What is a blog-like digital dinosaur doing in 2021?

It was July 3rd, 2008 when the idea was born over lunch at Groucho’s in Columbia, SC to start a music blog covering “mostly indie rock” in the South Carolina music scene.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on my relationship with music over the last few months. The memory of purchasing a Philips external CD burner in the late 90’s to make mixes for my friends. Using Napster to download low bit MP3’s and discovering all types of new music for FREE. Creating music profiles for local bands on sites like GarageBand, MySpace, and later on Purevolume — I felt like a digital pioneer when it came to music in those days.

Flash forward to 2008, I wanted back in. I felt disconnected from any type of music community. A person on the fringe who would go to shows every now and then and occasionally gig with friends when I’d dust off my Gibson SG. My sister however was out at shows often and she’d tell me about all these bands I should check out.

So that’s how it started.

The name — Is it SC Scene? SCene? Is it Scene SC? SceneSC? Scene South Carolina? Scene? How does it roll off the tongue?

To be honest, not well. I quit correcting people 10 years ago because it is all the same to me.

When we started the blog many of the issues we encountered we did not anticipate. I didn’t think too much about the name. It seemed to fit relatively well with our ideas of covering the music we enjoyed. SCScene.com was taken, so SceneSC.com it was.

For the first few months it was a lot of fun. Going to shows not knowing anyone and writing show reviews. Who or what is this SceneSC thing anyway? Snap a couple of photos with the point and shoot camera. Buy a JVC camcorder from Circuit City to record some live shows. Still didn’t know what we were doing, but it was something fun and different and broke up the monotony of the ole day job.

Then you have all the other luggage you never expected. The criticisms, low view counts when you’d work really hard on an article or video, the feeling that no one really cares about local music. If people really cared why do we have to scream “support local”? Why is no one at this show you worked so hard to promote? Why did you just spend a quarter of your paycheck paying The Front Bottoms to play for 10 of your friends? Why do so many people not know how to be good digital citizens, or be responsible with their online discourse? Why did I get in the mud and participate at times? Comment sections stressed me out then and still do to this day. It is still obvious that the majority of Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomers do not have the first clue about how to handle themselves and have a civil discourse online with a stranger.

I look forward to a day where virtual discourse has evolved towards positive outcomes without bringing people down. Where we learn from each other in a peer to peer environment where disagreements are encouraged and seen as a positive so we can each grow. Where everyone treats each other with respect and discussions are comfortable and open. Gen Z and Alpha, you got this. Current generations have given you a guidebook on how not to treat each other in a virtual setting.

Now we’re 13 years in, still figuring it out. On July 2nd, 2021 we’ll drop our 11th SceneSC Sampler, a compilation of South Carolina music with a goal of introducing new artists and songs to the South Carolina music community.

Is the process of it all perfect? No. Will it ever be? No. Do we try hard and care deeply? Absolutely.

The past 13 years with this entity haven’t always been easy, but they have been rewarding. The compilation is perhaps the most difficult project we produce for me personally, and I think that has a lot to do with the type of person I am. For a month I lived with a sickness in my stomach from the idea of having to “cut” artists from the sampler. This lingering pit works to suck the fun out of the positive that you’re working to create and share.

This year we had 70+ submissions and narrowed those down to 30 songs. We put together a small team of listeners who contributed their time to help narrow these tracks down. Letting those artists know they weren’t going to be on the compilation affected me more deeply this year than at any point in the past. I don’t really talk about that to many people, but when I have this year it has helped. Today it feels right, to share the challenging parts of the process.

It also helps when artists are gracious and understanding like they have been this year from my perspective.

Last year when the pandemic hit, I cancelled the idea of doing a 2020 sampler. It wasn’t coming together, I was burnt out on music in general.

I felt a staleness in the music community that had more to do with me and where I was in life more so than what was actually going on in 2019 and 20. The site was only slightly active. At one point I archived every Instagram post and considered erasing it all. Keep 10 years of content on a couple of hard drives in an old Van’s box in the back of a closet.

