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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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A Scene is a Two-Way Street
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Earlier this month I was at Homeboy Sandman’s album release party for The Good Sun at SOBs in New York City. Sandman’s an emcee I’ve known for a number of years and have had the pleasure of watching grow into being one of the best hip-hop artists on the planet.

The crowd was packed wall to wall and included many emcees from the scene. Throughout the evening I spoke with a number of people about the event and it became obvious to me why Homeboy Sandman can take his show to, and pack, a big place like SOBs, while our local artists are still playing to the same crowds in the same event spaces. Yes, talent is certainly a factor, but we have talented artists here. Packing the house also has to do with support, and I’m not talking about the support of the fans, I’m talking about the support of other artists.

What Homeboy Sandman has accomplished over the past three years, and what I hardly see at all in Connecticut, is that he’s worked to not just be a great artist, but to also be a great supporter of artists. Everyone has seen him at shows, towering over the entire crowd (unless X-Plane, or a similarly height blessed artist is also in the house), usually at, or very near the front row, staying positive and hyped about the artist who is performing on stage, whether they’re long time friends or they’ve never met before. This is exactly what our local acts need to start doing.

Unfortunately, most of our artists tend to stick with their our cliques and crews. They show support when it’s one of their own who has a show, but if someone else has a show in the area they’re nowhere to be found. This is no way to build an artist community, and it’s no way to build a career. Support is a two way street and you can’t expect people to be at your shows when you’re not at theirs.

I understand, a lot of artists here have families, which is something less of the NYC hip-hop community has to worry about being that the average age of the emcees in NYC is slightly younger than those here, but if you’re attempting to live off of your music at any point in the future you have to realize shelling out $5 to $10 and hanging out at a couple of local shows a month is part of the job, especially in a state like ours where it’s not like we have a ton of shows every month. Call it networking, call it scoping out talent, call it being seen, call it whatever you want to call it, but get out there and make it happen.

After the show, introduce yourself to the artist if you’ve never met them before. If you have met, just say what’s up. The next day, send them a tweet or post on their Facebook wall that you enjoyed their performance. They’ll send something back thanking you for coming out, and when you have your next show, guess who’ll more than likely be in the crowd with a few friends? Yup, you guessed it, the person you just showed support to.

A lot of artists act as though networking is this big hardship and that it involves getting your music to all sorts of people and accruing the most Facebook fans, when in reality it’s as simple as saying hi and staying in contact. You don’t even have to like an artist’s music that much (although it would certainly help), you just have to be there, because the more you’re there the more exposure you’ll get and the more people will recognize you as someone who cares about the scene and not just yourself. Fans in the crowd will also start to recognize you and you’ll begin to achieve local celebrity status.

This is the launching pad our local artists are looking for, and it’s inexpensive, and pretty easy to do. Just realize not everything is about you, and after a while everyone will be all about you, but until you get involved in your own scene you’re not giving anyone else any reason to.

Fans will only come if you’re a fan first.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:45 AM  
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