What does a healthy music scene look like?
As a host of a local music radio program and as the emcee of a music night at Trees Coffee House I hear from a lot of musicians who are frustrated with Vancouver's music scene. They cite many issues that leave the ability to make a success of their music quite challenging. Much less often do I hear from people who are actively working to make the solutions that will help themselves make a career in the city. But, it sure is refreshing when I do.
It is up to musicians, promoters, fans and venues to create their own healthy vibrant music scene as it will not materialize without any involvement. For those of us who are inclined to create the change we want to see, this series of articles outlines a vision of how a healthy Vancouver music scene can work.
Part 2 - The Door of Perception
No matter what the reality, it is only the perception of what kind of scene we have that makes a difference in our live music life. I believe we create our lives through how we choose to see. If you expect to find a bad deal somewhere, you will, and if you wish to find something exciting, you will. It's easy. Especially in a medium so closely tied to human energy, at the end of the day you're going to receive what you were looking for.
If one hundred people go to a music location wanting to have fun and the performer is no fun, the performer will not have fun and the people will. And because the performer is not there with them in energy, they will likely have their fun by talking over the music or going somewhere else.
However, if one hundred people go to a location wanting to feel sorry for themselves and the performer is fun. There's a chance they might have fun. The performer has a stage and chance to reach everyone and so alchemy may occur. That's the magic of music.
I cringe when I listen to or read from musicians, bloggers and journalists putting the Vancouver music scene down. They are affecting others with these cancerous views and closing doors for both themselves as well as every other listener. It was especially disappointing to have come across a piece published in the Georgia Straight that tore apart a touring band coming into Vancouver as well as every other musician he deemed as the 'typical' type.
This kind of thing -- even when done as a joke --hurts the music scene as well. It's more than likely that the hard working band, Paper Lions, returns from Vancouver with quite a devestated perception of the Vancouver music experience after the totally uncalled for public shaming the article has given them. Energy is like fire, it transforms the space wherever it goes. Statements make an impact on the way thing become, and so it probably became. The Straight must have been responding to reader and advertiser pressure when they published this article with a different writer covering the same subject in a professional manner in their most recent issue.
It is my hope that those people who don't have anything good to say about the music scene can give the rest of us a break and not say anything at all. Many are here to make things better and if people want something good to happen, those are the only voices we need.
The truth is that we've got a beautiful and thriving metropolis with plenty of venues to explore and many things that can be done to make it more musical. If you're a performer without places to play, instead of complaining, try looking for places to play. If you're a fan who wants to have more music in your community go to a public space without live music, contact the manager or owner, and suggest they have live music. If you have any dreams at all of playing or hearing a lot of shows, please don't let it stop there but make an effort because an effort will increase your chances at reaching your dreams 100%.
On the entrepreneurial side, if you're a venue holder or space holder who likes music but thinks money can't be made, it won't be. But if you think it can and use your energy to realize that idea, it will. I challenge us all to look at the perceptions that are holding us down and find the simple solution we're avoiding. We all like food and drink, and we all like music. So what's the problem?
Of course I have challenges in perceptions as well, and it's tough. On the psychological level, there's bound to be something that goes deeper than the simple actions. It's a kind of lifestyle to look at things a certain way, and so you'll be challenged to move out of your negative house and live in a house that says 'yes'.
A lifestyle is a scary and tricky thing to change. However, the definition of an idiot is someone who goes on doing the same thing over and over again and expects the results to be different. Like a mirror, what you see coming back at you reflects what you put out.
With the right energy we can turn Vancouver from 'no fun city' into Canada's # 1 music destination. The infrastructure of venues and population is there and so with a collective effort we can certainly make this scene happen in a big way.
So, rather than waiting for someone else to discover the potential and define it for us, like is done in some cheap television shows like 'Canada's Got Talent' and 'So You Think You Can Dance', why don't we self-discover and make this music scene our own. That want I want to do. It's so much more fun to create a culture than to receive one.