Last Thursday we had the last of our FE Thursday Events for 2011. It was something I planned to bring to and end around now, being that events aren't as well attended during the Winter/Holidays. However, I've also been struggling on which events, if any, to bring back in 2012.
Truthfully, I find it important for Fifth Element to exist as a place where the local Twin Cities scene can experience unique, cool, and educational events...always free and always all ages. I think that is a rarity in multiple levels. We definitely appreciate the people are coming out to support these events, but at the same time I can't help but feel that they are not as well attended as they should be. Not to mention, some of the these events there are key people on the scene who I feel should be or want to be there, but aren't coming and I'm interested as to why that is. There's a variety of possible reasons.
Those questions and my experiences thru our FE Thursday Events and the Local Scene in general inspired our "State Of The Twin Cities" night. Thru out the year, I've noticed some key things that have got my attention and raised my concerns. Many of these aren't exclusive to the Twin Cities, but just a reflection of where the world is going, but regardless they are still severely affecting our scene.
If you have spoken to me lately about this subject, you have probably heard me say that I'm starting to believe that the #1 problem on the scene is that everyone thinks they are a CEO. There's certainly more than a handful of other issues, but that is just what is sticking out to me presently. I was repeatedly seeing people come to the Open Mic who were still developing artists. Of course, that is part of the point of an Open Mic, it's a testing ground to upcoming artists to build their skills and for more established artists to test new material and stay in touch with their fanbase. However, you had people losing sight of that. People who were struggle to stay on beat, hold the mic right, remember their lyrics and any other number of beginner mistakes were ending their sets with comments about their self-owned businesses, websites to buy their music, and so forth. Of course, we always encourage artists to know more about the business to better navigate their career, but the art of it is being lost on them I fear. People know the basic language, and the available mediums (social media, websites, etc...) to being in business, but don't have a clue of how and when to apply those things, but they think or pretend they do and no one really wins in that scenario either. That's just one side of that issue...
I also struggled with the fact that nearly every person that stepped on stage at the open mic would have completed benefited by coming back a few weeks later to or Network & Parlay event. 98% of the people on stage at Open Mic were upcoming artists or either artists who had been around for awhile, but still hadn't established a flourishing fanbase in the Twin Cities. Here we are hosting this "Network & Parlay" event that could teach you how to do that. Not only that, but put you in the same room with people who could change your life; promoters, club owners, local press, successful artists, graphic designers, videographers, etc... Over the several months that we did "Network & Parlay" if you came to each one you should have an impressive list of contacts and some powerful tools to aid your career in 2012. However, nearly no one from Open Mic came. On top of that, I constantly get emails from local artists asking me how to do all the things that we discussed at Network & Parlay; How do I get on the radio? How Do I get local shows? How do I get my CDs manufactured and how much will it cost? Who can shoot my music video? Who can design my artwork? I get those questions continually all week. We answered them consistently at Network & Parlay, but most these artists did not come.
It isn't just about people not supporting events at Fifth Element. I have been going out to events from very talented local artists and finding the attendance to be way lower than I would expect. I know that the Twin Cities has a huge Hip Hop fanbase, so where are they at? How come they aren't coming out to all the events like they used to? Are they getting the information or have things become so fast-paced and social media driven that things are slipping by them? These are the types of questions that I feel need to be asked so that we can strengthen this scene.
When I moved to the Twin Cities the most immediate thing I found and loved was how quickly and strongly the Hip Hop fanbase embraced and supported you. I'm not sure if that has gone away, but it certainly feels that way or at least it's lost some of its footing.
All of that and more was the inspiration for this night. I invited down some guest speakers and we had a open dialog about the pros and cons of this scene and what we could do to improve it. There was a lot of great shared information. As well as some excellent questions and comments from the crowd. We filmed the whole event and we are working to get it edited to put online so people who didn't make can get the information still. I'm hoping to have more of these dialogs and pushing forward to get everyone involved in keeping our scene striving; fans, artists, promoters, venue owners, videographers, photographers, graphic designers, etc...
Here's a quick promo video to give you a glimpse of the feel of the night:
Shot & Edited by Colton Otte