"The Scene isn't worth saving"


Shawn Reyenaldo’s latest newsletter is a killer perspective on how we might seize the day and change electronic music, since the entire industry is in freefall.

There are many points, but this one stuck out to me.

Disengage with the international festival circuit

With very few exceptions, festivals are not compatible with underground electronic music culture. Our community loves to fetishize small clubs and dark warehouses, and yet our DJs are spending half the year on giant stages, playing abbreviated sets for half-interested crowds. And why? Because it’s profitable. That’s it. Festival gigs pay a lot of money, so DJs play them, despite the fact that festivals (and their requisite exclusivity clauses) are suffocating local scenes. How are clubs and promoters supposed to compete? They can’t, unless we take action.


If we are lucky, there might be some rethinking on how to organize a lot of things.

Music should be easy, stop trying to outgrow your own community just because it might give you a bigger cut.
We cant all live off taxing each other.

And in my opinion the same could easily be applicable for everything. Dont base everything on growth when your world is finite.

But more likely it will turn bigger and more growth oriented . . .


I also found this newsletter to raise a LOT of very valid points. I very much hope societies find a way to take this whole situation as an opportunity to question the state of things and reconsider the ideologies that were driving them.

Like you, I find there really is something to be discussed about local communities and how to nurture them so that they can become an eco-system that works for everyone involved. This can only be done by taking into accounts all actors of the community: artists, labels, record shops, technicians, light engineers, ravers, etc.

“Clubbing” is inherently rooted in the local. The moment clubs are advertising international acts more than locals, one could argue they become concert venues more than clubs. I wonder what mechanisms can be used to drive it back to something more rooted into “here”, even more so in smaller places where the amount of “slots” are more limited.


Preach! And when things get huge and global and corporate is when they get unrelatable, confusing, abstract, and corny!

There are so many examples of this. The Martinez Brothers came from NYC in the same ranks as Kerri Chandler, Jerome Sydenham, Dennis Ferrer etc. When I associate them with thise NYC scene and lineage, being kids from the Bronx, etc its easy to see their appeal, but when I see them playing at some absurd ibiza beach club its a real head scratcher.

I feel the same things when I see Dettman and Klock leave their local context and play megaclubs in other countries. Really bizarre situations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=404AVk4yVzw

I don’t fault anyone for trying to get paid, but something is definitely lost at the festival/club circuit scale.


Thought this was really interesting, thanks for posting. Some interesting proposed solutions too. I have found it interesting that the DJ economy seems to be booming but there seemed to be a sense of malaise around the scene, especially from producers.

This is only half-relevant, but I have felt less excited about new music recently, despite there being plenty of great stuff being released. I thought it might just be part of getting older, but there does seem to be a bit of a negative, depressed vibe around the scene.

On social media I see a bit of a split between producers who often either seem depressed & resentful, or speak in a kind of overly positive but not particularly convincing pseudo-influencer mode. DJs tend to have a “cooler” image, they’re often on Instagram posting videos of gigs, travel photos, projecting a more convincing kind of “influencer” image and glamorous lifestyle.

On Instagram particularly there’s a kind of positivity in the way people present things, but the undercurrent of competition for money and attention is oppressive and suffocating, particularly for ppl who haven’t become fully successful yet. It feels more like a competition to be able to escape from the drudgery of the “normal” world than a community where people find strength and create great art through interacting, collaborating, influencing each other etc.

There are obviously lots of economic and social reasons why we’ve become atomised and they are hard to counteract. But I think it would be a mistake to assume that the world will start to provide the conditions again for lots of community minded scenes to emerge and then grow and thrive. It’s something that is going to have to be fought for or constructed. Definitely not an easy task.

I’m being slightly pessimistic and provocative here. There are some signs of scenes and interesting stuff emerging, but increasingly they seem to be small micro scenes, or they peter out fast and the big names shift on to something more reliable.


great piece. i would like to think that what we are seeing is the beginning of pruning back of unsustainable growth and focusing on the heartwood of what made scenes strong through recessions past. a strong scene will pivot towards its core, musicians make music to reflect the times, hard times eventually mean hard tunes, once the dead wood is burned off. this is a time where we’ll see who’s really a lifer and who’s a poser. and the ones that need the medicine, that need to dance, that have to be involved will stay involved. solve et coagula.

our music was built in dark rooms alone by people who were social outcasts from marginalized communities. this is the strength of these times. everyone needs to go to their room and think about what this music does for us. everyone gasping for funds and streaming lived a precarious lifestyle before this. its very common these days to promote that. starving artists get attention. artists who invest in their community are cared for by it, but only if that community can sustain.

if you were jetsettng, thats all over now. if you built a studio, you’re working hard. You get a basic job and put nights in. Working class music was once the root of what was called underground. Nobody was full time, my elders were humbled to play a room, then they started growing tons of ganja and rode that wave. Time to tighten the belt and see who saved something.

i dont think the festival circuits and big clubs will survive. But what frightens me is that the streaming internet dj plaform just got a huge injection of capital and looks. In some ways the days of investment electronic music are done, in the physical festival and megaclub form, but in the digital its just begun.

i for one have been thinking lots about my relationships to Instagram, Spotify, Youtube and Resident Advisor. i’ve been spending more time on Bandcamp and this space. 555-5555 is truly a resource right now and i’m more devoted than before to fostering discussion here. the most difficult part is turning off my phone, opening the laptop, and removing all of my other notifications.

