Are we trying too hard to save Floyd?

Free music on a Floyd Street on a Friday night.
Free music on a Floyd Street on a Friday night.

The debate this week over fees proposed for out-of-town musicians and regional or national acts at the upcoming Floyd Town Jubilee highlights how money is becoming such a dominating consideration and might threaten some of the things that have made the music scene in Floyd so unique.

Money, and fights over it, has a nasty habit of corrupting things that are good. It has certainly destroyed NASCAR, college sports and a number of other staples of Americana.

Can commercialism ruin Floyd? I’m not sure but it’s a topic worth discussing.

There’s no doubt that Floyd’s economy needs help. Too many people here barely scrape by and some are drowning in the current sea of recession. As one who burned through three hundred grand trying to start two businesses here I can understand the situation.

But are we trying too hard to mold Floyd into something it’s not? It’s a valid question. There’s a “branding” effort under way to try and create a logo, a theme and a unified “look and feel” to materials used to promote the town and county. A professional marketer will be brought in to run a planning session to come up with a polished campaign.

Floyd has a wealth of artists, designers and professionals who have worked in marketing. Would it make more sense to look inward and bring these folks into the fold and tap their expertise? Perhaps a design competition with local artists and designers to see if they can come up with a logo? The result could be more homegrown and cost less.

I’m not an expert at marketing or wise in what sells and what doesn’t. Two failed business ventures since coming here in 2004 prove that. But I am a Floyd Countian and I wonder if we may be trying too hard and if an effort with even the best of intentions could turn Floyd into a manufactured, commercialized parody of itself.

I hear the same concerns expressed by others in the community and when something becomes a focus of discussion it should become part of the public debate.

Floyd County is a unique community, one that has evolved on its own over the years. The music culture here defines the area more than anything else and that culture is based on musicians who play more for love of music than a desire for commercial success.

Now money has become a defining issue for many. Some musicians complain they get shafted on fees. Promoters say they need the draw of a regional or national act to bring in more people who will spend money with local businesses.

It’s a delicate balancing act.

A number of local business owners have spent considerable sums of money taking a chance on Floyd’s future. Their efforts, along with those who volunteer their time to try and make Floyd a better place to live, should be appreciated but we all need to be careful to make sure that an relenting pursuit of money does not destroy what we love about the area.

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10 thoughts on “Are we trying too hard to save Floyd?”

  1. Doug, do you know if there is a website that lists local acts and artists. There have been times I would have loved to book local musicians for a party ect but didn’t know where to go to find them.

  2. Doug,

    I enjoy your blog. They are always well-reasoned and thought-provoking. I appreciate your efforts to both enlighten Floyd Countians about needs and issues and for allowing potentially productive discourse. You are willing to place yourself in the public view at the risk of raising the ire of those who disagree or who might have more militant views on the subject matter. I’m not sure if we really consider the risks that bloggers take.

    At the risk of sounding like the spelling police, wouldn’t the first “to” in your headline actually be the word “too”? I’m not a grammarian (not by a long shot!) and could be completely wrong…just wondering.

  3. Doug, this certainly is a tender issue. Many folks have very individual vested interests in the future of Floyd….and what is optimal for some, may not be for others. And there are those like myself, whose main involvement is a simple passion for what Floyd County is….all on her own, without help from marketing firms and calculated designs. At the same time I have to be grateful for those who are taking an active role in the future of Floyd. Though some may feel the power of that future falls to too few hands…so far, those trying to guide direction are against big box stores, huge franchises and seem to desire preserving the natural culture and gifts Floyd has to share. This is wonderful.

    Still, I hope everyone moves forward with care. I do think we run the risk of over-commercialization. I do feel that Floyd is special because of the natural beauty and the incredible people who have chosen to call it home…. (And to all those who have spent love and money on your buildings, they are beautiful and much appreciated). But let’s not lose sight of what is really important…If we want to focus on what makes Floyd different it will not be the aspiration to be an upscale tourist town. There are plenty of them across the land.

    I challenge Floyd to dare to be different. Celebrate diversity. Paint the side of your building pink if you like pink. We finally have a mural in Floyd! Thanks Hotel Floyd for the lovely painting (and Rick Cooley)…let’s make more….Thanks Gallery 111 for hanging Wes’ somewhat quirky puppets outside. Thanks to the beautiful new market pavilion and to the Bell Gallery for their sweet little alley…and to many more.

    My vote would be to let the creative people of Floyd come up with their own logo, slogans, catch phrases…I am cautious of “branding”….how could we ever hope to fit a wild, diverse ever-changing community into a 2 line phrase or slogan….and once it’s done, it’s done. We’re stuck with it…and if we pay thousands of dollars for it, we’ll feel the need to use it…whether we like it or not. (and believe me I understand the concept of “identity” as a selling point). But I think we’ve done a great job so far with natural expression and free-flowing advertising. For me, this would be the best course of future action for attracting traveling folk to visit us.

    To close this and address the question “Are we trying to hard too SAVE Floyd?” No! Many towns have died right out when factories and industry closed. So kudos to everyone who has invested your hard work and money and love and caring to keep Floyd a vibrant place with unlimited possibility. I am a person who often sees many sides of things, which often leaves me with mixed feelings..but ultimately I am grateful and glad and proud and hopeful of our town, our county and all it’s beautiful people.

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