Did you move somewhere new or just haven’t discovered any great local acts in your city yet? Lucky for you, there’s a lot of easy things you can do to find and support your local music scene! Let’s go!
Discovering Local Artists
Discovering local artists has gotten way easier in the past several years. No more reliance on zines or (god forbid) actual magazines!
Search Bandcamp for Local Music
This is something you can do without getting off the couch! Bandcamp.com is one of the easiest places to find (and eventually support) local musicians. By navigating to bandcamp.com/tag/yourcity (for example: bandcamp.com/tag/pittsburgh) you’ll instantly get a selection of the hottest releases from your city. If you click on “all yourcity releases,” you can even add tags to sort by genre. Check out some of the releases and find something you like!
Tune into Local Radio Stations
Local radio stations are also a great source for local music. Your best bet here is to tune into college or independent radio stations. Even these smaller stations typically have online/app streaming so it’s super easy to listen. They often play local music throughout the day, have dedicated local music hours, or even live sessions with local artists. Be sure to follow their social media too to stay in the loop about scene news and events.
Seeing Local Artists Live
Now that you’re familiar with some local artists, it’s time to get out there and support live local music!
Get to Your Next Concert Early
Usually all it takes to see a local artist is getting to a concert early. Promoters often work with local bands when the main touring band asks for openers in each city (or if a support act has to drop a show at the last minute). If you notice that a certain band isn’t on the tour poster, or is only playing one date, there’s a good chance that they’re local. If you were already planning to go to the show, get there early and check out the local talent!
Community Events and Local Music Showcases
A lot of cities have numerous events throughout the year where local artists are prominently featured. For example, in Pittsburgh, there is Millvale Music Festival that showcases over 200 local bands. And Portland has PDX Pop Now that is a completely free multi-day festival featuring all local bands. Check your local paper, tune into local radio, and look at local venue schedules to find out about upcoming events showcasing local artists.
If your city isn’t one to visibly promote local artists, you may have to do some digging. These days, a lot of the underground/DIY music scene is organized online. Although the internet has created a lot of challenges for the music industry (e.g. streaming/piracy causing a decline in album sales), artists’ ability to promote concerts online has made it much easier to find local events. If you go to Facebook and search “yourcity Music,” you’ll likely get an array of pages, groups, and events for music in your area. Join as many as you like and follow along.
You can also follow the local artists you’ve already discovered to find out about the shows they have coming up. Even if you can’t make it, check out who else is playing; there’s likely at least one other local in the lineup (and usually some cool touring bands too).
Staying Involved and Supporting the Local Music Scene
Once you’re familiar with your local music scene, it’s great to stay involved and help it grow.
Continue going to local events and checking out new artists. Talk to bands and let them know you like their music! Over time, you’ll learn more about how your local scene functions, whether that’s underground emo bands, local bar bands, or warehouse EDM artists. Every scene is different, but by actively going to shows and befriending artists, you’ll be more aware of great local music and upcoming events.
Supporting the Scene
Beyond going to shows and streaming music, there’s a lot you can do to support your local scene! One of these is buying merch or music on Bandcamp, but there’s ways you can help even if you’re tight on cash. For example, if you have a useful skill, such as photography or web design, see if there’s any local artists that could benefit from your knowledge. If you have friends in other cities, see if they can help any of your city’s artists when they want to tour. And share any great musical discoveries with friends and on social media!
No matter your background or financial situation, there’s probably a way you can support your local music scene, it all starts with getting involved!
Discover any great local music recently? Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget to add the shows you attend to your Concert Archive!