Artists sometimes have trouble making friends with regular people. Especially if they’re eccentric artists. This can hurt their potential success, given that a large fan base consists mostly of regular type people. The good news is, artists can usually do well at befriending other artists–of greater or lesser eccentricity. When artists become friends with each other and start forming communities, scenes, etc., their momentum often leads to artistic movements. What began as local movements ultimately end up influencing global trends and styles in music, fashion, film, and the list goes on.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The British Invasion was an early example of this in music. Every key British Invasion artist benefited greatly from their peers’ success in the music industry. Collectively, the British Invasion created a cultural explosion throughout Europe and the US. It was, however, an example of several different music scenes from the UK ultimately banding together to form a cultural shockwave. Up-and-comers these days need to think smaller scale.
The Punk scene exploded in the 80s and then the Grunge scene in the 90s. These ended up having just as much effect globally as did the British Invasion. The punk scene was borne of Washington DC area hardcore bands espousing an original do-it-yourself ethic. When one band got famous, so did others. Same thing happened in Grunge a decade later, but this time in Seattle. If we can learn anything from this, it’s that once a scene grows to encompass enough original talent, that scene turns into a movement which then affects trends nationally and so on.
It’s so important to recognize that all you need for a scene to evolve into a movement is artists willing to reach out to one another. This means regardless of scene; irrespective of genre; whether or not you live uptown or downtown, all you have to do is connect enough bubbling talent in your city or region and *boom*. Cultural explosion. This is where I get the term ‘brand bands together’. Don’t focus on just branding yourself like the major labels do for Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Those kinds of scenes are manufactured and thus usually die out as quickly as they come up. A lasting movement and, indeed, moment, in art culture happens when dedicated, original talent connects with like-minded people in the formation of an unstoppable cultural front.
I’m sure that in every city, there are more and more people realizing that if only each music scene quit being so cliquey, they could collectively become a much more potent cultural force. That doesn’t mean metal needs to stop being so metally and hip-hop so hippy-hoppy. It just means a couple innovators from each scene need to come together and cross-genre boundaries and single-handedly forge the next era of music. It is happening. Slowly. But we need to encourage the connecting of key players in every scene to speed it along. We also need to discourage it from getting caught up in the old industry mentality. That will just breed a new era of Limp Bizkits and Linkin Parks, this time targeting even younger audiences.
Vancouver’s music scene feels that way to me. Each scene, be it metal, hardcore, indie, urban, seems to be so closed in upon itself. Whenever that starts happening, you know that we are on the brink of a new musical era–an evolution of music as we know it. Will it be as cool as the Psychedelic era was? Who knows. But if any city is ready to start building the foundation for this new era in music, it’s this one. We just need to mix our connectors and mavens together until something fruitful comes of it, and then mix some more.
Let me know your ideas about how we can get the right people together, representing every kind of scene, all under one roof. Vancouver and elsewhere!