PHOTO: Shane Wynn

Akron Music Survey | What the Akron music scene really needs now is…

What’s this all about? Why you rocking the boat like this?

As we tried to rally as many local musicians as possible for the big photo shoot outside the library’s downtown main branch, we sent out a survey asking for responses to a lot of questions. Most were for our use in-house so we have an easier time writing about the bands that call the Akron area home, but… …a few were to get their take on the local music scene.

The answers to “What the Akron music scene really needs now is ________.” are really interesting. We pasted most of the responses we got, unedited and completely anonymous. There are a few repeating themes–exposure, publicity, more venues or more cooperation from venues, more fans in the venues, a venue like the kind we had once, etc. Some of the answers referenced The Devil Strip directly and others gave me ideas. 

I’m putting this out there now to keep the conversation going. As a friend recently reminded me, having the magazine is nice and all, but if we can’t help manifest change where it’s needed most then we aren’t doing our jobs.

Thanks to everyone who responded, and double thanks to everyone who made it to the photo shoot–especially to Shane Wynn for sharing her talents with us. (See more of her work here.) We’re going to have another get together on May 4. Watch out for details. 

In the meantime, here’s to music, live and local! – Chris H.

[su_box title=”The State of The Scene” box_color=”#e78411″]

Do you think there’s a real music scene in Akron? (103 anonymous responses)

Yes, definitely. – 47

Multiple scenes, yes. Not one single scene. – 26

Almost, we’re getting there. – 19

Kinda, used to be. – 11



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What the Akron music scene really needs now is __________.

