It’s not always greener

A bigger city doesn’t necessarily mean more local music coverage

Being gainfully employed by an alt weekly, I'm inordinately interested in what other cities' magazines have to offer and generally make a point of picking up as many as I can get my hands on whenever I travel. Having just returned from a couple weeks in Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto, I'm freshly inundated with what other papers are doing, and man, I have to say, the next time an Edmonton musician wants to complain about our lack of local coverage, they should take a quick survey of what other papers in the land do.

In both Toronto and Montréal, it seems almost impossible for a local to even get their show mentioned in a brief or get an album review, never mind something crazy like getting a full-on show preview (though admittedly Toronto seems to be getting better at this than Montréal is, or Toronto itself ever was in the past). The idea of a band like Falklands getting on the cover, as happened here just last week, would be insane. (And, I mean, hell, there was an 11-year period when the Village Voice didn't put a single band on their cover, and I hear New York has a few interesting ones.)
Now, there are some reasonable explanations. Both Toronto and Montréal are major cities, obviously, and get a frequency of quality touring acts that Edmonton can barely even wave at. Still, though: they're the centres of a Canadian indie scene that has become one of the world's most vibrant. I'm sure Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene have no trouble getting coverage, but you'd think that those bands would also serve as examples of what their respective cities can produce, and their local weeklies would be more eager to find that stuff before everyone else figures it out, too.

I think the reasons for doing so goes beyond just moral arguments about supporting the local, too. The one advantage alt weeklies have over other forms of media that have been hurt by the web is their relatively local focus. Publications with a national or international mandate are obviously competing against a much broader field; why would I read the Journal's world news section, say, when I can read the BBC or the New York Times who have way more resources? The same principle basically applies to bigger bands: there is no shortage of information out there on Radiohead.

An up-and-coming band in your own city, though? That's basically a monopoly you can exploit, and if and when they break, you're essentially the only source of information on them. Local coverage just makes sense for us little guys. V

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