I Love You Austin, But You’re Bringing Us Down


Read it. Tell me I’m a jerkstore.

This is a topic I’ve been discussing with friends, bands and those outside the realms of Austin for quite some time, and while I’ve avoided a proposal to the masses, I just don’t want to sit behind my computer anymore, letting the problem persist. Austin, I’m sorry to say it, but our music scene is struggling.

Now, I realize this brief expose may come across as a condemnation of sorts, but I don’t want it to be a criticism, so much as a call to arms. I’ve been a part of the Austin music scene, in some manner or another, since the mid-90s (I realize this might be a few years too late); my hope is that in writing this, someone, somewhere will see the potential in Austin, thus bringing our music scene back to where we’ve claimed it to be.

Again, this is not a proposal of hate; it’s merely a dream of a man who sees the town he loves in the death throes of everything he grew to expect.

First, we must discuss the “Live Music Capital of the World” moniker.  I’m sorry to say, but Austin no longer deserves such a title.  Sure, my buddy gets to play Dave Matthews covers at Dizzy Rooster, but that’s not the spirit of the name.  Yes, I’ve seen tons of incredible acts grace the various stages in Austin, but few of those acts actually found their sound in our fair city.  We’ve lived on this title for far too long, and in doing so, we’ve grown lazy and entitled, expecting the best acts in the world to come to our town…and they do.  But, in doing so, we’ve neglected our own brethren; we’ve chosen to endorse travelling acts, rather than support our own.  A music community cannot exist without the support of those involved.

Now, many will say that there are several acts that have been able to rise to stardom from our town.  Spoon? Well, Britt doesn’t live here anymore, and as the main songwriter, that makes that null-and-void.  Okkervill River? Will spends the majority of his time in NYC, so again, we can’t stake claim to that.  There are a few others that have garnered national attention, but even those acts have struggled to move beyond the confines of our city.  Where have we gone wrong my friends? We’ve chosen to neglect our own, instead choosing to embrace those who come to our city. If we don’t have our own foundation, we’re going to see things fall apart.

Where have we gone wrong?

For one, bands in Austin, give or take a handful of hardworking folks, struggle to carve out an existence for themselves.  Many, and I know many, work at restaurants or coffee shops, hoping to save up enough money just to record a singular song. Austinites, for the most part, don’t buy merch, from touring acts, and especially not local acts.  Therefore, many acts cannot afford to exist on the cusp of popularity in Austin, treading water until eventually they have to turn to other options.  As a fan of your local musician, you’ve got to buy t-shirts or LPs, or perhaps just give them $3 from your wallet.  It might not go a long way, but it’s a start.  And yes, I know we’re in a recession, but I just saw you buy Dewar’s on the rocks, so you can save that last drink you probably don’t need, and offer it to the band.

Another act we’ve neglected, the good times Austin can offer.  I was fortunate to grow up during the hey-day of Liberty Lunch or Voodoo Lounge, but the most special times for me revolved around the ridiculous events that went down at house parties.  I remember seeing Skate or Die at the Duck Pond by my house.  You’ve never heard of them, nor their hit single “Hormigas en el Parque,” but members of that band went on to be part of the Sword and Octopus Project.  Or house parties where Recover played, and all the local cognoscenti showed up to support them.  We were alive, and so was the city.  It made our local shows a gathering of friends, which brings up another sad point.

Why don’t you all go see local bands? Whether or not they’re opening for the next big thing, or they’re throwing an album release at Beerland, why aren’t you there? My biggest Austin complaint is that music lovers don’t seem to love music.  You’ll go catch the biggest thing according to Pitchfork, and I’m there too, but when the opener begins, there are four people there.  That opener, more often than not, is an Austin band getting their big break, and we forgot about them; we only want to see the headliner.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t do the band, nor the promoter, justice.  The promoter sees the band doesn’t have a draw, so they don’t book them again.  Headliners see the same thing, thus they don’t want to play with that act again.  Thus the Austin scene stagnates.  The same 10 bands open, and no one new gets a break.  I get that Uchiko has a great happy hour, but skip it, see your new favorite local band.