  • Exposure [Ed. – This was mentioned by itself by six different musicians, and in more context several other times.]
  • The continued support of the fans who have made the scene so fruitful and cross medium promotion at shows, inviting artists, film makers, poets, and cooks to all cross promote their craft
  • More collaboration, events, festivals, benefits, etc.
  • We need a publication to really condense everything that is happening. Oh wait… you guys just did that!
  • More small (50-100 person capacity) non-bar venues. There doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to play shows that start before 10pm in a bar. Unless we haven’t heard of those venues… If you know of them, definitely tell us hah.
  • Support. Go out and support your drawers, painters, musicians. One must support local art because that is what brings people togeather and helps people learn and have a supportive community. When that happens we all benefit. Also going out and support local bars and restaurants is also important. The weak link is the support venues gives to bands. When you back the place from 9-230 on a Thursday night and get paid 60 bucks only strangles the artist from progessing and funding new projects and bettering the band. A music scene can’t survive without full support.
  • A wider array of support for original local music–from venues, bands, and fans.
  • A community online calendar so we can find out about stuff happening. Also, your magazine needed to exist for Akron, so thanks!
  • More people going to see bands.
  • Akron needs a really great venue that attracts a constant flow of relevant touring acts of different genres.  We need a new Lime Spider.  We need more people who pay to go see shows on a regular basis.  But to support that we need a population that isn’t completely broke all the time and tired from hustling to try and make ends meet.  To support that, we need better jobs in Akron.
  • Promotion, a fucking unity hub.  Genre non-specific
  • …a REAL music venue in Highland Square! There is so much foot traffic it sucks that the only places to play are snd rate corners or basements of bars.
  • …an outdoor venue (something smaller than lock 3 and more accesible to local acts).
  • …awesome in depth coverage of what is going on in bands, venues, etc for the Akron people…oh wait that’s you guys!
  • Fans, Lovers and maybe some cash when the gig is done.
  • “MORE MUSIC!!!! We love to hear new and upcoming acts and we fully support our local music scene!!!
  • a small network of clubs that are willing to pay a modest and fair rate for local talent to appear on their stages, with greater earning opportunity in relation to crowd size. There is an abundance of venues offering “exposure” or tips in lieu of payment. Playing for free, or even for beer, is cost to the bands. Fair compensation raises the talent level and enhances the quality and reputation of the local scene. There’s plenty of hidden talent because it’s too expensive for musicians to get exposure in Akron.
  • good promoters
  • a venue that works as hard as the musicians to bring the city music it wants to hear.
  • Money, Venues and Media.
  • Way more variety. Also, I’d love to see Rock and Classical musicians team up like they did decades ago and in the Post Rock bands of more recent times!
  • If we want to become a scene that is noteworthy and inspiring to the rest of the world, we need to encourage the musicians here to have their own unique styles and be adventurous, rather than play it safely within proven genres.
  • Venues that make the discovery of new music a focus, foster that environment for their patrons, and don’t relegate music to the thing that’s happening next to the bar.
  • A Musician’s Collective In Real Life & Online with A Live Venue That Would Support The Collective. Again, I Like What You’ve Got Going On Here!
  • Dedication and growth.
  • Exposure, support and for venues to be open to different ideas.
  • In seriousness it just needs constant awareness and more functions bring musicians together. These functions exist in open mic nights, porchrokr, art walks, first night, etc. but there is always room to grow. Music festivals and large scale events promote such an amazing level of cohesiveness among musicians and “civilians”, but they are a struggle to organize and fund. If Akron could get a quality one of these cooking, the trickle down would no doubt be impressive.
  • for the world to pay attention and accept its more to this craft then what they used to listening too.
  • Probably more Polka. But no, I think it needs more of a face but that’s not even right cause I can think of like 3 people I’d consider the faces of Akron Music… Nothing I guess then just continue to support each other
  • …more people to realize that Akron has an embarrassment of riches in regards to talented musicians and bands. It’s a little bit like people don’t know what they have here.
  • More bands need concerts throughout the week. Venues need to start searching!
  • to be shared with the rest of the world. That’s why I’m so stoked you guys are doing this! I know almost nothing about devil strip but I can just tell that you guys are doing this because you love the scene, and I’d love to help you achieve your goals. Keep it up, we’d love to be a part of your movement!
  • More exposure. The talent is there.
  • support from younger music fans, ones that can get out more often to support shows.—Bob
  • More clubs that actually promote their shows… but that’s getting better!
  • a manager.
  • Coverage, organization, inspiration, border breaking
  • One website or Facebook page that collects ALL of the weekly live performance venue schedules…  AND…  Selects bands and performers weekly to be previewed with their own YouTube video..  This website could even become a multi-channel internet radio station that folks can tune into to hear live performances from selected Akron clubs..
  • More promotion, classy venues.
  • More venues that care about putting on GOOD SHOWS for music loving fans. We don’t need another bar & grill where music is an afterthought!
  • Venues with lasers, fog machines, and umbrella drinks
  • Venues. Better venues, and diverse size venues. We have little for folks who bring more than 75 people but less than 500 people. Nor do we really have a good listening room for acoustic based music.
  • More people to come to shows.  It seems like everyone at shows nowadays is a musician of some kind.  Regular folks need to realize how valuable (and great) local music is, at least in NEO.  Also the previous point about bands forming one scene that will help anybody out. 
  • Unification and stability. One good venue/hangout place that makes all musicians feel welcome and gives them a chance to show their talents. This happens in Akron for short times, but never really lasts. We need a place we can depend on.
  • a venue that has live music every night of the week and that musicians and listeners alike can depend on.
  • …to embrace it’s Akron-ness. There’s a reason why the music world knows Akron.
  • More pop singers. Too many screamers, rappers and grungy blues artists!
  • Devil Strip to keep coming out regularly.  And an all-hours club that is friendly to musicians coming in and playing at all hours.
  • Promotion and networking. Let’s all come together to make Akron’s music scene what it should be.
  • Less tribute bands! LOL, OK tongue in cheek there! But it is very irritating that the tribute bands get all the attention and gigs at places like Lock 3. I guess it’s what the public wants (boy that is a sad statement) but we sure wish there were more opportunities for original and cover bands. A lot of the tribute bands performing are really bad (to be fair there are some very good ones as well) and rely on the tribute gimmick. Disturbing trend.
  • More of what it already has. Just more opportunities to play. A database or easier way of getting gigs for right crowd.
  • More outside gigs for original non-cover bands.
  • Opportunity
  • More venues and publicity for the bands that play.
  • Unity, some factor that could bring the people together to form a cohesive supportive scene.
  • A bit more New blood. An additional local radio station.
  • We need money! Just kidding… or am I? Weneed venues who aren’t afraid to pay their musicians. The more you help your art community by supporting our talents, the more we can support your business. We work hard to make music, it isn’t just us coming in and playing for 3 hours. Imagine all the hours of work that go into learning or writing 3 hours of material.
  • On a second note, a print station just for promo materials would be great. It would be awesome if it was a design and print room, where an artist could come, make a digital and printable flier in less than an hour and print it out for free, or for a small co-op fee. A copy machine and scanner for hand written fliers, and a dropbox to a company that would be willing to print post cards for a nominal fee.
  • It also would be amazing if one person came forward and was willing to design fliers for bands. Of course they would have to be paid, but maybe the designer would have packages like the “”Hey I just need something simple only takes a designer 5-10minutes to make, but takes me 4 hours because I’m a musician and computers hate me”” price of $5-10 or something. Or the “”I’ve got a big ass show and I need something awe-striking and original”” price of $50-100. Something along those lines would be nice, and whoever it was could run a free promo ad in your magazine! (Did I take it too far?)
  • Publicity and a spotlight
  • What the Akron music scene really needs now is to maintain this uprising motion. There are a lot of great venues opening up and we need to make sure they stay there.
  • Publicity! The biggest issue for listeners is knowing what’s out there and where to find it. With the din that social media can typically be, it’s hard to filter through the noise to find meaningful content. Having a trusted source with a specific, targeted focus on local, Akron music (and not just in a buddy-buddy, cronyism kind of way), that people can turn to for a quick digest of the goings-on in the area, will be an invaluable asset to local performers. Getting the word out is the hardest aspect of being a musician, and having outside help is an essential tool. Tooting our own horns about our projects is typically met with a grain of skepticism, and rightfully so as we have a self-serving bias, so having a third party spreading the word is far more effective in getting people to take notice.
  • More live dance music venues!
  • To be like the wolf pack… Not like the six-pack. -The Sphinx, Mystery Men
  • a local video promotional show!
  • Cool venues with local acts opening for regional and natlional acts at an affordable cover like the original Daily Double and Lime Spider.
  • No more pay to play: it exploits young musicians!
  • Busking
  • bigger audiences, probably.
  • More camaraderie amongst musicians and less competition.
  • The music scene in Akron appears to suffer from demographic segregation. I think a little integration would be good for all the players involved. The Akron music scene needs more venues than the toxic play-for-free places. That turns musicians off. And it needs more venues to promote original music as opposed to more free-to-play open mics, but real sets.
  • Akron needs its own community jazz orchestra.
  • The Akron music scene definitely does not need any more cover bands.
  • …people to come out and support local music. There are places to play, but without support of music fans, it’s hard for venues to pay much to the bands. And while it’s not all about the money, getting paid is important.
  • More underground venues.
  • more good paying venues for local musicians
  • A real, honest-to-goodness rock club that’s a little nicer than a dive bar, but also not attached to a wine bar. Something in the middle.
  • More festivals like Porch Rokr and Big Love that celebrate community.
  • You guys and your new paper!
  • People to come out and enjoy the music
  • For all of us to come together to represent Akron!!
  • someone else to break out to the national scene and expose Akron again
  • More audience members.
  • More people into seeing live music.
  • More audience members.
  • Your idea of having an “Akron City Limits” is a fantastic start!