Todd Takes On… Rock The Garden (Again!)

It is the topic that won’t die in the local music scene.

Today, on the Local Current blog for 89.3 The Current, programming director Jim McGuinn commented about the reaction to this year’s Rock The Garden lineup and to the ticketing policy for the show and the fact that it sold out in record time.

Some of Jim’s comments are pretty amazing, but of course I do have my reactions. (It wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t have reactions to things, now would it?)

First things first, the fact that Jim went out there to try and explain the whys and wherefores and address the concerns that people have about this year and The Current and The Walker’s thinking behind this years concert is a great step forward.

And I love the fact that they are planning on making changes to the ticket sale for next year by reducing the number of tickets available to purchase per member from 6 to 4 and having the on-sale happening after the full announcement. Both are very necessary changes and take out a lot of the gamble that people had with getting the tickets before the full reveal of the lineup. In fact, if they keep the Mary Lucia reveal show (which is a brilliant way to reveal the show) but release it at 5pm when the show ends, that would be great.

But that said, there was one comment in Jim’s post that sort of stuck in my craw. To quote the post:

Lastly, can we all just lighten up?  It boggles the mind to read complaints from people who are so angry we didn’t book their favorite act (who we probably did try to book).  I get it, but no one said you had to go. …

I get the point is that we all collectively shouldn’t take this situation seriously. But the fact of the matter is that The Current should want people to take this seriously. Most of the people who listen to The Current and are members of Minnesota Public Radio are encouraged to be super fans; to be the kind of people who plan out their concert calendars down to the second. When the fans are taking this announcement seriously and are so vocal in their reactions (on both the pro and con side), that means that you’ve got people actually giving a damn about what you’re doing. In other words, you’ve done your job well.

And (in hindsight) they may have managed to mitigate the antipathy towards this particular announcement by teasing the fact that the lineup was going to be more locally dominated before it went public. Or by reselling it at the gate as a celebration of local bands that are blowing up. Heck, get the Local Current crew (the blog, the stream, the Local Show) in on the act, even yanking them onto the announce show and say why local band X was chosen. It’s basically framing the conversation to what you want the audience to agree with you on.

This isn’t meant to be a knock on Rock The Garden, The Current, or anyone in particular. I am friendly with too many people involved with this to be mean. But it is an interesting discussion to have.

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