We’re in a war. It isn’t fought with weapons, but with words and music. Pete Wentz said it best, “This ain’t a scene. It’s a goddamn arms race!” It seems like this type of music, whether you call it pop-punk, alternative, emo, or “the scene” (as I do) has, since it’s inception, been in constant conflict. Occasionally, the battle comes from outside sources, like when the media accused emo music of causing a young girl’s suicide. However, more often than not, the conflict comes in the form of civil war, as the separate aspects that make up the beautiful quilt of our scene forget that our variety is what makes us special. But neither of these scenarios apply to our most important war. It is against the most dangerous enemy we’ve ever faced. It is Live Nation.

I need to go ahead and make one thing perfectly clear; there is a war and Live Nation is winning. For those of you who don’t know, Live Nation is a global cooperation dabbling in every aspect of the music industry. About a year ago, they began offering 360 Deals to some of the world’s biggest acts. In these deals, Live Nation essentially control every aspect of the artist’s career. Live Nation releases their albums, manages them, books their tours (in Live Nation approved venues only), sells their tickets, and anything else you can think of. In an industry where artists are finding it harder and harder to stay afloat, these deals are, to say the least, tempting. Huge acts such as Jay-Z and Nickelback have already signed 360 Deals.

As more and more artists, venues, and record labels seek lucrative partnerships with Live Nation, one has to wonder at what cost to music are we allowing Live Nation to do this. And yes, we are allowing Live Nation to prosper. Thanks to the considerable throat hold Live Nation already has on the industry, they are able to offer special promotions, selling concert tickets for between $5 and $10 in venues where they would typically cost much more. I watched the blogs and forums light up at the sight of such deals, having e-orgasms at the thought of being able to see Blink-182 for just $7. Don’t they understand? Can’t they see what’s going on right in front of them? Live Nation wants to own music and we are idly sitting by and letting them.

Live Nation knows the music industry is dying. Like an oil-winged viper, or any other manner of scavenger, Live Nation is praying on the rotting corpse of mainstream music. They’ve started swallowing up artists, venues, and ticketing agencies. Once it becomes too pricey to put up millions of dollars for individual acts, Live Nation will start buying record labels, and not small ones either. You may think that doesn’t mean much to we here in the scene but wake up and understand we’re no longer sitting in the corner of the industry. Most of our biggest bands are signed to, or have their albums distributed through, a major label at some point or another. With all the imprints and collaborative deals between labels out there, Live Nation could acquire one large label, several smaller ones, and dozens of artists all at once. They have the ability to do so. They have the will to do so. It will happen.

What we have to do is start fighting for our lives right now. There’s not much any of us can do individually to stop the coming musical apocalypse. The only thing we can do is to take a firm stand right now. We don’t have the money or influence to stop Live Nation but we have our ethics, the very same ethics that built this scene in the first place. Let’s shed the fat. The scene will split in two; those who care about the ethics this scene is founded upon, and those who want to see Blink-182 for $7, no matter what it does to the industry. Those of us who want to be on the former, it’s time to get rid of the Blink-182’s, the Weezer’s, and whoever else chooses to compromise their ethics for easy money and easy survival. In the ancient days of the scene, those kinds of bands were called sell-outs. It’s time to bring that term out.

Make a choice now. You’re either with us or against us. I speak dramatically because it’s a dramatic situation. If we abandon the ethics in favor of supporting the sell-outs, we kill the scene. Shun the sell-outs, reward the scene.