I took a walk in the popular downtown district of St. Charles last night with my wife. With St. Charles being a bit of a college town, the downtown area sports some of the best places to hang out and catch live music around St. Louis. It had been almost two years since I’d been down there at night, and I was excited to catch a few bands as we walked through.
As we walked past the crowded clubs, I noticed something big had changed since I’d last been down there. There was music pumping from the clubs, but it wasn’t coming from a band. Every single bar, club, and restaurant on the strip had a DJ. Less than two years ago, their had been at least half a dozen bands performing in these clubs. All of them were gone now, replaced by a single DJ with a laptop.
Emotionally, I have a hard time with this. How dare these clubs replace all those talented musicians with a single person spinning virtual platters? It’s outrageous that these places charging 9 dollars per vodka shot are too cheap to hire a real band for the crowd.
Then I realized what had happened. It wasn’t the club’s fault that their wasn’t a full band onstage, it was us musicians that were to blame. The bands that were playing down their were stuck back in the 1980’s, playing the same tired songs every night to an aging bar crowd.
Eventually, the crowd these bands grew up entertaining stopped hanging out in clubs and bars at night, and the owners had to find something that brought people in. The bands could have saved themselves if they’d been innovating all along: learning the new music, added a DJ or two to the band, and reinventing their older music so that it would appeal to my generation. They didn’t, and now they’re gone.
When the world changes, it’s already too late. The only way to keep from being outdated is to already be moving on to the next great innovation before the world turns upside down.