Youth In Music is a mini-series born from a desire to get my friends interested in local music. I was frustrated by the lack of access for teenagers to Columbus shows and musicians; when high schoolers did want to learn about local bands, they didn’t know where to go, and when they found a show, it was often 21+ or otherwise inaccessible. Stephanie, Austin, and Jordan at Tiny House Music Collective encouraged me to write about it, and thus, this two-part mini-series was created.
With a steadily growing number of streaming platforms, it’s become increasingly overwhelming for high schoolers to dive into the realm of local music. Between SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp, there are thousands of albums floating around with few efficient methods of sorting by anything other than genre.
Because of this, teenagers frequently complain of the intimidation of not knowing where to start, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Often, discovering new music means walking past a radio and hearing something you enjoy, but since that may not always be immediate or convenient for local music, there are several avenues that aren’t nearly as overwhelming as digging through the internet.
Relationships are key in the music industry, even for fans. As a result, the best way to get plugged in is to know someone who already is. As Andy Downing, editor of Columbus Alive, says, “There will always be someone who knows more than you.”
Take advantage of that fact and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be as easy as messaging a local band you already like on social media. It’s a lot less intimidating than it seems; Columbus musicians are typically welcoming and will often have other music to recommend to you. Follow them on social media and keep track of when they have shows and who they’re playing with. Starting with who you already know is far less frustrating than searching the depths of the “Columbus” tag on Bandcamp.
If you don’t know anyone with connections to local music, inexpensive shows or festivals like ComFest or Independents’ Day are another excellent option. They’re usually either free or cheap, and there are plenty of local acts to discover – all you need is an open mind. Ryan Getz, founder of Tuned Up, used to live near Spacebar and would often walk down to see who was playing to find new acts to listen to.
If you hear something you like, be an active listener. Google the band after the show and keep tabs on them through social media to stay updated on future shows. The internet is your friend here; Google is free and there are plenty of resources to seek out music, like Cringe.com’s weekly show calendar or Tiny House’s very own musician directory.
For musicians who want to increase their reach with teenagers, be aware that there often isn’t one perfect avenue of communication. Social media usage varies between generations, but simply putting up flyers often isn’t enough by itself anymore. As a result, the same advice for listeners fits here as well – be involved in your community. Talk to fans and encourage them to invite their friends to shows. Play festivals and target your show promotion, using social media that teens are more likely to use (like Instagram or Twitter). If your music isn’t on popular streaming services or you aren’t active on social media, fix that so it’s easier for fans to share online. The more accessible you are, the easier it’ll be for younger fans who are searching the internet.
When it comes to discovering local music, it often boils down to involvement. If you’re willing to put in the time to learn about the resources that exist, it will be far easier for you to find someone that you love. You don’t always have to dig through the depths of Bandcamp or Reverbnation, because there are plenty of artists out there who want you to follow them. Often, a simple conversation can lead to new discoveries – and in the meantime, check out the links below to get a head start.