It's been about two weeks since the latest edition of the Myrtle Beach Music Scene Meet-Up.
Since that time, I've talked to many of 30-40 folks who came through The Sound Hole on Oct. 2 and multiple times I've sat down to write about what we, as a scene, accomplished at that night.
Yet, for some reason, each time I've been unable to pull the trigger on summing up what took place that evening. And, as harsh as this may sound, I think the reason it's been tough to sum up what happened is that when I look back at it as a whole, we really didn't accomplish anything.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to bash the idea of meet-ups or to get caught up in complaining about the lack of progress we've made.
Each of the three times I've been involved with hosting a meet-up I've heard some great success stories and been thrilled with the ideas shared by members of this music scene. Every time, I've been surprised by the interaction I've seen between people across genres. And most of all, I've just been excited that anyone even cares enough about local music to show up and share their opinions.
However, when I look at how each of these meet-ups has been set up — as a town hall-style discussion about "How we can fix the scene" — I believe the premise of what we're doing is flawed.
As long as we're setting our sights on this lofty goal of "fixing" what's wrong with local music, we're never going to get anywhere.
I think by doing this, we're misrepresenting the real purpose of these meet-ups — to network with fellow musicians and fans — and we're leaving many who attend unsatisfied with the results as they leave wondering why we haven't really "fixed" anything.
I mean, even if we could round up 300 or 3,000 people to attend a meet-up we're still not going to discuss our way into a "fix" that allows us to magically snap our fingers and turn Myrtle Beach into the next Austin or Nashville overnight.
Plus, by focusing mostly on "what's wrong" instead of "what's right" we're just inviting people to come take out their frustration about why their band hasn't hit it big, why there aren't enough venues that support original music or how bars aren't paying them enough.
A simple solution
Fortunately, I think the solution to this seemingly complex problem is pretty simple.
Instead of spending your days wishing for a "fix" to the problems that persist within our scene, it's time to stop and come to the relization that the Myrtle Beach music scene does not need to be fixed.
Let me repeat this...the scene does not need to be fixed.
The problem we've always faced in Myrtle Beach music (even though I've only been here a few years, I've had many tell me this...) is a problem of perception, not potential.
People see the surface of what Myrtle Beach is musically and they believe that this is ALL we are and this is ALL we ever will be.
They focus on tired cover bands as a way to back up their argument that there's no originality in the town, without ever seeing the variety of unique perspectives our area has fostered.
They fall back on the fact that they can't draw a crowd to prove that there's no support for local music, without ever considering that their fans might have been at any of 5-10 other awesome events happening the same night.
They use all these quick-and-easy assements of our area as an excuse to give up or to stop trying to push their own original ideas because it's the easy thing to do.
The bottom line here is that the scene is what you make of it. In fact, any scene is what you make of it. If you think you could walk down the street in L.A. or NYC and have someone hand you a gig just because you're awesome, then you've got bigger problems than living at the beach.
There is plenty potential for success in Myrtle Beach music if you're willing to put aside your misconceptions of how you think things should be and instead roll with the punches and adapt to what works here.
It doesn't take much more than a quick browse through the stories on ListenUp to see that there are ALL SORTS of people doing awesome things here and having success with it.
Before this column turns into just another cheerleading plea heralding the successes of a select few, let's turn it back to my original point: Meet-Ups.
I think these are awesome events and I applaud Paul McKinney for sparking this idea last summer and wouldlike to thank everyone who has supported them thus far.
However, going forward I'd like to call for a change to how we do these and once again offer to help organize future events with anyone else who'd like to participate.
What I'd like to see happen is for the Myrtle Beach Music Scene Meet-Up to become a monthly gathering of local musicians, fans and supporters of local music.
Instead making each event a forced discussion or Q&A session, the meet-ups will become a quick 1-2 hour get together with an emphasis on networking and meeting other people within the scene.
Perhaps someone will stand up and suggest an issue to discuss, a question to answer or a theme for the night in order to keep conversation going, but for the most part any thoughts of needing to solve the scene's problems will be relieved in favor of simply hanging out, having a good time and meeting some like-minded folks.
To help show our support to the folks who keep the scene vivrant, each of these meet-ups will be hosted at a local venue in conjuction with a show by a local band we think is worth supporting. We'll schedule each meet-up an hour or two before a show, with hopes that some of the folks who attend might want to stick around and check out a group they might not have seen before.
We'll rotate genres, venues and areas in hopes of attracting different crowds to each meet-up and we'll do the best we can to include people from all parts of the scene to try and promote a stronger sense of community within local music.
I know it may sound a little cheesy, but I see signs every day that this community is growing locally and I think it's about time we stopped hiding out behind our computers and started working together. This can be a great way to stop saying you support local music and actually get out and do it.
So c'mon. Come meet some new people and have a good time...who knows there might even be free food and drinks?!?
If this new take on the Myrtle Beach Music Scene Meet-Up sounds like something you might be interested in participatinig in or helping organize, please comment below or drop me a line with some feedback about what you think or suggestions on where you'd like to see us host our Novemeber meet-up.