If you’re asking why any of this really matters, then perhaps I’m not entirely clear on the subject at hand.  Austin brings in great bands, true, but we’re not lifting up our own bands to the same level of greatness.  You look at cities like Brooklyn or San Francisco, and they’re band are doing extremely well. They’ve got great hype, they can tour behind that, and they can make a living. The sad truth for Austin bands is that they cannot.  True, a few bands have branched out and toured on their own dollar, only to come back broke or barely above breaking even.  Some bands, and this is true fact, have had to move away from Austin in order to eek out a living as musicians.  This shouldn’t be the case. Our bands should be our priority.  In order for the exodus to cease, we’ve got to correct a few things.

1) Buy stuff. Seems simple, right? But, bands make their livings off merch.  They record with that extra two dollars you spend on pizza.  It might seem silly, but next time your drunk friend begs for a beer, give it to the band instead. They’ll appreciate it a great deal more than your friend who’s going to drunk dial you at 5 in the morning.

2) Go support local acts.  Seems simple, but even if you’ve never heard of the bands, go support your local venues and local bands.  I suggest places like Holy Mountain, Cheer-Up Charlies, Scoot Inn, Mohawk, Beerland, Hotel Vegas or the Owl.  All those place definitely want to make Austin what it should be.

3) Don’t get mad, fix it.  You hate what I have to say? I’m okay with that.  Go start a blog or something to become involved. Throw a house party; we’ll spread the word. Austin grew its music scene on the DIY spirit, and we’ve got to get back to that.  Meet the bands and throw a show.  Most bands will play for beer, as long you promise to get people to hear their music. There’s nothing wrong with that.

4) Read up on the locals.  You want news on the local scene, no better place than your devoted slew of local Austin blogs: AustinTownHall, OVRLD, PopPressInternational, Ultra8201, Austin Bloggy Limits, SideOneTrackOne, RepublicofAustin.  We all are friends, and our goal is to make your lives easier by helping share our insider trading info, hoping you’ll show up.  We care about music, and we care about Austin. That’s our bottom line, and we hope it’s yours too.

In conclusion, this is probably not the post I intended it to be.  But, I wanted to make it filled with less hate than how I occasionally admit to feeling.  I’m not mad at Austin, or those who love music here, I just want better.  I want better for our friends, our bands, our venues and those that want to see a great show.  I want the best for you, and I want the best for me; I know we can do better.


  • This article blew me away – I’ve lived here (off and on) for 11 years, and in the earlier years…the scene on 6th was amazing. There was a real artist COMMUNITY – they supported each other, played shows with each other, came out to watch even if they weren’t playing…and PEOPLE listened. I can’t even beg my friends these days to go see a band/artist they haven’t heard of. It’s a sad state.

    I do feel like there are local artists who still draw – Shakey Graves, Wild Child, White Ghost Shivers, Whisky Shivers…and they’re all pretty great, but I doubt they’re making a LIVING doing it (at least, not just yet).

    And there’s your Rocketboys, and Quiet Company…they draw decently as well.

    But then there’s the smaller acts. Ryan White, Jason Poe, James Bullard, Lex Land…people whose music begs to be listened to and loved…(they’re all amazingly talented within their genres)…who don’t draw like they should. Part of it is the venues, I think. I feel like there aren’t enough venues in town where it’s conducive to LISTENING to music. The new Listening Room at the Winflo Osteria is pretty sweet, and maybe the Spiderhouse Ballroom… but the bars that were once so awesome on 6th just don’t draw at all anymore.

    …where are people playing? And…where are people LISTENING?

  • obviously its a polarizing subject, and there isn’t a clear answer to what you think is an issue with the Austin music scene. I think that the issue reaches beyond our fair city and is one of an industry concern. Whatever market the artist decides to call home, there are going to be challenges, and maybe more so than usual here in Austin. Calling to arms, and insisting that consumers change their habits is a deaf move. Learning to make changes and adjust to whatever audience is listening is a quality that few bands have. I’m not suggesting that bands compromise their artistic integrity, just work a bit harder at their craft. It’s 2013 and if you are an artist, the game is tough, it’s complicated, and you have to do more that just write songs, record songs, and play live shows at mediocre clubs. You have to be your own business, and run it as a business.

  • Hello friends, I haven’t seen some of you in a long time. Please accept what I have to say with a sense of lightness and humor… What a bunch of braggarts you all are, just listen to yourselves! 😉 You can’t stop name-dropping obscure/famous bands and clubs for “cred” even in a thread about what’s wrong with the “scene”! Examine your own language for the answer to your question about what’s wrong with it.

