This is the rallying cry of the guy playing at the bar down the street. The sticker is on his car. He wears the t-shirt.
And he's gonna get pissed if you tell him you'd rather see a major label act with 10,000 other people than hit a local club where his band is playing...
But it's not because what you want to see isn't local. It's because what he really means by "support local music" is "support my music." This becomes obvious when you find out he's almost never at local shows, because he's always "rehearsing."
This guy doesn't get it. People don't buy music because it's local and they absolutely don't buy music because you want them to.
Think about it. Do you know where your favorite acts are from?
Maybe. Like you know Price is from Minneapolis, John Mellencamp is from Indiana, and Dolly Parton is from rural Tennessee... However, it's doubtful that you know anything about the scene these acts came out of of what their involvement with it was.
Why? Because, in the music business, where you're from doesn't matter. The reason people go to see an act has nothing to do with where it's from. "Good" is the only thing that matters. The reason acts go from local to national is because they put on a show that makes people feel good.
If you're a "local" act, people aren't going to come and see you simply because you share the same area code. Sure, it's a start, because similarities in lifestyle and culture are great rapport builders, but you've got to back those things up with quality -- you have to keep them entertained and represent them well when entertaining other people.
If you think your local scene sucks, here are two ways to jumpstart it and make people care.
- Don't be like the guy in the "Support Local Music" shirt who expects other people to support him, but isn't willing to go out and support other people. You are the scene, so kick things off by getting out and supporting other acts.
The reason Seattle was so big 20 years ago is because people got out and went to shows. They bought t-shirts, music, and other merch. The reason Nashville is hot now is because musicians here have a sense of community and perform, write, and record with each other.
Most people are looking for a leader. When you care, they're more likely to care. This is because "caring" about anything is scary. Once you show it's safe to jump in, they'll feel better about jumping in themselves.
- You need to be good and you need to make people feel good. As I said in my book, Six-Figure Musician, you need to be so good that it can't be argued. Even if a person doesn't like your particular style of music, he'll respect the work you're putting into it and that counts a lot.
And while shared location and experiences are a great rapport and connection builder to kick things off, in the end, people don't care where something is from. When it comes to your music, the only thing that matters to the people hearing it is how it makes them feel.
What can you do to make your audience feel good and appreciated? What can you do to get things rolling yourself, instead of waiting for other people to start the job for you?
If you're willing to do whatever you ask of others and will recognize the needs of your audience, it is inevitable that you will create the scene you're looking for.