/web news publications are likely providing little to no local arts + music coverage. Subscribe to the blogs via a reader of some sort and learn the lay of the land–your land (p.s. if there aren’t any local music blogs, start one). Then start supporting your local scene. If you’re not sure how, Brian McTear recently wrote a nice post on the Future of Music Coalition website outlining ways in which people can support the music they love. It’s  a great read. And if you’re in a band and your scene is lacking, read Scott James’ post on Music Think Tank and start your own (another great read).

Finally, speaking of Regional Hits, if you’re in Boston next month you best catch The Figgs at T.T. The Bear’s on Friday, December 18 with The Russians and the Corin Ashley Quartet. Those are some of the finest regional hits around.

3 Responses to “Regional hits sound so fine”

  1. I’ve been saying the same thing. Local/regional acts can be just as good or better than touring acts.

    Sometimes fans and the local media make the assumption that if you are mostly playing locally, you couldn’t make it nationally. That’s not necessarily the case. Some people don’t want to tour and others have jobs and families that tie them to an area.

    Even the new music business model discussions tend to focus on how to extend your reach nationally/internationally.

    Here’s something I wrote that incorporates some of my thoughts on the matter.

    http://brandsplusmusic.blogspot.com/2009/09/lets-get-realistic-about-your-music.html

    • calmstock says:

      Suzanne – wonderful post, thanks for sharing.

      As I said on your blog, I think the key for musicians these days is to know why they do what to they do. Chances are, it’s reason enough.

      As you say:

      “The music you create ultimately needs to be its own reward.”

      Words to live by.

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