(Note: This is an editorial piece that is entirely the opinion of Jason Koerner, and is not the opinion of Louisville Music News.)
It seems that the one thing that unites this scene is its drama.
We all love a good debate, and the music scene is full of them. The best part of it all is that we live in America and can voice those opinions to each other.
Enter the burden of freedom.
You need only one thing to keep up with the drama in this town, and that is an Internet connection. This is your one-way ticket to frustration. Here you will find someone who hates someone else in every single category: bands, writers, promoters, disc jockeys, venue owners, etc. Not one stone is left unturned in the game of mudslinging. This sanctuary we call our computer provides a place to vent for those who are afraid, ashamed, embarrassed or otherwise too timid to voice their exaggerated feelings (on subjects they know little about) face-to-face with the individual/group being slandered.
This is a common occurrence on the message boards, especially when it comes to band-bashing and rumor-mongering, but one thread in particular has caught my attention more than any recently. Why? It was about Louisville Music News, its staff, and the inadequacies of our publication. Of course, I was one of the targets, so I took direct offense. The series of posts appeared on the Initial Records message board under the title, "Oops, I was SO wrong." (You can find it atwww.initialrecords.com/label/board, but you may have to go back a couple pages.) It alerted me to the extreme division that we have in this music scene. On one side you have musicians who are trying to be successful at what they do by performing, networking and seeking publicity. On the other hand, you have members of the "I'm too cool for that" club who would rather spend their time complaining about how no one covers "their" bands, only to turn around and bash the very publication they are whining about suffering from a lack of coverage in. A constant stream of contradictions, negative attitudes, and groundless hostility are what I found in this thread.
I compare it to the scenario in which a little boy finally gets up the nerve to ask a girl out, and then when she rejects him, he claims he was just kidding and he didn't want to go out with her anyway. He will then make up stories to his friends to protect his precious ego.
Throughout all the whining and complaining that bands from the punk/hardcore scene never get coverage in LMN, I have never once received a press pack, email, CD, note in a bottle, carrier pigeon, or anything else from any of these bands. Yes, one part of journalism is seeking out the news, and I do that. Think back to a few issues ago when I covered the opening of a new venue in town, Expo Five. I was there before anyone else with the story.
Then, there lies the issue of print quality. Did it ever occur to anyone that the newspaper is FREE? Now, maybe I need to explain this to you in a little more detail: the paper is free to those who read it, not to those who make it. The cost is very high to make a newspaper. That's why everyone in the world doesn't have one. Oh yeah, they take a lot of time and effort to do too, but you wouldn't believe me if I told you that, would you?
There are too many reasons to list when it comes to taking the position of why NOT to do a newspaper like this one, but only ONE reason TO DO it. The reason is the LOVE of MUSIC.
It is the same thing that drives a band to continually fork out thousands of dollars they don't have to fund a CD project or make merchandise so they can spread their name.
Everyone on the LMN staff, from the top down, LOVES music. That is the understatement of the year. To see someone bash what you put your heart into hurts. It is enough to make some people stop what they are doing. Not me. Not LMN.
Everyone on that thread preaches about how we are not "in" with the full understanding of the punk/hardcore scene, yet they want to maintain that elitist attitude and position. If you would rather act like you are better than everyone who is not like you is, so be it. That is a little biased if you ask me. Whatever the case may be, I do not have the time or the patience to try to appease you.
I am sure this will cause another surge of LMN bashing on the boards, but that is not my concern. My concern is to address the way I feel about it. I think that this paper does a great job of exposing bands to the masses that deserve it. If you want to exclude yourself from LMN, that is your choice. Don't read it. Don't submit anything to us. Hmmm... It's kind of strange that you hate the paper so much but read it anyway. It must not be that bad after all.
So here it is, I am tired of trying to be nice and politically correct. To all those people who bashed Louisville Music News and myself: screw you, too.
[It's mostly children, J. Try not to be too hard on them, as they know not what they do. Besides, like that guy with the gun in Washington, they're just looking for a little . . . reaction - Ed.]
Moving on, there is more drama to be found in the world of venues. Expo Five supporters and Tek World supporters have been going at it like Celebrity Deathmatch. Rumors, allegations, phone calls "caught on tape" and other Jerry Springer buzzwords can be used to describe some of the fighting going on. Here's the bottom line: Tek World has a policy in place that a band cannot play a show 10-14 days within the period before opening on a bill with a national act there. This policy has not been enforced in every situation, and now people are upset because of the inconsistency. It also seems that this rule is being more strictly enforced since the opening of Expo Five, Tek World's closest competitor. Some bands have had conflicts with this because it hampers their ability to book their own shows freely. It is my personal opinion that no one outside of your band should be able to tell you what to do when it comes to your band. You are promoting and working for your band, not the venue. The venue can use their discretion when seeking out bands to fill a lineup, but after the lineup is set, bands should not be asked to cancel shows elsewhere or be given any type of grief over doing shows too closely together. Like it or not, competition is out there. All bands are in competition with one another. All toilet paper brands are in competition with one another. Venues are no different. However, the way you do business is what makes a difference.
Bands should try to be fair to the venues by spacing out their shows when possible and promoting each show they do as heavily as the other ones. Bands can also be fair to other bands by not trash-talking them to try and make themselves look better, paying all bands equally on their bill (unless you are giving an out-of-town band more money for gas) and working together to help everyone succeed. Trading shows, places to stay and ideas can be your most useful tools.
Venues should try to be fair to the bands by not telling them what to do outside of their venue. Bands are not employees of any one venue, but they are independent artists. They rely on their venues for support, but that works both ways for the venues. Consistency and fairness should be of the utmost importance. It is business, nothing personal, right? Let's keep it that way.
Stay tuned to your local message boards for next month's episode of Drama 502.
Send me your drama at JJKSLACKER@cs.com.