    Your prioritie$ are $crewed up. You a$$ociate $ucce$$ with $tardom, and with $elling merchandi$e, e$pousing the $ame materiali$tic value$ which, to me, the best artists and musicians have always eschewed.

    The “show” is a commodity, sold by promoters and venues. The “album” is a commodity, sold by labels. However, this has not always been the case. Performance was, traditionally, a participatory expression of the shared imagination of communities, whether celebratory or critical. Recorded music as commodity began very recently in history, with sheet music. In former times–that is, all of human history up to about the 19th century–songs were transmitted orally, and contained stories and imagery that resonated with the culture. Later, folk music was confiscated by the courts of nobility for their own amusement (Baroque music), and thus began the system of patronage and the rise of the superstar.

    Now “musician” has become a *profession* of technical specialization demanding monetary compensation. Music is classified by niche, “genre”, which is an artifact of consumption, and which requires a coterie of other technical experts (i.e., recording engineers, promoters, critics, etc.) to “get your music out there.” Out where? To “the world”–and assumption of globalism. Again, this valuation is based on quantity (i.e., number of fans) rather than *quality* (of experience, truth, beauty, wisdom, etc.).

    If you ask musicians why they play, they generally say to “express themselves” (or some variation) and pretend to not care about “fame and fortune”, but then complain when their shows are sparsely attended. That’s because they are looking at a ledger with their rehearsal room rental, equipment and travel expenses, requisite alcohol and drug habits, etc., and they see that they are losing money, thus falling into the trap of the materialist worldview–one can hardly blame them, because it is practically impossible to disentangle oneself from the chains of usury. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try to do so, to whatever extent is possible, in order to be free of these distortions.

    Music at its best is an expression of the values of culture, or of the dissonance between the values of people and those promulgated by the institutions of (industrial) civilization. At its best, music is shared, participatory, not an exhibition of ego. Yet, we are trapped by an artificial society of narcissism, celebrity worship, and a false meritocracy which is based more on manipulation (i.e., social finesse) than talent.

    I make music because it is my calling. I do it every day, whether alone or in a room with other musicians, practicing or performing, but it’s always *play*, not work–play not necessarily in the sense of fun, because oftentimes, as you all surely know, creativity is painful and frustrating. Still, it is play because it is a way to commune with the lifeworld, as opposed to bottling it up for sale. I work at my job (most of the “$ucce$$ful” musicians you cited also have day jobs…). I *play* music. This is a crucial distinction. Obviously it is more fun to play for an audience, and I can appreciate the fact that if everyone who claimed to have moved to Austin for the culture actually participated in it, we could have a more lively music community. On the other hand, people are encouraged to consume more than create, or when they do create something it is confined by their preconceived notion of what is “good” which tends to be based on what can be $old.

    I never expected to make any money, to become famous, etc., but you all seem to take it for granted that money and fame are a measure of quality, when they are only a measure of successful marketing. The best artists, musicians, dancers, writers, actors, poets, and philosophers usually die unregarded, only to be discovered by later generations, or perhaps never.

    The clubs, promoters, labels, etc., with a few notable exceptions, are bu$ine$$e$ whose goal is to make money for themselves. Austin is called the “live music *CAPITAL*” because in Austin, live music is *capitalized* (commodified). Music exists in spite of these facts, indeed, in opposition to these institutions. We are perfectly capable of playing music in the middle of a field.

    Musicians and artists will always struggle, physically and emotionally as much as materially and financially, and they will rarely get the recognition they deserve (according to the inflated importance we place on recognition). Artists who produce *products* for consumption may or may not be rewarded by a system of consumption, but they will always shortchange themselves if they expect a reward for being themselves.

  • Yes, indeed Austin is too saturated. The biggest challenge as a band is to get people to actually follow your band and come to shows more than once. There are many good bands that just can’t get people who like them and hear them at one show to come to more shows because theres always something newer and exciting happening. Plus I feel like some of the clubs, like Mohawk, are hard as hell to contact let alone book a show at. Plus bands don’t want to help each other at all anymore because its so saturated as a band you almost have to be cutthroat about certain things.

  • First if you are a local musician you must absolutely understand that the local scene is oversaturated. Enter cautiously.

    The other issues you describe are a symptom of a particular generation and a particular demographic —They just don’t get it.

