A Rant On Community Awareness

So here’s one that I think not a lot of people want to hear simply because it requires a lot of work and emotional labor, and this is the value of community awareness. I’m not just talking about why it matters that you know the other bands in your scene and become friends with them, though that is a part of it. I am talking about knowing the other people in your scene and what they do and how you can all rise together. In other words, it’s great that you are making friends with bands and figuring out who should be coming out to your shows and who you should be playing shows with, but sometimes the most value you can build together is going to be through your work outside of music. So often people will just let a relationship end at ‘Oh he’s in a band’ but most people aren’t just in a band, most people have a lot of other exciting elements that make them potent contributors to the scene who you can grow with.

The main connection that people have which allows them to grow the scene is their day jobs. This can manifest itself in all sorts of weird ways. While sure, it’s always really good in my eyes to meet digital marketers who can generate value for you by teaching you how to run Facebook ads better there’s a whole bunch more to it than that. For example – I think it’s always a great idea to try and find out how band members apply any of their job skills to their band lives. This is how I’ve met people who do great layouts, or who are awesome at accounting and can help you with band taxes, lawyers who understand the rules of the country or whatever else your concern might be. Now that underground music has had a few generations to really sort itself out, you can meet people from all walks of life active in the music underground and with them develop something far greater and more substantial.

I want to be very careful to point out though that I am not saying that you should just be taking advantage of the people in your scene. You’re not here to use them as suckers who give you free services. That’s just self centered and useless for everyone. Instead, your mission should be to focus on growth, mutual and universal. Thing is – the dude who REALLY REALLY understands Facebook ads probably doesn’t want to spend a bunch of time with a burnout teaching him stuff he is never going to use. So you need to take the time to prove that not only are you not a burnout but furthermore that you are going to be able to bring them value. There are a ton of different ways to do that, but if you’re not doing that, and you’re not going out of your way to help others by guiding them along and showing them the ways you have grown then they are not going to show you what they know. I know that sounds fairly simple but you would be amazed at the amount of people who don’t understand this basic reality.

If you are trying to find the people who can do these things it is often not more than a Facebook post away. If you have been generating actual value for your scene, be it through booking shows, writing about bands, promoting bands or whatever then people are going to jump at the chance when you say you need help. Just ask to see who knows what and then DM the people who seem to be the most helpful. All the while though it is very important to be courteous to them and thankful for their time whilst simultaneously looking at how you can give back to that person. This is how you build meaningful relationships though. It is not by expecting the world to come to you that you grow, but rather by putting out meaningful work into the world with the realization that you are going to eventually find the right people who will be interested in helping you. These things are tricky and it really might require some self improvement on your end – but for me at least that’s a huge part of the fun.

You might be reading this article and thinking ‘Well it’s all well and good that I need to make friends with the people in my scene who know how to do shit but I don’t have anything to offer in return.’ Well, first of all, you could pay them. If you paid them they would probably do it for fairly cheap because it’s supporting the scene. Or you could do the true DIY thing and fucking LEARN SOMETHING YOURSELF LIKE A REAL FUCKING PUNK and then offer to help them with that. This can be one of any number of things. While the most obvious might be Facebook ads, I also think there is value to being the guy who is really good at writing copy, or making flyers, or who has a lot of friends who he can get to come out to just about any local show. I know that all of these things sound obvious and easy, but guess what, they are not and most of you reading this who don’t feel like they have anything to offer are not going to spend the time developing a skill to offer. Which sucks, but you need to learn something and not just be a lump, or worse a drain on the community you claim to care for.

That’s really the long and short of it. You can either get personally invested in growing something meaningful, contributing to a cause and looking to expand, or you can fall behind everyone else, be just another scumbag and leave us all frustrated at your shortsightedness. There are a ton of educated people around you right now. Just by being in a position to take the five minutes to read this article to help your unsigned band puts you so far ahead of most people in the world and honestly far ahead of most other bands. So either take advantage of that and grow, or sit down and shut up because you can’t be bothered to improve what you are doing.

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