The London, Berlin, New York Axis is a super interesting take. Its where the money is. Maybe streaming set servers controlled by artist collectives can change this. Labels work best when they are rooted in one city, in my opinion. They then serve as a reflection of a true scene. Not a feed. I hope that this can begin a lot of soul seeking and collectivization that results in the return of the 300-500 capacity basement club or loft. I really want that. It would be even better if it were phone free and not advertised online.

I’ll be working in the Pacific Northwest of America. 5 year plans…I’m curious what you all think we can do to support local scenes in the coming years. also what purchasing, listening, and collaborative decisions as fans we can make that will make the scene better than it was two weeks ago. I’ve felt very disillusioned with festivals, stopped going in 2016. But even club nights have felt hollow, something i simply attributed to the RA Pick effect or the distraction of phones. I really want things to change and for 2023 onwards to be a new era…


yes, i agree very much. i’d like to think lots are having a hard think about what that fight and construction looks like in the wake of the lack of gigs and events to come.


hopefully this can be the beginning of that discussion. i feel like listening bars and food service cafes are a very potent model for cities across America, where I am. It would be great to hear where everyone’s from and what models they see for recharging locality in these music scenes! Any takers?



It’s like they gamed this out in advance, in anticipation of lockdown. This is disgusting but I’ll still participate, like everything social media. The fascinating tragic collapse I can’t tear away from. What a world.


This scene isn’t worth saving.


My view is that decent scenes come out of a decent social safety net, and the ability to rent living / working / business space at reasonable rates. Lots of 80s and 90s art in the UK where I’m from was supported by a Thatcher era fiddle of the unemployment statistics; ppl could get unemployment benefit (possibly a bit more) without having to show they were looking for work, as they could identify as sole traders doing music or comedy or art or whatever and get “enterprise grants” or something. The comedian Stewart Lee talks about it, and I think it might have been mentioned in a book I’ve been reading about bleep techno. Grime and other scenes were supported by councils spending on youth clubs where ppl could learn to DJ, MC, produce, do the sound etc. These are things that can be fought for politically, and should be.

In the absence of positive political change I think people will have to think about how to rewire their projects and brains away from social media, virality, the sort of open & offputtingly desperate desperation to draw people’s attention to you (I’m as guilty of this as anyone, always shoehorning my mixes into discussions here). Maybe new more collaborative “curator” journalism or streaming platforms to try and break the dominance of the mega platforms. Maybe a conscious effort among groups of producers etc to try and stay away from the “big 3” cities and try and make alternatives at home or in smaller cities and towns. For those who get big, try and avoid the lure of London (or whatever) success.

But again all these things are not made easy by external factors like high rents even in non-gentrified areas of the country. All I can say is people need to identify the things they feel are lacking and build some kind of alternative, somehow, however limited.


You make a great point about youth clubs and underemployed yet financially supported artists and musicians. I think in lots of the UK and US the after school program has been replace by the screen, either in the form of endless scrolls alone on IG or playing videogames “together” online. Spaces have always been crucial to building relationships. City councils and non profits have to be courted, engaged, and rallied to produce funds.

I think that’s where it begins, then moves into all age or 18+ spaces. Lots of afterschool programs could be both, venues on the weekends, places to make art practice and hang with creatives on weekdays, it’s just that social collapse due to phones has made it so that everyone has an escapist alternative in their pocket, so can’t be bothered to show up unless mom and dad force them to.

Or be influenced by the cool twenty something kids that actually mentor. I think as a 34 year old I’m looking for twentysomethings to mentor and learn from, those relationships have been demolished by socials. It begins by repairing how we talk on the street and in venues, in my opinion. I make a huge effort to engage people at clubs and usually get nothing, but every once in a while I strike gold.

This is a social skill, the art of conversation, that is a rarity in public these days. But youth clubs and afterschool programs for youth can be the gathering spaces for people to learn how to conversate again. We just need to carve out spaces, often with the help of rich kindhearted benefactors.


way off track here, but i actually wonder if this is real, like if there is actual data to support that “kids these days” are not able to conversate.

I’m 28 and my tendency is also agree with you, to self loathe, to assume our parents and grandparents were better, and assume that the internet is destroying us, but on the other hand, kids are still going through like 13 years minimum face to face education in the US. It’s not like they are not interacting in that time, and it’s not like they’re not making friends or not partying etc. And they’ll all have to do job interviews, run meetings, etc, bartend,etc so they will learn how to interact and hone their conversational skills.