  • Totally. We put our heart and soul into creating a music venue only to be smashed by a couple of grumpy neighbors. Meanwhile we have 28 signatures from neighbors that support us having live music outside on the weekends
    …….. No help from city council. We give 100% of door to bands. + a bar percentage. We hired the best sound engineer in town.
    Sux. City is backwards and is typical good old boy system.

  • re: This on going Cheer Up Charlies brouhaha- get over it. I appreciate that you made an investment for a music venue and your surrounding neighbors except for a couple adore you, but the main person involved (whose name has now been published and dragged through the mud by dozens of 20 something year olds online, to the point of harassing him at his physical home — which he discussed at a local neighborhood meeting) has been living in his home since the 1980s. When CuC was Ms Beas, there was no issue. When CuC had bands inside, there was no issue. When CuC expanded, there was an issue.

    Flip the tables and see how much you’d enjoy a *loud* commercial business establishing itself essentially next door after 25+ years of living in your home. Would you be cool with a body shop (stripping cars, hammering dents, etc ) that opens at 7am next door to your long time residence? Because that’s essentially what you’re asking these folks to adjust to; Just because property was cheap enough to establish bars on E 6th in the past 5 or so years doesn’t mean you get to claim persecution when your location doesn’t work perfectly for your ideal business model.

    Finally, in general to the people who continue to struggle with the CuC situation: When they build a condo downtown and those people allegedly complain… do you then say “That’s what you get for building and buying a condo downtown where bars and live clubs are?” If you answered “yes” (and you damn well better have, because I know you all have this misconception* about condo owners), then you should be siding against CuC since they built a business in the midst of a residential neighborhood without thinking of the ramifications. You can’t have it both ways, sorry.

    * Condo owners downtown generally do not complain about noise downtown, it’s the old ANC that generally complains about noise in the Zilker/Enfield areas — talk to people who have plunked down $400k to live in a new downtown condo. They love being within walking distance of the noise, the bars, the music, etc. Plenty of those people wind up at Red 7, Mohawk, and Beerland on any given night– you just don’t know it, because they’re just like you and me and not advertising their address.

  • A few comments from a music fan – an active live music fan – who lived in New York City for 15 years and now in Austin for 4 years …

    * This ‘Live Music Capital …’ thing – it’s marketing. It’s useful positioning for the city. Don’t take it as reality, more of a hope.

    * The musical talent is Austin is awesome – on a par with NYC for sure. And like Austin, many musicians I know in NYC survive by their casual day job. And NYC does not have some magic wand for getting behind bands. Austin does more, through city programs and the like. So stop the gripes on that one, unless they are very specific ones.

    * Venues – even those that have invested by building a stage and putting in a decent sound system – could do a much better job in promoting their musical activities. Many do not have professional websites, or engage in social media. When they do, it’s a posting on FB on the day. Just not good enough, and simple to fix for most venues. It would bring them more business for sure.

    * Wholeheartedly agree on posting of set times. It shows a real lack of respect to customers not to do so. A while ago when I posted on the FB page for the Parish asking what the set times were, the post got deleted. I don’t go to there so much these days. When I do I often email the band and ask when they are on. Yep, musicians – post set times when you know them.

    * I would also like to see earlier shows during the week – Sunday to Thursday – 8pm to 11pm music slot – so I can get home and some sleep for my day job. Lots of people who are music fans in Austin have day jobs. Cater to the market.

    * Musical acts mostly need to do more to promote their gigs. Some do a good job, most lack the skill set or the work approach to do this. Simple things like email lists and social media use would help.

    * There are quite a lot of resources in Austin for musicians – groups like AMF and AMP and a number of good blogs. But I am surprised that there is no one central web resource that points to them all. Surely that’s not hard to set up?

    * AMF and AMP are not widely known of by musicians. They have very limited resources I know, but surely more can be done to promote them as good places for musicians and music fans to engage with one another, with venues, and with city activities. And for musical acts to get educated on topics such a promotion. All you blogs need to promote AMP and AMF, and so does local radio.

    So above are some proposals. I can help in making some of them happen. Let’s do this.

  • Anybody here going to the Hanson show in September? Wanna carpool?

