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Why Your Local

Musicians Are the

Only Ones You
Should Be Listening
Ghavin Deonarain
A few days ago a friend and I found ourselves in a quiet college town located right around
the mouth of hell (as we colloquially refer to New Jersey). As we sat basking in the April sun-
shine, sipping coffee and judging the hell out of everyone walking by, he turned to me and
asked, do you think they have a music scene out here? Being the reasonable conversation-
alist I am, I calmly reminded him that this was a college town and to assume that a college
town wouldnt have a music scene would be so utterly dunderheaded that I would legiti-
mately fear for his progeny. He responded by calling me an asshole (I begrudge this may be
accurate) and we returned to our coffee. Yet his question has stuck with me over these last
few days and makes me wonder whether there are you some of you out there who genuine-
ly believe that your town doesnt have any musicians in it. If thats the case, let me assure
you that youre almost certainly wrong. We musicians are like lice, we are numerous, often
times difficult to find, but were there and were always strumming guitars. Fast crumbling
metaphors aside, its a really good idea for you to find the musicians that live around you
and support the hell out of them, because youll find that you and your local artists can
strike a happy medium thats beneficial for the both of you

Before we explore these benefits, a little bit of harsh reality; your favorite barroom rock star
or bringer-show headliner probably isnt going to be burning a fast track to the heights of
Billboards Top 40 anytime soon. That really shouldnt be a particularly controversial state-
ment, so much as its simply a numbers game. If you think sports are reserved for the elite
then wait until you see the percentages of musicians who shook off all accusations of ama-
teurism and graced the pop radio waves with their music. So whats required then is a mov-
ing of the goalposts (if there are any wannabe musical legends in the audience, listen up).
Perhaps the heights of mega-stardom shouldnt be the definition of success, but being able
to make a living off of your art is. That isnt such a huge ask, its actually quite fair; if some-
one is going to create for your enjoyment, then it shouldnt have to be something that they
do in their spare time for free (or next to nothing).
So this is how you can help. Streaming music has
fast become the dominant method for listening
to music, outpacing its peers in listening mediums
faster than the companies who offer the service
can turn a profit. If the numbers are to be believed
youre probably streaming something yourself.
But just because the Spotifys of the world are the
kings of the hill at the moment doesnt mean that
theyve got the only way that you can listen. In fact,
youll be doing the artists a much bigger favor by
showing up to their show in the back of a converted
flea market than you ever would giving Google Play
your ten dollars a month to put their tracks on your
phone. The simple fact is this: marquee artists arent
making enough money off of their streaming deals,
so what chance does a grassroots band have in that
kind of marketplace?

And the great thing is, theres a ton that youll get
in return too. For starters, a full docket of acts at
one of these types of shows typically runs you have probably had their worldview shaped by the
between $5 and $20. Thats for between three and same environments that shaped yours. And that
five acts, which bang-for-your-buck wise, is kind can be a pretty powerful thing. All of a sudden the
of a steal even at the premium pricing. And dont themes, opinions, even the style of music that a
worry, there will be plenty of alcohol there for you band chooses becomes a statement not only on
to suffer through the bands who are playing their their history, but yours as well. There is no great-
first show and are only there to get the on stage er potential for shared connection because you
jitters out. There are also usually a bunch of really already do share a connection. Even if that con-
cool, like-minded people whove showed up because nection is as superfluous as the same zip code.
theyre as open to new art as you are. Even cooler,
they often tend to be doing new art themselves. Part of me feels this is necessary because, living
Essentially, if youre artistically inclined, then this in New York, its hard to support sincere artists
could fast become your new community center. The as much as you can elsewhere. Being in a big city,
faces become familiar, you develop your critical ear, youre a bit spoiled for choice to the point where
and you put some cash into the pocket of a band you become petrified to make a decision lest you
thats doing their best to communicate their art to fall victim to your FOMO. And even if we werent,
the audience that will best get them. the experiences that you collect here can be worlds
away from your neighbors. But in smaller towns
And therein lies the greatest benefit that youll ever across America theres a good chance that youll
get from showing your love to your local artists: have a point of context through which you can
shared relevant experiences. Ive written before better understand the girl playing the guitar at the
about the transformative power of art through its open mic. Even more importantly, what shes singing
communication of subjective experience. And there could subvert your point of context and broaden
are plenty of huge artists out there that probably your horizons, and not just musically. Thats kind of
totally resonate with your emotions and personality a really beautiful thing to have. And chances are itll
(Ive recently been listening to nothing but How only cost you five bucks, especially in sleepy college
to Disappear Completely by Radiohead for sadness towns.
reasons). But at the same time your local bands

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