Local music is the beating heart of every big city and small town. Without our support, it might soon fade away (but we won’t let this happen!)
Every single musician in the world comes from a local music scene. Everyone starts somewhere, and that “somewhere” for a lot of artists means playing in their hometown’s old little venue with an audience of a few dozen people. Nobody did just start out playing to thousands of people in big, renowned international clubs and arenas. Nobody. All the musicians we listen to were once local artists, members of a small niche community.
Emerging musicians’ community often is a small group of people supporting each other by attending each other’s live gigs, sharing social media likes and emotional support. Why? Because not many people outside their friends and family support them.
Local gigs aren’t like a normal show. The artists are supporting themselves — they’re not on a 2-months-tour around the world. You can see their energy, passion and dedication in each concert. Even so, too many times, people attending a show seem to not want to know new artists. Too many times, when the opening band or the warm-up dj performs, the audience don’t dance, don’t smile, don’t “connect” — they just stand there gazing at their phones until a musician they know comes on stage. Needless to say, this doesn’t help the artists’ morale and the overall atmosphere as well. We often do this without even realising, so don’t feel guilty! Just remember that it’s never too late to show some appreciation and change towards a positive attitude.
In an industry so full of rejection — it’s no news that most musicians suffer from mental health illnesses — a sense of belonging and acceptance can be hugely beneficial. Isn’t it sad when a community supports their local talents only after they reach the top and their songs are played on the radio or featured in Spotify’s top playlists? Attending local gigs is vitally important to show your support to artists, independent venues, culture and the community. The only way a local artist can reach that success is by first playing at local clubs and getting support.
From one side, small venues give never-ending opportunities to emerging artists. They develop and nurture young, fresh artistic talents. However, it’s a mutual interest. In fact, also indie venues do need young bands to keep the local music scene interesting, compelling and alive for everyone in the area. Finally, both local artists and venues surely contribute to create a genuine sense of community. After all, it’s well known that music brings people together, no matter the background, age, gender or social group!
Music teaches us how to nurture our empathy and engaging with your local music community can be incredibly enriching on a personal level.
In this digital age of FOMO, economic uncertainty and billions of songs within anyone’s reach, independent, local venues can be easily forgotten. This is the worst mistake we can do to our music community. Small clubs and venues are incredibly special and sometimes underrated. Without them, emerging bands and artists wouldn’t have the platform they need to actually get their music out to the world. In the long run, this could also negatively affect the discovering of new live music acts. Social media, streaming services and algorithms-based playlists to discover new songs only do a part of the job — musicians need to be seen live!
It’s important to give all artists a chance. Listen to music without prejudices. Be open-minded, have a good time during the gig/dj set even though you don’t know the lyrics or the genre.
Also, it never hurts to support someone who isn’t part of a well-known agency or a chart topper. If you attended a concert (even if you didn’t know the artists) and you enjoyed the music, why not give a like to the band’s social media pages, write them a nice comment or leave a coin in their tip jar? You can also buy a little piece of merch (pin, sticker, tote bag) or talk to the band after the concert to show them your appreciation (local shows tend to be in tiny venues, so you can be close and personal with the artists). Emerging artists need support from their community if they want to grow and all these little, apparently-meaningless gestures can sometimes make a big contribution. You never know — the local bands you’ve seen in a filthy basement, might one day take the big step and that will be also thanks to people like you!
The next weekend night you have nothing to do, get out of your comfort zone. Check what’s happening nearby and go to some local event. Explore those tiny, less-known or recently opened venues in your city/town and see who’s playing. Don’t think of supporting the local music scene as an act of charity. It isn’t. It’s a long-term enrichment experience. You never know — one day you might be able to tell your friends you know “that cool artist from your hometown”.