  • i’m chiming in a day late, but figured i would anyway. i’m part of the corporate transmission machine here in austin, so wanted to say something to the few people (and i know it’s a minority) talking shit about us: “you can go fuck yourself.” we put 1000% into this scene, do it without asking for a thank you or a giant payday and we always have, because this is what we believe in and what we’ve always done and will continue to do. last year transmission booked about 650 shows in town and only a third of shows were touring shows (not to mention, 90% of those had local bands opening the bill). i was born and raised in this city and i’ve watched it grow and change. i’ve been going to shows since i was a kid, and actually working within the scene (booking, touring, release records, etc) since i was in high school. i never made money at it until i was in my 20s and even then (and still), just enough to get buy and pay the bills. so, my point is, long long before there were dozens competing venues of similar size, booking similar music to a fairly large music scene, there were many of us who had committed ourselves to building something more in this town and growing our scene. in a town that, at the time, had no all ages venues (except giant ones) and hardly any that gave a shit about bands or the scene at all, there were 1 or 2 decent spots and a mile of 6th street frat bars with stages in the corners. there was virtually NO red river scene (a few sprinkled spots that would open and close with diff names/mgmt: cavity, cave club, chances, etc) and east of the highway had not a hipster in sight. booking shows, getting booked, touring through town or even going to see a band on any given night was hard and sometimes downright impossible. that’s not to say there wasn’t a scene, or ppl that loved playing/seeing good music in town, it was just night and day compared to what it is now in size and scope. which brings me to my point: i think this article is great, in that in gets people talking and thinking about the local music scene and people don’t talk about it enough lately. nobody can say that it’s perfect and that we all do enough, as we could all go out more, play better, book more bands, etc and should. there are a lot of factors that go into it and it’s a very very grey area, though. i’ll point out a few things as a longtime promoter in town. i’m longwinded on this stuff, but figure i’ve earned and will take 15 mins away from counting my millions like Scrooge McDuck talk about it. read or don’t, but here are my thoughts after reading the article and the comments: for fans: -agree with the article, for the most part: we shouldn’t just go see touring bands or the bands we know already. if you want to see someone like that or only have the time or funds to do so, be sure and get there early and see the openers. get your money’s worth…they might be your new favorite act some day. i can’t think how many times i booked spoon, explosions, gamblers (not to mention countless touring acts) that are all huge now, but at one point played to nobody. it’s worth showing up early. what else are you going to do…play xbox until midnight and then catch Melvins right before they go on? -a flaw in the article is that everyone has a ton of extra cash to do this. for some, spending 6 or 7 bucks, plus drinks, parking, a band’s cd, etc can’t be done when bussing tables a few nights a week and then still get to go see their favorite touring band a week later. do what you can, but always go to free shows, is my suggestion. in addition to free week, lots of clubs have free-to-get-in nights, happy hour shows, etc. i think frontier bar was free to get in every night for awhile. if a band is playing for free or a bar coming out of pocket to make it free, at least show up and make it worth playing. -tell all your friends. help bands spread the word. everyone’s posting about the new daft punk, but i bet they’ll do ok when they finally tour on it….if you’re excited about a local band, let your friends know about their upcoming show and see if anyone wants to go with you. every person in that room counts. for bands: -1st off, stop blaming promoters/clubs, the scene, the fans, the touring bands, etc. that’s ridiculous. you honestly believe rosa or dan at transmission don’t think your pretty enough to play? man, what’s the label’s excuse for not putting out your record or the agent’s for not booking your tour? DO IT YOURSELF people. again, we didn’t have venues to play at growing up…we rented vfw halls, recreation centers, had shows in backyards, houses, art spaces, found weird clubs that would never have our kind of music there normally, but would let us set up a show one of their off nights (and yes, we old men and women lugged our gear in the snow, uphill both ways to and from the show with no shoes). just quit waiting for your “shot” and whining that it’s not here. almost any room in town, even the “good” venues, will give you an “off night” like a sun-tues if you bring a full bill to the table. if you have 3-4 bands and are committed to play and going to flyer and hopefully bring out their friends and fans, then few bars would choose to be closed rather than open with 30 or 40 ppl in there drinking, i promise. problem is, too few bands want to promote or do that side or it and some don’t know how to. living in a city with a big music scene makes that an easy trap to get stuck in for bands. look, i’m sure you’re great at songwriting, but that’s only half of it. i can tell you that i have a 100 records on my shelf of amazing bands that you’ve never heard of and never will, because they weren’t big or didn’t break through for whatever reason. that’s no excuse. so, below might make more sense to anyone asking: -flyer/promote. i’m sorry, but posting “come see Jacklyn Fartmonster and the Dubstepchildren tuesday at Bar X!” to your 61 facebook friends the night of the show doesn’t count. spend a little money (or steal, i don’t care) and make flyers to put up at waterloo, end of an ear, friends of sound, etc, as well as every coffee shop, 24 hour cafe or telephone pole. make handbills and hand them out at shows with like minded fans (if you’re band sounds like The National and they’re playing at that F1 track, stand outside the gates with your bandmates at midnight to tell 8000 people about your show). do a facebook ad. do instagram/twitter/vine/etc for your bands. just do more. -if you have a show, don’t book 3 more that week. wonder why only 12 of your band’s friends showed up? because the other 30 went to your other shows that week. nobody is going to go to every show, if you play all the time and no club wants bands that can’t get anyone out. i can guarantee you’re probably not THAT good, that you warrant mon, wed and sat attendance from your friends. then, when it comes time to bitch at the club for paying you little, remember, bands get paid off what the bring through the door. if you can’t do that, you can’t always blame the venue. -don’t suck. ok, this is a slippery slope, i guess, but it’s worth saying. sometimes when you don’t get booked, it might be due to lack of talent. that said, it loops back to the DIY argument. i was in some shitty punk bands growing up , but we loved playing and didn’t let whoever booked emos or the cavity or liberty lunch stop us. we just played wherever we could. that said, practice more, play more, get better and you’ll get more shows and draw more people. -depending on what you want out of this, i’d also suggest playing music because you love it FIRST and not because you think you’ll be famous or rich, but happen to like music. odds are slim to none that will happen and a crazy reason to be in a band past like 1975. it’s like playing the lottery, not winning and then getting on a blog to bitch about 7-11 for not selling you a winner. i can remember quite clearly tours where the band i was in played in living rooms or garages to 3 people, slept in the van or outside, stole food, stole gas, got held up, got to the next town, got home broke and in debt. you know why i can remember it so clearly? because they were some of best days of my life. we never made money, but we made memories and had a blast and while most kids at my high school were going to their first keggers, we were touring through NYC and up to Canada that summer. i hate to bring up the “art” argument, but it’s valid. make music because you love it, play it regardless if anyone gives you the easy opportunity to play. we’re lucky to live in a time where you can make a record on your computer that you’re going to self release online, set up your own record release party for it for it, make a poster for the show on the same computer, promote it mostly only and do so all in month or 2. it’s completely in the artist’s hands for once, so i don’t want to hear anything about not being given enough or anyone holding you back. clubs/promoters: now, i’m biased because i come from that world, but i’ve been the person on the other side too, so will try and speak to both: -respond. nothing is more frustrating to bands than reaching out to venues and nobody getting back to them. clubs, take the time to say “sorry, we’re all booked up right now, but we’ll keep you in mind for the future.”…some bands don’t even know if their email was received.

