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It’s a sad irony that whenever an economy goes bad, the very things that would serve to improve the situation, are the very first things to get cut out. The arts and education component of a community and society has been consistently undermined and devalued by big corporations who would rather assembly line all art for mass consumption and by too many bought-off elected officials who actually fear a knowledgeable and socio-politically active population. When it’s these big out of reach cats, it’s easy to call them out on their bullshit, but do we ourselves actually aid and abet the bullshit as well? Do we stagnate and contribute to the demise of our own independent/underground scene.  Let us see…

“Aww man, I ain’t even got it right now…” – Random cat at the bar ordering a 3rd drink

1. Wanting Music For Free – This has gotten so bad, that now dope ass artists feel forced to give away their heart and hard labor for free, lest they not even be heard. Avatar has made a BILLION dollars in the box office. Everybody, they grandma and the house pets, paid minimum of 15 dollars to sit for 2+ hours wit funny glasses on, then go home. Many folks did this 2 or 3 times giving about 45 dollars to James Cameron and a host of folks they do not know and this doesn’t included popcorn and soda and such. Many will give more money for the dvd…. Now your local neighborhood singer/rapper/musician has put in many hours and hours of writing and production and recording and mixing and designing graphics and packaging and self critiquing and more, so that YOU can have new music to experience and potentially connect with and appreciate. Next He/she hopes that you might be generous and supportive enough to contribute at least 5 bucks, 1/3 the cost of a 3D flick, so that he/she can pay bills, eat food, take the bus, get better equipment to make better music for YOU, etc. When you pass on giving 5 bucks to support an artist, you pass on contributing to the health of an independent/underground music scene and culture. I’m in no way saying you need to buy music from everyone, but what I am saying is that you should add supporting a few local artists to your list of monthly leisure expenses. When you do not, you inadvertently assist in the stagnation and possible death of the music scene, because those artists are then forced to seek other means of earning paper instead of cultivating their craft to provide a quality soundtrack to the community.

1+ Buy The Music –  I’ll restate it, add supporting a few local artists to your list of monthly leisure expenses. If you contributed just $25 dollars a month to supporting local musicians through purchasing music, you would be doing your part to keep YOUR local music scene moving. If you honestly don’t have an extra $25, chances are you are an artist and are therefore excused……I know the economy is shit, but in this shit economy a movie made over billion dollars and became the highest grossing film ever, so…

“I gotta ask… So if I don’t put u on the guest list, does that mean u won’t come to my show?” – Kween

2. Not Supporting Local Live Performances
Since music is now being given away for free, it is even more important that you come out AND PAY to support the artist and the scene. I emphasize “AND PAY” because just being there (often via guest list) is only half of the equation. A party promoter and venue will gauge a truly successful night by how many paid the cover charge and by how many drinks were sold. It is the business of entertainment. In order to provide quality entertainment, a lot of time, energy and money goes into negotiations, flyers/posters, band rehearsals,etc. You could have the most crackin’ party filled with people, dope performances and good vibes, but if no one paid to enter the venue and drink sales were low, then from a business viewpoint it was not a successful event. Doubly so, if people do not even show up.  Unless it’s a charity event or a strictly-for-the-love type of venue/event, profits are the goal. If the venue and promoter do not make much or any profit, the artists performing get paid very little for their efforts, if they get paid at all. This leads to venues not supporting local performers (up and coming especially), which means local artists (whom, if you forgot, are now giving their music away for free) do not have any means of earning a living as a recording/performance artist in their own area. This leads to dope local artists moving to New York, LA or Atlanta or wherever else, in search of a way to get their food, clothing, shelter, etc. taking care of through their creativity.

2+ Pay The Cover Charge – Add investing in a few local live performers to your list of monthly leisure expenses. By contributing just $25 dollars a month to supporting, through attending live performances, you would be doing your part to keep YOUR local music scene moving. If you honestly don’t have an extra $25 (yes, it is rough right now), you can try to get on the guest list. If you have the ability to pay, you should do it. When you do, venues and promoters are happy because they have covered their costs of providing you with entertainment and they made a good profit. They then can pay performers better fees and invite them to return because the artist has a crowd that pays, allowing money to circulate. This also helps to generate “buzz” for the artist, which then translates in to more media exposure for the artist, which leads to more shows for the artist, which leads to a bigger “buzz”, now attracting non-local interest in the local artist, which leads to….. You get the point.
Choose at least 2 live performance artists, especially your friends and invest in them, not just by finding your way in for free, but by paying the cost of admission. Underground/independent music scenes thrive and grow through a strong interdependency. Artists will always give, if the community gives back then the cycle will always flow.

If 100 people invested $50 a month to a local entertainment scene of their choice, that’s $5000 dollars being put into that scene in one month. If the organizers and entertainers within that scene have the support and investment of a community, then that support and investment will translate into a better livelihood for artists, leading to better music and performances that keep the everyone energized as the energy flow multiples.

(Shout out to Sake 1, Kween and Marty for the inspiration)