Play music seriously for long enough and it’s all but inevitable that you’ll eventually come across musicians who feel dissatisfied and let down by their music scenes. For as personal and isolating creating music can be for some artists, it’s almost impossible to succeed without being a part of some sort of music community, so it makes sense why music scenes are such a heated point of discussion within circles of musicians.
For musicians who are just getting started or those who feel left out of their local music community, building a music scene from the ground up is always an option. Here are a few tips on how:
Find, connect with, and support like-minded artists
Thriving and supportive music communities don’t just materialize out of nowhere. Impactful music scenes can only happen once musicians make the effort to attend each other’s shows and spread the word about the music being made by other artists in the community. If you’re interested in creating your own scene from the ground up, this means that you probably won’t get very far if you make music and wait for other musicians to support you.
Build your own scene by finding artists you resonate with and connecting with them. See their shows, buy their music, and support them in the way you wish you were being supported. Independent labels often refuse to work with artists they don’t know personally because it takes so much more than good music for bands to be successful. Strong work ethic, loyalty, and trust are personality traits most of the music scene looks for in artists, and there’s no better place to develop them than in a small, active music scene.
Collaborate and plan
Once you’ve connected with other artists, continue to build and develop your scene by playing together and pooling your resources. If your band plays a show alone, you’ll probably draw some old fans and possibly a few new people, but if you start playing shows with bands in your community, you’ll have a better chance of bringing out a much larger group of people. And this idea is much bigger than just playing shows. It’s about carving out a distinct identity for your unique music community. Your scene should be a reliable place listeners can come to find good music, no matter what genre of music you make.
Impactful scenes can take years to develop, but they’re vital when it comes to developing and showcasing musical talent. And in 2018, music scenes are no longer confined to physical locations. Musicians are discovering each other and connecting in meaningful ways online more now than ever before, so if it’s just not possible to build a music scene where you live, don’t despair. It takes a good amount of work, but you can connect, perform with and collaborate with artists you resonate with online. But regardless if the scene you hope to create is physical or digital, nothing will happen without you making the first step.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.