I was overall happy with what I’d accomplished, but disappointed in myself at the same time. “What do you have to show for all of the time and personal money you’ve invested in this SceneSC idea over the past 12 years?” I’d ask myself. I could have made so many better decisions. I could have worked harder. I would dwell on missed opportunities. What’s a blog in 2020 anyway?

I know the pandemic saved SceneSC. The world stopped, no shows, no new music coming out, no FOMO from shows. The pressure of it all released. So much so that I wanted to contribute somehow.

In a wonderful turn of events, SceneSC partnered with Richland County Library, One Columbia, and Free Times to start a live video series supporting musicians through the pandemic. The CDC recommended no more than 3 people in a room together. In that case, we could have me with my cameras and 1 or 2 musicians… 1 or 2 Sessions. It landed. We’d do 10 episodes over the next month or so until things got back to normal. Over a year later, we’ve done 49 episodes, and our partnership’s paid out close to $15,000 to Midlands artists. It all felt and proved worthwhile again.

Filming close to one a week, it got me out of the house and introduced me to a slew of new artists. Our South Carolina indie rock blog, created to be an anti radio rock outlet, was doing something productive and diverse showcasing a wide array of talent. We were helping raise voices that needed to be heard.

I’m not sure what the future holds for SceneSC, but I do know that I love emerging technology and connecting people with common interests online. Sharing South Carolina music, both new and old, and doing what I can to shine a light on the creatives here. I also know that this whole SceneSC thing would not exists today without the help of so many others who’ve contributed their talents to the site over the years. It’s a long list of people, and I hope they all know how much they mean to me.

I went back to Archive.org to track down our first “About” section. Here it is. Of course I cringe now, but it’s cute.

DString on 03 Jul 2008
About Scene SC
I want all of SC’s talent in one place. If we are missing someone let us know.

Our goal at Scene SC is to bring light and life to the entire music scene is South Carolina.

First and foremost the creators of Scene SC are fans of music. We are creating this site because we believe that the current talent level in SC is incredible and we are trying to do our part in spreading the word.

Our current plan is to post CD and show reviews along with videos and pictures from the concert. We will introduce new bands that we like and spread the good word of South Carolina music.

(This website is obviously in it’s infant months right now, but we should have it booming before long.)

ABOUT THE CREATOR

I am David Stringer. I am a life long South Carolina resident and have lived the last 6 years in Columbia. Music has always been a large part of my life. I have played in a Bluegrass band, a Country band, a “Screamo” band, an “Emo” band and now an “indie” band. At Scene SC we will do our best to stay away from labels. I graduated from USC in 2006 and now work full time in Columbia. You will see me at shows. If you would like me to come to your show just send me an email and let me know about it. I wouldn’t even mind if you put me on the guest list :).

If you ever wonder what I listen to here it is.

“Honest Country Music from the Great American South”

Whiskeytown, Regina Spektor, Pete Yorn, Radiohead, REM, Paramore, Dashboard, Elliott Smith, Ben Gibbard, Emery, Anberlin, Brand New, Jack’s Mannequin, Iron and Wine, Ryan Adams, The Everybodyfields, Tyler Ramsey

All talented local artists, some more than others. I usually like nice people better and write about them more. So if you aren’t nice, I probably won’t write about you unless you are really good and I don’t have a choice.

On Friday we’ll release our 11th SceneSC Sampler. It features 30 artists in total, 24 of which are new projects having never before appeared on the compilation. The July 2 drop will be exclusively on Bandcamp, with the compilation arriving to streaming services July 9.

A summer sampler for your listening pleasure.

PS: Don’t forget to gas up your friends. Share a post, comment, shoot a text, do more than hit that like button. There are tons of ways to support a music community these days beyond a financial investment. Kind words are worth more than a few American dollars or Coin in the long run anyway.