Say goodbye to your favorite indie venue!
Allow me to explain: In 2007, some guys got together and launched Record Store Day, an annual event in which record stores across the globe host special performances and meet-and-greets with artists. They also hock limited edition vinyl releases from artists (of all sizes) at said stores. The idea is that Record Store Day will inspire folks to leave their damn living rooms and go to the damn store to buy some damn records. (Record stores shutter all the time, music fans have to fight to keep them alive.) For a while, it was successful, and like all good things, capitalism ruined it: the limited edition releases attracted major labels, who used RSD as an excuse to sell Justin Bieber 7" singles. Record Store Day became dominated by shitty, bad, no good marketing for people who don’t support record stores as is, and for one day, sales could feasibly sky rocket—but those audiences, Bieber/pop fans who normally don’t frequent record stores, would never return. And independent music venues are next.
In 2014, some other guys in the U.K. created Independent Venue Week in the same vein (literally describing it as “Record Store Day, but for venues,”) which will take place in the U.S. for the first time, July 9 through July 15, this year. We won’t know what venues are participating or what artists will be involved until May, but the gist is that special events will take place across the U.S. to inspire people to go to small-to-mid-tier venues not owned by Live Nation or some other major music conglomerate.
Here’s the issue there: “Special events” far too often exclude the local talent that makes the venue so special. If Lorde plays at, like, The Echo in Los Angeles on a Friday, the bands who normally play there aren’t getting the same sort of attention. Those who came for the “Green Light” singer probably wouldn’t go to see the Tracks, or some other local act worthy of attention, the following weekend. Sure, it’ll bring money into these places for a night, or a week, but it’s not sustainable.
I imagine, too, that Independent Venue Week be co-opted by smaller venues owned by major companies that simply give the appearance of being independent (think of it as the club equivalent of major labels taking over Record Store Day.) It certainly won’t bolster underground communities, and it will probably give them further commodification to worry about. Live music spaces about community, not money, man.
Prove me wrong, Independent Venue Week! Or get the hell out.