So here’s something people don’t think about a lot or at least don’t think about in the right terms, and that’s wannabe tastemakers. You might not be sure what I’m talking about, at least initially but you will. It’s the dude who is constantly on Facebook sharing bands but who seems to simultaneously alienate everyone, be it through just being an obnoxious piece of shit or just the fact that it’s only boring and staid music he’s sharing. There’s a sense of scene cred that we’ve previously discussed has a huge impact on what you do as a band. This comes from being deep in it and determining what bands are actually cool and not trying to figure out these details based off of some weird algorithm or rough idea of what you think might be cool. It’s based on spending time with the music and that’s where these wannabe tastemakers come in. They try and control scenes but only go to prove that they were the ignorant ones the whole time.
At this point you might accuse me of being a gatekeeper or someone who is refusing to accept the new blood who might not be as aware of what the scene is really all about these days. And that’ s fair enough, I can certainly see how you might take it that way, but I think the issue is twofold. First – a lot of these wannabe tastemakers are people who have been around for the while but maybe never got deeply involved, so they think that they know the scene but really don’t, and second a lot of these people are just using social media to promote themselves. When it comes down to it, people aren’t stupid, they can see when someone is genuinely into the music, they can see if someone only just discovered an entry level band and is legitimately stoked. Simultaneously they can see if someone is just sharing the same rehashed bullshit because they think that it’s going to get them points on social media, not realizing that by not educating themselves they are doing more harm than good.
Furthermore – I think there is an inherent condescension with people who share records just to try and ‘big brother’ the scene. Obviously no one likes being talked down too, and you sharing a Metallica track from the 80s isn’t exactly making your taste ‘edgy’ or ‘deep’ it just means you like the same thing as everyone else. When it comes down to it – the real ‘big brother’s of the scene are the dudes who are in the trenches, and they are much more likely to share the latest badass demo that has caught their ear rather than something they’ve been listening too for 30 years. And that’s the thing – these condescending dudes sharing classic tracks or overmarketed new bands aren’t actually doing anything substantial. They are parroting the same bullshit the industry people they so often claim to hate because they don’t ‘get it’ wants them to believe and this just leads to a giant miserable clusterfuck that just makes people who actually spend time with the music angry.
I guess what I’m trying to say is – look at how tastemakers have always worked. They’ve always bucked trends, dug into the music and found new things to dig that actually mattered. Sure people ignored them by and large for a long time but in the end a lot of these people ended up becoming the major movers and shakers for their scenes for years. Now of course the thought that they were initially ignored is what fuels a lot of these wannabes who often don’t even realize how entry level their taste is. This of course can be super problematic and frustrating – because again explaining to most people that their taste sucks or is uninteresting is only going to make them defensive. They will hold up these tastemakers as examples and heroes, even though they of course are only listening to the most entry level stuff someone like Lester Bangs brought to the fore and not focusing on the truly interesting work he did on acts like The Troggs.
So how do you deal with wannabe tastemakers trying to talk down to you and simultaneously promote their own bands? Well you’ve got to do what you need to do with just about everyone in this industry – kill them with love. If they share a really bland mainstream single from fifteen years ago maybe reply with a band that you like that sounds similar to them but is y’know, relevant and cool. This can be hard to do, because the sad people clogging up your feed with White Stripes singles and calling them ‘the artists of our generation’ can be really fucking annoying,, as much as you might love the White Stripes because they are truly a great band, because we should only have to listen to Fell In Love With A Girl so many times before listening to one of their truly great deep cuts. (Side note, another annoying part of Wannabe Tastemakers is that they ruin classic bands for the rest of us) So when they post Seven Nation for the millionth time instead just be a bro and post a track from your favorite new stoner rock band or something – it will work out – I promise.
The music industry is a frustrating place with a ton of people who only really half understand what they are talking to the detriment of pretty much everyone else. Embracing this unfortunate reality and working together to refine something greater can be really hard. People suck and don’t want to bother to learn. People don’t realize how high the barrier is to really enter the industry and go somewhere. You can’t just go to conventions and hope to meet some people, you need to be in the trenches day in and day out with the dream of growing something special over the long term and if you can’t embrace that you might as well quit now.