(I know there is data that says millenials are having less sex, which is really wild, because the general narrative I was instilled with is that each generation takes us one step deeper into total depravity. )

But I’ve never read anything to support that millenials or gen z are actually stunted conversationally. There’s tons of anecdotes (most conversation IS mostly trash tbh) or symptoms (heads are buried in the phones) I could cite saying they are, but I am curious.


yep, affordability seems essential (I literally do not know how people in NYC are doing it. must have full time jobs and 6 roomates) but I would also add a large/diverse population is important. Smaller cities tend to struggle because there are just not enough humans to support fringe or niche shit at a scale that is interesting. You can have a punk show with 8 people watching in a dive bar anywhere (which will always be sick), but getting 100 clued-in people dancing to strange music a rave at 4am is a much bigger ask.


I can only speak from my experience, not any data or social science. My experience is that the art of conversation has devolved into an exchange based on comment like back and forth. People are not able to listen, to utilize body language and eye contact, and always have a way out - their phone. For me its not an age thing. 50 year olds do this too. Retired people lose their social skills when they don’t go out and talk to people in their community. I think my point is that chance encounters with generally balanced and nice people only occur when the space those encounters happen in provides set and setting. the word safe space is thrown around far too often, but there’s something in that phrase.

To me what made a scene a scene was entering a space and knowing these were MY people and they were strange and fucked up and intellegent and off but they were MY people and it was going to be an incredible adventure to socially connect with them as i danced and rolled face and found my zones. To me, that’s what raving in its purest noncomodified sense was (and can be) all about. It can only return if this scene dies a bloody death, imho.


Lots of good points here!

I would like to add that I think the concepts of scene or music scene might not be the best way forward. It was a tool to give people something to gather around, now its more of a tool for showing what click you want to associate with . . . but it has narrowed into just music. Or just one small part of music.

A better way forward might not be a “music scene”, but something to bring people together, with music and all the other bits that humans want to be a part of. (Conversation, food, style . . .) A lot of people dont care that much about the music, more about the goodvibes.Most music scenes now seems to have some kind of purist ideal that “we are all in it for the music”. Makes no sense to me. Ignoring a lot of other aspects that make people feel good.
Home alone I can be all in it for the music, out among people im all in it for the group fealing, but the music is still very important to me.
And here I would point a finger at how “club culture” is portrayed as the origins of music culture. And some clubs have the background of people getting together to make it work for us. (They usually dont last very long)
Most clubs though just want to be on the latest hype and bring in all the cool happenin people.

Lets remember that jazz, funk, hiphop, techno and so on, always started in someones livingroom, park, backyard or an abandoned warehouse. Anywhere you got left alone without too much organisation.



Replying to the older posts: reposting this Sim Hutchins video cause its messages are even more relevant as time passes.

“An EDM revival [with] heavy finance and expenditure”…
“and ultimately that was not sustainable, again”.

Admittedly, I come from a safe town in California where there’s no “music scene”. The only “club” I was ever in were lacrosse summer leagues and marching band practice camps :joy: Actually I went to my first legit music event late 2018 when I saw Brockhampton.

While the internet is a curse and a blessing with social media drudgery and info & resources respectively, it’s ultimately where we’re in charge of what we want to consume. This quote from a Yamaneko interview really stuck with me:

“…sure my attention span is utterly destroyed, but I’ll take forgetting what on earth I was trying to achieve on Chrome tab number 27 over letting my view of the world be shaped by whoever happened to be born near me. Fuck that. Online you can connect to people all over the gaff who have shared similar experiences as you, or wildly different ones that you can either learn from or live vicariously through – whatever, the point is that you’re in control. The online world is extremely important to me and a real potential tool for good if people weren’t such dickheads.”

My middle school & high school self was definitely tuned in with what I was searching for on the internet on my own pace and time and I’m grateful for that. But at the same time my stupid HS freshmen self thought to myself “I’m not a real fan of dubstep cos’ I don’t own a subwoofer or go to events on the other side of the world”. But then those thoughts faded away, because showing support through listening and community interaction is enough to show you’re a true fan. (i’ll end this post here before it sounds like an overdue post for the Your Musical Origin Story thread)


I think this is very important, a culture is a culture because of a mixture of elements that we as humans need to feel a part of a community. Social elements are very fractured, and it’s quite possible that the after effects of quarantine will be less in person events and more screen based isolation. I already see people around my community developing an OCD mentality, feeling uncomfortable around touch and anxiously overthinking interactions.

This was happening before Corona, and it seems to be escalating as a result of increased media, screen time, and government policy calling on people to self isolate. This, to me, speaks to a time in the future where simply gathering, dancing, hugging, sharing meals, talking and being intimately close will feed something deeply human in us we are all deprived of.

Anyone who can root this in a space or locality with artists and creators that hold some form of regularity and sustain themselves financially will reboot a scene. I have no idea what the future will be like, fuck I don’t even really know what is going on right now, but I have a sense that the sense of nostalgia we all share for 70s, 80s and 90s era scenes ( and even 2000s raves) comes from an innate understanding that what we presently have is nothing near as viscerally real and meaningful to us.

Which can lead us to construct something that is. Let’s keep talking about this.


You’re damn right, exactly my experience too