No Zero-Sum Game

As readers of this blog will know, I’m a big fan of female-fronted prog bands such as Mostly Autumn, Panic Room, The Reasoning, Karnataka, Touchstone and Stolen Earth, all of whom form a definite ‘scene’. All the bands know each other, and the relations between them in terms of shared band members is so incestuous that Pete Frame would have trouble drawing one of his rock family trees.

I think a bit of friendly competition between these bands is a very healthy thing, in that it encourages every band in the scene to raise their game. But one thing I strongly believe is that it’s not a zero-sum game. All these bands are operating below the radar of 99% of the music-loving population. While they’re never going to sell millions, at least without watering down everything great about their music, there’s still a far bigger untapped market out there.  The number of times I’ve recommended an album and got “Where have this band been all my life” in response is testament to this. These bands’ competition isn’t each other, it’s the heavily-promoted mainstream artists, and all those bloody tribute bands.

It will only take one (any one) of these bands to experience wider success, and they’re likely to pull the others through in their wake. So it saddens me when I read fans talking of “blowing away the competition” as if there can only be one winner, and “their” band can only prosper at another’s expense. Leave that sort of blinkered partisanship to sports fandom!

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