Lately I’ve read a few different hypotheses about why there is no local music scene in Tuscarawas County. While I don’t disagree with the theories already afloat, I greatly dispute the idea that they are the main reasons there is no scene in this area. I figure it would be fun to throw my two cents into this discussion. Hopefully I’ll make some valid points and spark a change for the better. Or I’ll piss some people off. Either way, we’re in for a good time.
The biggest problem with the music scene in T-County is that there isn’t much sense of community. It’s every band for themselves. Every time I see a facebook post saying “Come out to and see my band play with the same handful of bands we’re always playing with!” I always feel they should end it with “SUPPORT MY DREAM” instead of “SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC.”
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not the desire to beat others” -Ayn Rand
I was shocked when I started going to shows in Canton because I would see members of several different bands who weren’t playing that night. With most of the bands I know in New Philadelphia the only time you’ll catch them out is on the night their band is playing. I’m not saying that everyone in the area is like this, but those who are should realize that the best way to start building a community is to be part of it. We’ll never have a music community if people don’t get out to support it.
The other thing we need is good great bands. I’ve been in a lot of bands where my fellow musicians wanted to write six songs and gig forever instead of taking the time to write great songs. Many bands are content with being good enough and never even work toward being great. When we have several bands with this philosophy, we end up with a bunch of bands that sound exactly the same. We shouldn’t just content ourselves with mediocrity. And we shouldn’t all be in bands that sound exactly like one another. There’s no sense in having 12 bands that are trying to be the next Slipknot or doing a cover of Bullet For My Valentine’s “Your Betrayal.”
And it’s hard to make a band great in six months. We have a shortage of bands with longevity. Sure, certain bands have been on the scene for years, but some of them have had long hiatuses. We need bands that are consistently out there putting out good stuff.
Of course, there’s also little demand for a scene in T-County. According to the 2010 census the population is 92,392. Compare that to Stark County with 374,868 or Cuyahoga with 1,265,111. That should help to explain why Canton and Cleveland have much more robust scenes. New York and L.A. have populations of millions. That’s why most major labels are located there and most serious bands move to one of those cities when they really want to have a career.
Low population also means that we’re lacking a few things bigger cities enjoy. We have very few venues friendly to local original artists. We have no independent record store. We have one bookstore and one Walmart. We don’t even have a Hot Topic anymore. Compare that with Canton where there are three Walmarts and several independent music stores. In an area this small the best bet for bars to make money is to hire cover bands.
I don’t expect too many people to agree with me. This plan requires both hard work and patience. Those are two things in short supply these days. But was anything worthwhile ever built without both of them?
I’ve heard my ‘talking shit’ blog is the reason there’s no scene. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. I’m giving the scene publicity it’s not going to get anywhere else, especially now that Buzzbin Magazine is gone. There’s no such thing as bad press so even if I say your band sucks I’ve created interest. Now that I’m linking to bands’ facebook pages I like to think I’m making it easy to check out the local groups that I love (or hate). I noticed a hole in the market so I sought to fill it. Nobody was out there trying to build a community so I figured I would give it a try. I feel more accomplished as a blogger than I ever did as a musician. I’ve had 2800+ hits and people from Australia, South Korea, Hungary, Lebanon and Canada are checking out what I have to say. That never happened with any band I was in.
As always, feel free to argue, criticize, swear or otherwise keep the conversation going. I realize that there may be a few points I overlooked or other opinions on the subject. One of the benefits of writing a blog is the immediate interaction that can take place in the comment section below. All you have to do is enter a name and email. They don’t even have to be your own! I’d love to hear from you.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy “Why I’d Make A Horrible Talent Scout.”
UPDATE: JUNE 23, 2013
Tonight I witnessed a prime example of why there is not scene in this area when Mobile Deathcamp, one of the premier thrash metal acts in the country, played to a crowd of about a dozen or so people at Sadie Rene’s in North Canton. It saddened me to see this great band playing while someone swept up the floor, but they soldiered on and played a killer set. I can’t help but be embarrassed to be representing a community that treats such an awesome group this way. Sure, people have to get up for work on Monday – but we stayed till after the last song and still left before midnight.
From what I can see the problem may be that people have loyalty to bands but no loyalty to a scene. With that kind of mindset, we’re never going to get anywhere.