“Support the Scene” – 10 Ways to Really Make a Difference

Support the scene! Go to gigs. Buy music and merch. Buy them from the bands direct, not from Amazon. Take photos, make art, make music. Blog about your favourites; evangelise! Make shit happen. Fund kick starters if you can. Wear the t-shirts, the badges, the beanies and the hoodies. Podcast. Write reviews, distribute flyers, fly posters. Like, share and attend. Buy me a drink.

Don’t “support the scene”.

“Support the scene!” is the promotional equivalent of throwing oneself at the feet of a soon-to-be ex-partner, sobbing “Don’t leave meeee!”.

Desperate, futile, sad.

Too late, too little, too bad.

No. It’s worse than that. It’s adding in “Or I’ll kill myself. And it’ll be your fault. ”

Because nothing puts things right quite like emotional blackmail does.  [edit: Or, as my friend Gillywoo puts it, promotional blackmail.]

Amnesty International need your support. Your local hospice needs your support. Is your event – your “scene” – a charity case? I’d argue otherwise.

If you truly want to support the scene you love, here’s how to do it ….

1. Evangelise!
Love a band, a club, a zine, an online radio show, or just the scene in general? Tell people about it! Nothing works better than word of mouth, and by sharing your passion, you’re spreading the word about the music the matters to you.

2. Corollary to 1: Try not to bitch too publicly about stuff
Nobody likes everything, even if it fits in the right bit of a Venn diagram. But when we publicly bitch about bands, events and whatnot that we don’t rate, it turns folk off. Either they extrapolate to think it refers to the whole scene, or they just think we’re a load of bitchy backstabbers. Try to restrict your venting to a trusted (and preferably offline) audience, no matter the temptation. This is why pubs were invented.
[edit: to clarify, by public bitching I’m referring to unsolicited “I hate this band, they suck!” comments on social media and such – obviously, if you’re a regular reviewer of releases/events, then a range of honest opinions is to be expected.  Although I’d still hope that unfavourable reviews would be as objective and constructive as possible, rather than the exercise in sneering, snobbery, self-promotion and superiority that blighted the likes of the NME from time to time.]

3. Don’t accept mediocrity
It’s easy to be overly positive. In a not-for-profit scene, where everybody wants to help each other and get involved, we’re liable to overlook the fact that some people are trying to do things that they’re not. Actually. Any good at.
Yeah, they’re our mates. Yeah, they’re lovely people. But it does nobody any good to pretend they’re awesome. Instead, it reflects poorly on all of us that we’re accepting somebody with the right clothes and hairstyle as the next big thing when in fact they’re a deluded hack because they’re sound really. We all do too much of this. Let’s stop. Nicely (see 2).

4. But do help nurture new talent
The corollary to the above is not to expect everybody to arrive fully-formed. If there’s a wee sniff of talent, let’s celebrate and nurture it. For ourselves, we’ve encouraged any number of new bands to develop from openers to headliners. This is the lifeblood of our scene, and stops us becoming some nostalgia circuit. Sniff out the new talent, nurture it and watch it grow.

5. Actually. Fucking. Support. The Scene.
Y’know, the best expression of support is at the front desk and the merch stall. Every quid you pass over to event organisers and band members directly helps more stuff happen. Buy tickets, badges, CDs, t-shirts and what-have-you, and you’re doing your very best to ensure new stuff continues to happen. None of us pay the bills with likes, shares, or good wishes.

6. But don’t just be a consumer
The difference between a subculture and the mainstream music scene is that everybody gets to take part. This isn’t a “star on stage, punter in a fenced-off bit of the arena” thing – we’re genuinely all in it together. If you’ve any talents by way of musicianship, DJing, photography, videography, writing, organisation, gear-lugging, art, poetry, oration or whatever – find an outlet! The more people that contribute, the richer the scene will be!

7. Be collegiate
We’re a small scene. There’s no space here for two small nights in a minor city to go head-to-head, for bands to start feuds. We’re stronger when we work together. And any enmities are likely to lead to both sides losing. Talk to one another, collaborate, and cross-promote. It’s best for everybody!

8. Be an ambassador!
In common with all subcultures, the goth scene suffers a poor public image, by and large. It’s beholden on all of us to represent ourselves well; to be polite, friendly and informative to the curious, to conduct ourselves well online, to encourage newcomers without judgment, and to basically be a little less gother-than-thou than nature suggests.

9. Buy drinks!
Really. I’ll do a piece on the goth gig economy at some point in the future (and edit in the link here), but absolutely the best thing you can do for your local goth night is to go along, buy lots of drinks, and not cause trouble. Small venues are struggling all over, and need the income. If they can get more income (and most of this is over the bar) from a trip-hop, tribute, karaoke, or sports crowd, they will.

10. Don’t be a splitter!
We’re stronger united than divided. The absolute worst thing for a local scene is when one party goes all Republican and declares “You’re either with us or against us”. Folks, there ain’t enough of us to get away with that shit. We stand together, or fall divided.

 

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