  • ….NOW, for the bands that are saying “clubs always do that! some of your rooms have done that”…..well, clubs receive, often, 100s of emails a day from bands wanting shows, so it’s hard to get to all and many slip through the cracks on accident. yes, we can all get better about that. transmission is actually hiring another “local” focused booker to the team to make that process easier on locals for our venues. -try setting up free shows or new band nights to give locals a shot. sometimes i’ll walk by beerland on a monday and see a crowded local show and the door guy will shrug like “who knew?”….1st time emos booked ghostland observatory on tuesday in our small room, like 300 college kids showed up that we’d never seen at a show before. it was kinda crazy. where did this band come from? -pay bands as well as you can, when you can. to the bands bitching, keep in mind, clubs are expensive to operate, NOT profitable and a labor or love, so usually clubs pay the sound guy out of the door, just like the band, as he/she is an integral part of the show and the bar sales on a weeknight are next to nothing, so it takes a couple hundred bucks for even some small clubs to open the doors…..that said, there is no reason that after basic costs, that the door $ shouldn’t always go to the locals that drew and got some drinkers into your bar on any night of the week. you should want those bands coming back and bringing more people to your room. obviously, it’s a mix of the band’s draw, their promo and the club’s promo to get enough ppl out to be able to pay bands well enough, but if it’s there, it needs to go to the artists. -invest in sound/lights/staff/infrastructure. i know times are tough, but after sxsw or any other busy month, if you can, upgrade/fix/invest in the band/fan experience. emos ran itself into the ground refusing to put money back into the club, because the owner was planning on selling the building for so long, so he didn’t want to fix anything. let’s not let our rooms and our scene have to put up with that from rooms we know aren’t going anywhere and are here to serve the music community. -promote the shows. not saying everyone has to spend a million bucks on ads (many venues don’t even do print anymore), but we should meet the bands half way: posters up at the venue, social media, weekly emails, making sure your website is up to date and with the locals listed on the bill, etc. IN THE END, no scene is perfect, no side is 100% right, but we’re all connected and we can all do more. I will say, again, many of you have no idea how hard it was 15-20 yrs ago in austin to see music, to get a hold of music, to book shows, to play out, to find bands to play shows, to hear music through a decent PA or see a band through terrible lighting or on the floor of a venue. Now, our biggest issues are often that there are TOO many shows on any one night (“which show do I go to?”) or maybe the problem is “man, parking is a bitch tonight”….yes, it could be better and we owe it to the bands and ourselves to do more, but it could also be a lot worse.

