Every day, it seems like there’s another scummy industry dude under the impression that he can treat people however he wants without consequences. It’s rather disappointing that these incidents come as no surprise, but that’s the reality when these stories arise on practically an every-other-day basis—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Over the course of the past year or so, following the Front Porch Step situation, there has been an awakening of sorts. Growing up, I’ve become more cognizant of the often-unsavory events that go on behind the scenes of our beloved “scene”; but on the flipside of that, I’ve also watched a community come together before my eyes for the greater good. That good, of course, is creating a more safe and inclusive environment. People are becoming increasingly aware of ongoing issues in our music communities and taking action.
Violence, sexual misconduct, sexism and racism are all present in our society. It’s a cultural dilemma, and one that the music scene is certainly not exempt from. That said, I feel like this community is a place people still turn to in order to seek refuge from everyday troubles. So why not do our best to keep our surroundings free from all of that? It’s not too much to ask, and I believe it’s achievable. There’s no single way of fixing such a multifaceted problem, but there are some things you can do to help combat it. I’ve composed a short list:
- Have mutual respect for one another.
This one is pretty common sense. Don’t take advantage of other people. Don’t have an inflated ego. Don’t literally kick fans off of your stage. Don’t be condescending or mansplain (or any privileged equivalent). Basically, “Do onto others as you would have them do unto yourself.”
- Look out for each other.
Keep an eye on people that pose a potential threat. Don’t hesitate to alert venue security when necessary. See someone fall down at a show? Pick them up. Overhear a friend saying something offensive or harmful toward groups of marginalized people? Say something. See someone get attacked and victim-blamed on social media for coming forward with their experience? Stand up for them. Believe them. Offer support.
- Be critical of your idols and friends alike, which can mean boycotting those who are problematic.
I’d like to expand on that last one. Understand that when you consciously choose to listen, purchase or enjoy a band’s music or merchandise, you are indirectly supporting their lifestyle. You are quite literally endorsing them. It sends the message to the person in question that you do not care what they did or who they hurt; you will back them regardless. Unconditionally. It’s not only dismissing their behavior, but is implicitly encouraging it. Whereas if you are vocal and take a stand against their actions, you’re telling the world, “Hey, what they did wasn’t cool and I don’t tolerate it. I won’t wear their merch, go to their shows, or listen to their music and you shouldn’t either.” Nothing can exist without supply and demand. If no one shows up to their shows, the shows don’t happen. Don’t patronize them. There are plenty of bands with a positive message more deserving of your time. Consequences lets these people know that they aren’t welcome, and can help to prevent more people like that from setting foot the music scene. Which in return, puts an end to their wrong-doing, or at least limits their scope of destruction. Hold everyone accountable, including yourself and the people you love/admire.
I encourage everyone to add onto this list. Ask yourself questions like “Am I contributing to the problem?” If the answer is yes, evaluate your behavior and change it. “What can I to improve the state of my community?” Every big movement and social change starts small. Do your part.