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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recap: "The State of the Music Scene" Discussion at the Luminary Center for the Arts

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Mike Cracchiolo, Annie Zaleski, Ryan Wasoba and Matt Strom were the panelists at last night's State of the Music Scene discussionvThursday at the Luminary Center for the Arts. - DIANA BENANTI
  • Diana Benanti
  • Mike Cracchiolo, Annie Zaleski, Ryan Wasoba and Matt Strom were the panelists at last night's State of the Music Scene discussionvThursday at the Luminary Center for the Arts.

Some admitted music nerds talked shop, St. Louis and "the scene" last Thursday at The Luminary Center for the Arts.

The panel consisted of Mike Cracchiolo, talent buyer at The Firebird, Annie Zaleski, music editor of the Riverfront Times (you may have heard of it), Matt Strom, co-founder of Eleven magazine, and Ryan Wasoba, founding member of So Many Dynamos and owner of Bird Cloud Recordings. Luminary owners James and Brea McAnally presided over the proceedings.

The panel addressed the gamut of issues facing St. Louis musicians and fans: how to get press and how not to burn out your fan base, to the negative paradigm and pervasive inferiority complex that's holding us back from being a major player such as Austin or Atlanta.

Here are some of the conclusions reached by the panel:

*There is no St. Louis music "scene" per se -- "scene" is a term applied after the fact to express something that may or may not have been there in the first place. It was the general opinion among the panelists that "scene" is a misnomer in most cases, because the term is applied by outsiders and generally does not reflect the reality of the actual music community. Wasoba defined a scene as a collection of people who aren't imposing limits on themselves and who take responsibility for their work. Notable scenes mentioned were Britain in the '90s, all-ages venue the Smell in Los Angeles, and Brooklyn right now.

*St. Louis is going through a creative renaissance. Everyone agreed that there's been incredible, laudable progress across the board as far as live music goes, with sold out shows, new venues opening up and killer bands playing nightly.

*St. Louis doesn't have record labels, at least, not in the sense that Seattle and L.A. have labels.

*McAnally asked about the historical precedent of a lack of business/promotion/label infrastructure available to local bands, which in other cities is used to explain the music industry "game." The panel agreed that this is a crucial element missing, and one of the big things that separates us from New York and L.A. Unlike larger cities, St. Louis doesn't have an infrastructure in place for bands, nor do we have established acts on whose coattails younger bands can ride. "Ultimately, there's really nobody there to say, "This is how you do it," which I think is something bigger cities have." said Cracchiolo.

*Unlike other cities, St. Louis is a weeknight destination.

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