The importance of supporting your local music scene

The Garden, Surf Curse and Enjoy are just some of the more successful Southern Californian bands playing many shows all throughout Orange County. (Dylan Robinson/Lariat)

Upon hearing bands with names such as Shock Therapy or even Psychic Barber exist and are residents of Orange County, it may serve as a shock to your system at first. Besides feeling like they came from a band name generator, both bands have incredibly enjoyable music, yet both still somehow have less than 5000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

The music industry is no doubt saturated with multitudes of artists these days all occupying the same space as artists of old. Small time new releases tend to go under the radar and niche genres are often overshadowed by the billboard hits to release each and every week.

It’s safe to say that if you aren’t making a dent into a mainstream hit or amassing a small, but dedicated fan base to support your work, then making music in today’s climate proves highly challenging and almost unviable.

Redeeming all of this, however, is the fact that even the large presences of Lil Nas X and Lady Gaga had to start somewhere and this is where your given local music scene comes into the picture. Fighting tooth and nail to extend their reach in the small scene they have to work with is one thing, but breaking into and branching out further into surrounding areas proves even tougher.

Supporting the local scene, Orange County in this case, does wonders for the exposure of the artists people like. Even though the bands and individuals of a scene still must put their work before them to warrant any sort of growth, it helps them immensely to begin actively supporting this broadening of their horizons.

This growth can be achieved in many ways starting out as something as simple as reposting their flyers for upcoming shows to your Instagram stories or telling friends how “totally radically cool” they are by old fashioned word of mouth. Music videos and local publications have done a lot for expanding a band’s reach such as Junkmail and Fashion Jackson who are regularly covered by local music journalists in the scene.

Spotify allows artists to track exactly where and when people are consuming their music making for easier tour spot scouting among groups in the scene. Surf rock band Lacker performed at the Garden Grove Amphitheatre, a leg of Fashion Jackson’s tour mentioned during their set how they can see people listening to their music at seven in the morning showcasing just how detailed these analytics are.

AltAngeles is an OC local music promoter and publication covering artists in the OC scene granting them a platform they might be without. Thanks to their contributions of weekly articles featuring new and upcoming artists through their photo catalogs or show recaps, artists can rely on the AltAngeles team to give their work a more professional voice beyond the usual Instagram or Facebook gratuity. 

Supporting artists you enjoy gives greater opportunities for smaller artists in a bottom feeder sort of manner. By seeing success at the top of the proverbial local music food chain, smaller bands can then be afforded chances to be put on a shows’ lineup due to connections to the larger artists ahead of them.

Networking is huge in the scene not only for its obvious outreach capabilities, but because fans of one band might like the music of another simply if they are endorsed by the artist the fan comes from first. Lacker, for instance, started out just the first quarter of 2019 and now are already being booked for shows at the Santa Ana Observatory and larger collective shows showcasing some of the scene’s more notable talent like Rinse and Repeat and Blivet.

Continuing to show love by supporting artists in any way you see fit in turn allows more avenues for growth in the scene beyond the music itself. This relates to booking greater venues for shows, providing space for independent clothing and accessory sellers and even self-promoted zines for the scene that all feed back into a common love for the music that initiated it all.

Savannah Rico, band member stylist and self-proclaimed touring “stan,” runs her own independent clothing vendor at shows in the area. Featuring clothes worn by individual artists in the scene, Rico appeals to longtime fans of a given band’s work by offering a chance to add their favorite bass player’s look to their own wardrobe all at an affordable price.

“Creativity is such an important part of learning,” said Rico. “And sometimes I feel like schools repress that whereas music and other artistic outlets can really fill that void.”

Rico prides herself on encouraging discussion around her favorite bands like Hunny and Hot Flash Heatwave to capture an essence only available among the diehard fans of the scene. A cultural presence seen at shows is noted by Rico crafting some of the best friendships she has made yet through attending them. 

“Word of mouth is such an important thing for the spread of music and these local shows can help reach wider audiences,” said Rico. “Apart from that, shows can be a marketplace and platform for other artists and can be somewhat of an artistic Mecca.”

As put by Rico, shows are often more than just shows. Providing a space for music discourse and fashion to flourish are just two reverberations felt when going to an OC show. They offer far more than what meets the eye and develop such a keen sense of awareness for all that occurs in the scene and the people that inhabit it.

Here in OC locals are very lucky to have such a highly populated music scene with new artists on the rise each and every day as opposed to other counties or even entire states where new local music doesn’t bloom as much. Is there even a music scene at all in Vermont? Nah, can’t be.

No matter where you reside, supporting your local artist can be as simple as streaming them on Spotify or Bandcamp to as complex as stealing their guitar picks or shirts during live performances. Steal the picks only, please, you weirdos. 

Aspiring New York rapper Andrew Russell strongly urges people to support local artists as it’s an extension to supporting music in general. Russell tries to write new songs and be engaged in his community college’s events for giving local music a platform.

“Music is as much of a community as it’s a means of expression,” said Russell. “And even if you’re a ‘nobody,’ as long as you play with passion and bring something new to the table suddenly you’ll notice a lot of others sounding like you.”

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and even if you start out extremely inspired by the bands to have come before you, at least it’s a start into finding your own style. Plus at this rate who hasn’t been inspired by Nirvana, Clapton or The Cure at some point.

“Where I live, there’s a lot of local musicians and I usually hear about them through word of mouth or actually meeting them,” said Russell. “Even if you don’t live in an area with a lot of local musicians, the underground music scene exists in your pocket, and some of the most talented musicians reside there.”

Unearthing every gem can prove hard still in today’s scene, but streaming services and local publications help to highlight new releases and detail just who to listen to based on your preferred genres. The music you like exists, it just probably doesn’t reside in the mainstream. 

Huntington Beach has a very prolific music scene seeing much success in the many bands to arise from it such as Lacker and Kill Dogs. Bree Saenz, Huntington Beach resident and aspiring singer/songwriter, details how supporting your favorite bands, in any possible way, leads to their growth and impacts their success in ways that go under the radar.

“If there’s a certain band or genre you like in the scene, you can really make them grow by inviting people to their shows and see them blossom into something so different,” said Saenz. “There is so much talent in the scene that needs to be recognized. Love those people, support them, go to all their shows and even if you can’t make it, post to your Instagram.”

Going out and following accounts that promote local bands’ shows on where to find them is a great way to start following the scene. Once that’s achieved, go to shows, make friends and support the bands in meaningful ways according to what you’re comfortable with. 

By ensuring the scene is nurtured through supporting the acts you care for, the reverberations are felt all throughout and extend to those bands that are beginning to start. Through support extra opportunities are available to all who participate whether it be greater venues or bigger play bills. 

Support your artists and, while it’s cheesy, you’ll see it pay off greatly in numerous profound ways for your scene.