Radar's recent recap of 2010 underlined one thing: a year is a long time in music. The last twelve months saw the Scottish music scene’s industrious beehive finally produce the honey it’s been promising. Bands broke; labels formed; ideas congealed; people danced. It was, without doubt, the year that capitalised on our nation’s steadily brewing potential.
So, where will 2011 take us?
Well, resting on laurels is not an option. While Glasgow’s musical boom shows little sign of impending bust, its east coast counterpart is fighting for its life. Over the past few months Edinburgh venues have been dropping quicker than Nick Clegg’s approval ratings in a student union. Financial mismanagement and poor decision-making is threatening to suck the lifeblood out of the city’s music scene.
Thankfully, a strong hand of Edinburgh bands and promoters are far from defeated. The meltdown of traditional venues has led to the rise of innovative alternatives. Gigs are springing up all over the place: houses, art studios, charity shops, churches. And these are no ill-thought out affairs – they’re professionally run, heavily attended and, most importantly, entirely independent. 2011 may just spell the end of the traditional gig as we know it.
Despite the DIY protestations of local scenes, a whiff of professionalism permeated 2010. Recognising a need for evolution, longstanding blogs turned managers and labels to the bands they’ve been championing. Others transformed their off-the-cuff musings into articulate reports on the scenes they’re involved in. Promoters and bands, meanwhile, seemed more eager than ever to espouse PR and media savvy in the digital age.
So this year, we wholly expect the musical underbelly to continue treading the industry rungs. More in tune with audiences than London-based money men and carrying more collective clout than many established publications, the growing gaggle of local entrepreneurs needs to drop the ramshackle shtick for a more polished edge. Like it or not, money makes the industry go round. What we need now is the right people making that money for the right reasons.
Unquestionably, the central belt is the heart of Scotland’s music scene. Realistically, it’s not that surprising – the area contains around three quarters of the country’s music venues, while longstanding labels and media outlets are predominantly positioned at both ends of the M8. But, believe it or not, there’s life outside Edinburgh and Glasgow. And by the tail-end of 2010 our inbox was increasingly filling up with propositions from bands, labels and promoters from Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and, erm, Stornoway.
Pushing into a new year, we’re hoping this trend continues. Sure, the thought of the next big hope deriving from somewhere beyond our comfort zone is intriguing for an Edinburgh based publication like us. But just knowing that scenes are sprouting up in towns and cities across the country is reassuring. The idea that new music, unaffected by central belt trends, is waiting to be heard is an invigorating prospect for 2011.
And finally, perhaps this is the year that eventually welcomes home an abandoned friend. In recent times, we’ve seen a swarm of electronically-tuned acts hogging the limelight, while the growing trend towards the comforting cradle of acoustic folk has continued apace. So where did our riff-throttling, sweat-bucketing, decibel-rattling guitar bands go?
At the moment, Dananananaykroyd and Bronto Skylift are the country’s bastions of eardrum assaulting clatter. But beyond these volumised flag bearers, there’s little sign of any high-end contemporaries rising through the ranks. It’s strange to say it, but somewhere along the line rock music fell out of cool. What 2011 needs is a band to kick down the doors and put it back in its place. Now, the big question is, who’s it gonna be?