Sooner or later, it's going to happen: our little local music scene that we know and love so dearly will disperse and die out. Coping with this is not easy, but with the right attitude, there are a few ways to get past the loss of a scene you've enjoyed and been a part of. Here's how to keep the music alive during times of transition.
1. Encourage young locals to step up and fill the empty shoes
Let's say things aren't really that bad yet, and it's just a simple case of older bands moving on from band life into the uncharted waters many refer to as "adulthood." This is the easy one. The answer is simply for the young bucks to step up and fill the shoes of the bands that have called it quits. The generational overlap can be a little sticky now and then, but if your scene is really worth saving, you'll be dealing with the kinds of people who will be stoked on the momentum these eager young bands will bring to the table.
2. Find a cool new performance space
A crisis in property can be just as detrimental to a scene's livelihood as a loss of talent. If bands don't have anywhere to play, your scene is going to hit rough times, and remedying this issue is no easy matter.
Before you start driving around getting all sweaty and discouraged, just start with some online research. Check out art galleries, community centers, social clubs – any facility that only uses their space part-time could be game to host your shows. And the further removed from other businesses they are, the better.
For the true DIY-ers, make those calls to your friends' houses, too. New garages, backyards, and basements will have to become the new punk havens in place of the old ones that have stepped down.
3. Go back to (or start) writing
Whether you're facing a lull in hype or the end of an era, take this time to write. Do what you can to keep the local scene alive, but at the same time, go with the flow. When the live urgency backs off, embrace the reclusive momentum to revamp your songwriting creativity while there's time to do it. Get yourself holed away in a soundproof space and get to work. This creative push may just take you to the next level, and get you ready to...
If you're ready, the setback of a crippled local scene might just be the push your band needs to get you all out of the nest. Disclaimer: don't waste your time on this point if you know you're not ready. There are few things worse than a band that shamelessly travels from town to town collecting money when they blatantly suck (but of course, you would never do such a thing).
That being said, if you're road ready and you can't play in your town, try playing in someone else's! The world is rich with scenes out there that have seen their favorite locals over and over again, and the ball is now in your court to deliver your finely tuned sound as the breath of fresh air that that random town a few hours away needs to experience.
This is for those dire circumstances where more extreme measures must be taken. As a rule of thumb, definitely don't rush to this step if you're never toured before. But if your scene has truly died and you're trying to take your musical project to the next level, you might consider relocating.
There are so many incredible music cities in the world to experience: Boston, Berlin, New York, London, Seattle, and so many more. Talk to your crew and see if you guys want to make a move. Just like the previous point, don't force something that isn't there. Go with the flow, but if this seems like the push you've been waiting for to get to the next level, don't let the opportunity go to waste.
When a scene bites the dust, it can often feel like the end of the world. Your friends, your art, your whole community can suddenly fall apart overnight without explanation. But the most important thing to remember is not to give up on music or the ideals that gave you all so much joy when your scene was thriving.
Remember, every scene dies eventually. The biggest, strongest, most culturally relevant movements of all time all had their members get old and move on to something else. Don't lose faith in music just because one era has come to a close – another will open up, and the cycle will continue.
Max Monahan is a bassist and a writer living in Los Angeles. He spends his time working for an audio licensing website and shredding sweet bass riffs.