Chasing Ghosts- “The Scene” and You.

[Originally blogged 3/18/09]

So there’s been a huge thread on an industrial forum regarding the decline and impending death of the industrial scene as we know it.  It’s basically the typical “downloading sucks, there’s too many bands out there, and we all need to work together to SAVE THE SCENE.”

You know what?  Fuck The Scene.

The scene isn’t real.  The “scene” is a bunch of people who kinda sorta know each other, kinda sorta listen to a lot of similar music, kinda sorta shop at Hot Topic (and you know you do, so shut up.), and kinda sorta end up at the same club nights.  I fondly refer to it sometimes as “teh sceen” simply because I don’t like writing that sentence over and over again, but it’s the truth.

So there’s really no “scene” to save.  What should you ACTUALLY do, in my humble preachy opinion?  Support music YOU LIKE and tell people about that music.  Buy THAT music.  Don’t blanket accept or support something just because people who aren’t pulling the profits they wish they were think you have to or because some promoter of a club night can’t get the numbers they want due to scene bullshit or not being good enough to get people out.  Believe me, I’ve booked tons of shows, promoted a night and club for nearly a decade and been on both sides of the fence.  I know.  I’ve got the battle scars and debt to prove it.

The scene isn’t an organization– it’s at best a group of people with some common interests, sure, but it’s not in any way a dues paying entity where it OWES you anything or you owe IT anything.   And if ALL you care about is “the scene”, then you’re missing out on a ton of awesome music and culture elsewhere.

So, again, fuck the irrelevant, imaginary thing called “The Scene”.

Labels are going to die, in EVERY genre.  Many because of downloading and people having little respect for the time and money that goes into putting music out, but more so because of their inability to sign bands that inspire enough people to buy their CDs and a greater inability to promote it correctly.  So, in other words, bad business.  If they aren’t looking at their bottom line realistically, and that means not looking at it like they may have 10 years ago or even TWO years ago…yeah, they’re fucked.  Also because they aren’t smart enough to adapt to the times and understand that shit’s lean right now– there’s not as much money coming in and probably won’t ever be again.

Too bad, so sad.  Businesses die every day though.  It’s why everyone doesn’t get rich and some people do better than others.  Get over it.

Same with bands.  Stop whining, you massive bunch of pussies.  Yes, it sucks that your album is up for everyone to download, and you can say “I WOULD’VE SOLD A MILLION COPIES IF THERE WASN’T ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING!!!”

No.  No you wouldn’t have.  You would have sold about what you sold.  Just because 50,000 people downloaded your CD doesn’t mean they would have paid to own it.  Hopefully a nice-sized fraction of those people will be honorable and buy it if they like it, but your hypothetical sales are just that– hypothetical.  It’s not real and there’s no way you could ever determine actual sales lost just because the counter on some illegal torrenting site says 74 million people checked out your music.  I flip through the channels on TV but don’t watch every program all the way, y’know?

Here’s another little bit of wisdom– downloading evened the playing field, and the music industry’s golden goose was shot, gang raped, cooked, gang raped again, and then left on the RIAA’s front lawn picked clean.  While this unfortunately means I’m probably out some nice money it also means I’ve gotten better at promoting my music and the labels I work with.  Let’s face it– the music industry was able to get away with overcharging fans, overpaying artists, and lining their pockets with ridiculous sums of money because The People had no way of really checking music out in mass quantities like they have since Napster.   It’s not money for nothing any more, assholes.  It’s time to fucking dig in, work, and show fans why they should support YOU and YOUR ARTISTS in the cacophonous din of a million shitbag artists (many of which wouldn’t understand “paying dues” past “I signed up for a MySpace account”).

In other words, they have to get smarter.  Trent Reznor did, but he’s well off and has the capital to say fuck the recording industry.  People like myself just need to stop bitching, actually WORK to get some recognition, and hope we’re lucky enough to be at the right place in the right time to have some new people latch onto our sound and enjoy it.

There’s a million bands more talented than Caustic or Combichrist or Black Sabbath or motherfucking Fallout Boy, but the difference is WE ALL ARE PUTTING IN THE TIME.  There’s an immense amount of determination, perseverance, stamina, and just balls-to-the-wall WORK going on.  It’s sacrifice.  Does that mean if you put in lots of time and effort you’ll get “huge”?  No.   But that’s where luck comes in.

And as a quick aside– some people just like making the music they like, aren’t interested in doing much more than setting up a vampirefreaks page and letting the people find them.  Know what?  Awesome!  Seriously.  I know I can be hard on people who aren’t pushing themselves but my overexuberance sometimes overshadows my simple love of this stuff on whatever level you want to put it out.  I’m just being a confrontational dick, in other words.  If that’s all you want and don’t want or give a shit to move “higher up the food chain,” then more power to you.  You’ll be saving yourself a lot of aggravation, self-doubt, financial pain, and probably have a LOT better life than dipshits like me who spend a lot of time trying to “succeed” (yet still work 2 jobs:)).

However, if you’re one of those artists who can’t POSSIBLY COMPREHEND why the world hasn’t opened its legs for your massive talent to dive into its great, loving vagina of fame and profit yet…well get a fucking clue.  Stay home and work on your art and stop bitching like a little kid who isn’t tall enough to get on the rollercoaster yet.  Earn something, and if you still fail at least you gave it your best.  Life is pain, princess, but at least you hopefully had some laughs and made some friends.

As for the scene though– the scene can hang out with Santa and the Easter Bunny.  I’ll be on tour working for my CD and digital sales and meeting fans, as will a lot of other dedicated bands.

So join in on the fun or get out of the way.  Some of us have work to do.


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