  • I actually think the festivals are more to blame than anything else.

    Festivals cram most of the bigger touring acts into five-six weekends every other month; rob openers of opportunities, and make it harder for the various venues to book medium to large acts on a regular basis.

    Festivals are the worst.

  • -Cream eventually rises to the top. And guess what, not every band out of the 5000+ bands in this city is cream.

    -Art is great, but just because you’re an artist doesn’t mean you’re entitled to Federal Reserve Notes or national popularity. Do it because you want to, and if other people like it, eventually the money and exposure will come to you if you’re lucky and you set yourself up for success.

    -“We all are friends”
    Why is it necessarily a good thing that all the bloggers are in the same clique?? That can be counter-productive to a scene, and can be one of the CAUSES of local music stagnation.

  • All I can say is that a friend went out and bought a 7″ after reading Nathan’s post. Mission Accomplished.

  • I’ve been talking about this same thing with my friends a lot lately in the last year or so.

    Me and a couple of my friends are actually digging trenches, running electricity, putting up drywall, etc just to get this location we have in order to do proper house shows on a monthly basis. I always wondered where all the house shows were after moving here in 2005 from Milwaukee, but in the last couple of years it’s been non existent.

    It’s true. People here have weird issues when it comes to who they will support as far as music goes. It really dawned on me how strange it is when I noticed there were maybe five people watching Weird Party (houston) destroy a stage in Spider House while everybody talked outside. The same thing happened with a band called the sheiks recently at hotel vegas.

    A friend of mine recently said it best, ” do people even care about music anymore, or do they just need a wallpaper to get fucked up in front of?”

  • Captain Shitluck

    I’m way late on this. I have been playing Austin since 2003. I have toured, made records (that’ve been reviewed here…thanks again for that) etc.

    I’m ready to go.
    It’s not that same ole “Austin has changed man” shit you hear from anyone who lived here in the 80’s/90’s etc.

    Cities change, get more crowded etc. It ebbs and flows.

    The reason I’m ready to go?
    I moved here because of the music scene. Which i wouldn’t say is “dying”….. I’d be more inclined to just call it “bullshit”

    I could run some rampant-ass list of grievances but that seems to have been done plenty…

    Long and short of it is, We play to bigger and more appreciative crowds, for more than 3 times the pay (this is not bullshit…im serious) in ANY other city of the state of Texas. It’s crazy when you can go to a town with a population like Marfa play a no cover show and get fed, drunk, paid and thanked before you leave. Personally, I would always rather do that than play a packed show on Red River, sell no merch (as always) and have some venue act like the 50 bucks they hand us (5 motherfuckers btw) is a blessing we should be grateful for.

    9/10 shows I’ve played in Austin in the last few years have cost me money…. Meaning Gas, Parking, and then the couple beers I pay 4 bucks a piece for and I leave wondering why it’s even worth my time.

    Music shouldn’t have to have a “scene” anyway. That shit is glitterdick nonsense.

    You do music because you love it, not to get rich. I don’t want to make that my focus here… I’m just saying… Austin used to have the vibe of “come here and be a part of this, let’s create something”.
    Now it’s more “If you think 75 bucks is unfair we can have a group of 5 fuckers in tighter pants that sound just like you here tomorrow for NOTHING”

    I’m gonna have to move to Denton or some shit.

    Fuck that sucks.

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