Carolina Music United and The State of the SC Music Community

CMU Poster

March 10th
CMU First Meeting
5 Points Pub

There are a lot of things that go along with having a healthy music community. Check out the Facebook thread to read a lot of comments on what people think goes into that.

Carolina Music United is a new music organization focused on bringing the music community together. The first meeting happening Sunday brings many different music enthusiasts together to network with musicians and have a chance to get to know each other on a more personal level. A very noble and respectable cause.

We at SceneSC are looking forward to it, because we don’t agree with the statement that the music scene is “in disarray and fractured.” The list of people below is our argument that it’s strong and there are many people doing their part, a lot of them doing it pro bono (like us) to help promote some of SC’s fine musicians. But that’s the magic of this meeting, that we all get to express our opinions and be open minded to what others have to say.

When it comes down to it, the music community is about music lovers of all types. When bands with SC connections make it to the big-time we all smile a little bit. Watching Shovels and Rope and Needtobreathe on Letterman brought a huge smile to my face. When Band of Horses performed on Letterman last September and Ryan Monroe wore a Josh Roberts and The Hinges shirt we all had to have been a little bit giddy. All Get Out just played a couple of dates opening for Grammy winning Fun., one of the hottest bands in America at the moment. And Toro y Moi, wow, Chaz pretty much invented a genre and is now selling out shows and playing huge festivals all over the world. In the last year we’ve had a handful of artists do Daytrotter sessions, a wildly popular recording series. This year we have a handful of artists traveling to SXSW, and local record label Post-Echo co-hosting a showcase with SC’s own Stereofly Collective.

All of this success comes from one general area. Lump in South Carolinian’s on American Idol who have had success. Add in our Country music artists that have found success along with all of the other genres that do well here. There is seriously that much talent around the state that not one person or organization can keep up with it. That’s why there are so many media outlets these days, because there is that much newsworthy potential content available.

South Carolina and the city of Columbia in particular is a unique area. Appreciate it all for what it is, and don’t become frustrated as a musician if you aren’t gaining fans on a local level. Metro Atlanta has over 1 million people more than our entire state. Asheville has a huge arts community, Charlotte is a quickly growing big city. We here in SC aren’t comparable to any of that. We don’t have as many people to market to, but we have a lot of great things going. Music Crawl, Dig South, and Fall For Greenville are all great arts festivals for the size of our community. We’ve got some really cool venues around the state, and tons of people working hard to push the great music we have here. We’ve got some fine up and coming record labels, wide diversity in our music, and a pretty neat network of house shows.

At SceneSC we push people who care about music to do their part. Start a blog, take some pictures, go to a show, record some video, post it to Youtube, tell your friends about your favorite band, buy an album, do just even the slightest bit to let other people know we have talented musicians here. If you’re reading this, then you probably already do your part.

With the amount of amazing bands we have in the state right now everyone must be doing something right. Of course it would be nice to have more people out at each and every show, but when it comes down to it, we just have less dedicated music fans than other areas of the country. Hopefully that’s something that can change with everyone working together. This CMU meeting is a great start for more progress. But dammit, South Carolina music lovers must be doing something right to push the talent we do have as far as they’ve gone. In fact, I’ve been to 3 sold out locals only shows this year alone. I’m sure there have been many more than that.

Sean Rayford (Photography)
WUSC 90.5 (Radio)
WARQ 93.5 (Radio)
The Palm 92.1 (Radio)
WXRY 99.3 (Radio)
Purple House Productions (Sound/Lighting)
RevAMP Magazine (Press)
Archer Avenue Studio (Recording)
Strawberry Skys Studio (Recording)
Fork and Spoon (Label)
SC Music Guide (Press)
SceneSC (Press)
Jeff Smith (Entertainment Management)
Vance McNabb (Entertainment Management)
Troy Browder/ (Photography)
Fontastic Recordings (Recording)
Winston Visions (Photography/Videography)
Sims Music (Gear)
Country Fried Rock (Radio)
Southern Harmony Recording Studio (Recording)

1 comment

  1. David,

    Thank you for posting about this event and shining light on this upcoming community movement. I also thank you for accepting to have a table at the meeting, increasing awareness for the blog and copy shop among the musicians and other attendees of the meeting.

    When this idea was just in its infancy, I and the others had no idea what to expect from a few fresh ideas and the means to put them out there and see if they stuck, and we were clearly not ready for the support we began to receive.

    The funny thing about CMU is that we have no set leadership. Anyone can point to Alex Roberts or Allen Bishop as originally hosting the idea of beginning it, or Benji McKay or Me helping organize things, but the idea of leadership in this kind of community following doesn’t really appeal to me. To me, CMU is community-sourced and contributed; we’re an ongoing conversation more than a band write-up or other promotion that I or any one person provides.

    That perpetual conversation is much like the Facebook thread you’ve linked above, a multitude of voices with different ideas about what can make a healthy music scene – some of which even differ from your own.

    For us to say SC’s collective music scenes are fractured and in disarray doesn’t imply that we haven’t generated success stories from the state. No, we applaud those successes with vigor and zeal, watching our fellow SC brethren make those milestones that we as still-local musicians hope to also reach. I can understand your argument that seeing other once-locals “make it” can be a driving force behind the motivation of others in the local scene to strive for similar greatness. It definitely does bring about a sense of community, and you are absolutely right about that.

    My one issue with that is drawing the line between still calling a group local and calling one national once they reach those kind of milestones. From your paragraph, to me it seems like all the groups’ successes you mention come outside of SC, on late night shows in NYC and LA, in Austin, TX, and on the road touring. Does this mean a musician can’t find comparable success by only sticking to their home state? That’s where CMU comes in to play.

    CMU’s mission is the betterment of all SC music scenes through 4 key components, Promotion, Presentation, Performance and Networking. Rather than write a review about a band, we’re going to provide them with tips on songwriting, give them information on music education, provide resources on presentation of their song and then point them in the right direction to who out there can write reviews. In the end, I feel there will be a more lasting impact on the band or musician. The “WE” I mention means the community as a whole, and the community sourced and contributed resources that we all provide to one another. We’re about connecting people in a marketplace of ideas, from the musicians to the music lovers and everyone in between – including those people that SceneSC pushes to do their part as well. We’re about not assuming as musicians we know everything, and turning the microphone around to the audience members for a change to ask what THEY are expecting going into local shows and what should be the standard. We’re about empowering the musicians in the community to support one another before they can expect eachother’s fans to follow along.

    In the end, we know no SC cities are comparable in population to the Atlantas, Ashevilles, and Charlottes of the South but the big question is: who says we can’t aspire to be like them? Let’s let CMU grow to be the impetus that brings us there.

    I definitely agree that the CMU meeting on Sunday will be a great step in progression for Columbia and SC music as whole, but I have to believe that there is support behind the idea that the local music scene has been disparate in recent times. Columbia knows this, and they want that unity, the all-inclusive sense of community among genres. The willingness of our vendors/resources to host tables, and the outpouring of people sharing, liking and committing to attending the event are evident of that.

    Healthy discussion like this is what we’re all about. If we, and the rest of the music community engross ourselves with the idea of constantly improving, innovating, and creating, we can really make strides to progress.
    Thanks for taking part.

    Blake Arambula
    CMU Meeting Organizer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.