OK, Santa Fe—we did it! For better or worse, we've rounded out another decade, signed and sealed the twenty-teens into the annals of history. So long! Farewell! Auf wiedersehen! Goodbye!
Ignoring the madness of the world outside and strictly adhering to the scope of this-here column, it's probably safe to say we've all discovered quite a bit of new music, fallen in love all over again with some classics, maybe even found out that some of our old LP's aren't as important—or even as good—as we remember (here's looking at you, blink-182's Enema Of The State). And it's not a big logic jump to say that we mostly owe it to the now-ubiquitous popularity of music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.
But there's more to the rise of instant music gratification. Lying just underneath this rapid-fire, no-consequence tune discovery is an age-old beast that the career musicians and promoters have tangled with since the first hours of Napster.
"I was 15 when I started out as a promoter," says Theresa Anderson of local
post-rock act The Blackout Pictures, noting that promoting was much easier some years ago. "We had Warehouse 21, we could make paper flyers and hand them out; now we're in this digital age where people don't necessarily want paper flyers."
"We have no way to reach out to the youth [in Santa Fe] other than social media," adds drummer Jeff Jedowski, "and with the way the algorithms on Facebook work, the market becomes saturated. It's easy to get lost in the fray."
Anderson is quick to add that Santa Fe is still lacking a youth-centered music scene.
"With Warehouse 21 gone," she explains, "there's no place for youth to learn how to promote."
There's a cynical line of thought that might push back against Anderson and Weiss's hypothesis: This is a product of the age in which we live. The many benefits of musical democratization and digital promotion can outweigh the drawbacks, but the fact is, these are very real things almost every band of every genre is actively fighting. There are established, national touring acts that regularly speak out about how to get ahead of the digital promotion curve, how to maintain relevance, how to reach promoters in outlying cities. In fact, there's already entirely so much coverage of this topic in blogs and think pieces, that to continue this piece by talking to artists about this topic isn't just beating a dead horse, it's setting fire to the glue factory while playing a jaunty dirge.
So instead, let's take this to a local level. At the turn of a new decade, how can you help dig in your heels for the folks doing their music type thing?
The obvious answer would be retreading some of what I said in my first column for SFR: Go to more local shows.
"In general, I think we need more parties," he says.
But it's not as easy as going to or even throwing a good party. We all have to seek out local music. To be more specific, we have to look further than the sponsored ads Meow Wolf blasts us with on Facebook when some gigantic touring act comes to town.
As an aside:
Dear Meow Wolf, why are you not putting on a more regular local talent showcase with non-DJs? I know you've had a bit of…bad publicity…in recent months, but c'mon—y'all can absolutely do better on this front. You're the big dogs at the top of the live music food chain here.
Anyway, we've seen what happens when people don't seek out shows. Last month hailed the loss of a beloved local DIY venue (RIP Zephyr Community Arts Studio). While it's incredibly cool that the Alas de Agua Art Collective is taking over the space, it's still a tough blow for the underground music community of Santa Fe.
"There will always be a deep and special love for Zephyr in my heart," Jedowski says.
"We played our first show at Zephyr, and we thought that five people were going to show up," he adds, "but the house was packed!"
Even with Zephyr closing, or the continued revenue dominance of Meow Wolf—or even the rising tide of streaming music sites—Santa Fe has something special that sets it apart from other music scenes. It's a city that has actively resisted the trends of bigger cities like Chicago and Nashville, where local bands toil for years before reaching any level of notoriety. It's a city with promoters who don't solely care about their bottom dollar and can tread the line of digital and old-school promotional tactics.
But that requires a buy-in on the fan level. And while bands might get lucky and bottle lightning for their first show as The Blackout Pictures did, it also means we can't just rely on the constant feed of Spotify to sate our need for good music.
We need to seek it out.
We need to keep our ear to the ground.
We need to find the party.
And if we can't find one, we need to make the party happen.
But keep in mind, Weiss says, "A good party is hard to throw. Don't half-ass it."