Friday, May 10, 2013

5 Ways to Support Local Artists FROM YOUR COUCH!

This is me seated on a couch... ballin!
I know you.  You’re like me.  You want to be involved.  You want to be part of what breathes vitality into our little music and arts scene.  But you’re busy.  You work; you have a wife and kids—responsibilities.  And plus you have a pretty demanding television schedule, and those facebook updates won’t check themselves.

Being a scenester has always been a contact sport.  You have to get out there, rub shoulders with the stakeholders and be in the places that count to be part of the living tissue of a thriving scene.  And the music and arts scene here in St. Louis is constantly growing and changing, so much so that it can be hard to keep up the old fashioned way.  But, in an age of ever-increasing connectivity, keeping informed, staying involved, and supporting local artists is a little bit easier.  Here’s a few ways you can bring the scene to you and show the people creating cool stuff in this city that you get it and you give a damn.

1.       Like

I know you have a facebook profile.  So have you liked your favorite local act’s page yet?  Facebook is one of the quickest and easiest ways to maintain a web presence that connects their content to the public, so they almost certainly have page.  Just type in the name of the band and go for it.  If the name is common, you may have to sift through some unrelated pages and profiles to find what you’re looking for.  But we’re talking 20-40 seconds of work here.  Small price.

The little bit of trouble you go to in order to find the artist is a big boon to their brand.  You’re helping to connect them to others who wouldn’t be privy to their work.  Now that facebook likes are being seen with some legitimacy, more likes can result in gigs at some of the city’s best venues.  And by seeing their updates and posts, you’re able to keep up to date on events, releases, and news. 
 So try it.  Log on to facebook right now and search for LBJ.  I’ll wait here…Found it?  Okay, click like!  Voila!  And merci.

2.       Share

Okay, we’re still on facebook.  We’ve liked someone’s page.  We’ve thrown in our lot with the throng of friends, family, and fans who’ve decided to support this artist.  Job done.

Not quite.  You see, when you like something, you tell someone about it.  Facebook has a tab for that.  Enter “share.”  By sharing something on your page, you are essentially saying to anyone paying attention, “I endorse this.  You should look into it.”  People commonly share memes they found on google images.  So share a photograph from your favorite group’s latest show while you’re at it.  And when you’re done posting video montages of cute kittens, share that video your favorite guitarist just posted that has 100 views.  Be part of the momentum that brings it to 200, then 500, then 1000.

3.       Subscribe

Most of us are subscribed to someone’s youtube channel, be it our third cousin or some anonymous content provider half a world away.  So if your favorite local act has a youtube channel where they post videos of concerts, intimate living room performances, silly commentaries or whatever, do them a solid and subscribe.  It’s no skin off your nose and it just looks good for them.  Seems like not much of anything, but the number of youtube subscribers an artist has can be another metric artists can use to ramp up their bargaining power with venues or perhaps even record execs if their bent is on getting signed (granted, we’re talking a LOT of subscribers at that point).  It’s yet another way of showing people, “I have an audience.  People give a damn about what I’m doing.”

4.       Listen

Have you ever been to reverbnation?  I was skeptical of it when I first joined (my profile), but now I’m pretty well sold on it.  Musicians, fans, venues and promoters create profiles, explore, upload content, and talk to one another.  It’s a good way to experience all kinds of new music that’s being created right in your back yard by artists of all stripes and levels.  Before I met my friend, Tony Compton, I listened to his music on reverbnation.  The Leads are no longer together, but I still listen to their music on reverbnation.  A singer songwriter calling himself Platinumghost 3000 blessed the stage at my last open mic after listening to my music on revernation.  It’s a great site to discover, listen to and keep up with local artists.

That’s not all.  In the event that your favorite act isn’t on reverbnation, they probably have music on soundcloud or bandcamp, both platforms with their own merits.  The point is, there is some place you can go to listen, and you should.  The first three points kind of don’t matter that much if you don’t listen.  I mean, it’s nice to have your support with a click and a share here and there.  But, can you be a fan if you don’t listen?  So, LISTEN!

5.       Download

The ultimate test of fanhood is the dollar test.  Beyond posting tracks for the listening public, there are plenty of online platforms artists use to sell their music.  Reverbnation, Bandcamp, and CD Baby are just a few.  There are even packages offered through CD Baby and other companies that put indie music on iTunes.  You can search the iTunes store for my friends The Psychedelic Psychonauts right now.  Go on, I’ll wait.  And come June, the same will be true for my upcoming EP, “Guitar Machine” (release date pending).

But you don’t have to spend your hard earned cash in this tough economy, although I’d love you to buy me something pretty, because most of us just want to be in your collection one way or another.  Just as you’ll see many local artists giving out free demos at their shows, they’re also giving out free downloads on their websites.  And once again, when you download, the artist benefits, even if not monetarily.  Websites keep careful track of these metrics, and lots of downloads looks good on the old musician resume.  So take advantage of freebees!

So you might not have time or energy or the disposable income to catch a lot of shows.  You may not be able to do late nights at Mangia or Stag Nights at the Blank Space.  But whatever you can do goes a really long way.  The click of a mouse shows you’re engaged.  A quick share and brief comment show it matters to you.  Whether you can spend a buck on it or not, you’re listening.  You give a damn.  And that’s what keeps this thing growing.

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