Do Things for the Better?

Submitted by Cashbox Canada 

Sometimes I just wonder if we are doing things for the better? We try to include things that really do not want to be included or actually fit in. One of my early memories of this is from my early DAYS in the music industry.

That was a long time ago. It was when my friends and I were going to a youth center in Sweden. These centers were run by the government and were very common, unfortunately, most of them are gone by now, and a big reason why the criminal lifestyle is on the rise in Sweden. Anyway, the one I used to go to had a room where they had an old drum kit and a guitar and bass. They were really shitty, but you could say it was like a rehearsal room. That is where we started our first bands. We really didn’t know how to play but learned while we were there.

Every Thursday and Friday were rehearsal days, so all my friends went there to play around with the instruments. It was a hangout, instead of being out on the street doing nothing or getting in trouble we would hang there playing music and listening to music. And we were all there. People from different grades, boys and girls, punkers and hip-hoppers, immigrants, and Swedish. We were a happy bunch of people hanging out and making, of course, a lot of noise.

One day when we got there the staff told us that we couldn’t hang out there any longer. The time we used to have on Fridays was now only for girls. We really didn’t get it, why should it just be for girls? The girls were hanging there too. They could play as much as the rest of us. The answer was that we were taking so much space that the girls didn’t have a chance to grab the instruments and play as much as they wanted to.

Ok, I admit of course we always fought about using the instruments. Still, it was not that we didn’t let anyone in. If someone really wanted to play they would get the chance to play. It was not a place for a quiet and shy kid.

What to do? We were thrown out and were just hanging in the boring part of the complex for that Friday. Many of us were really angry and we planned a really silly strike the week after to protest against this unfair decision. During the next week in school, I was talking to a friend that went to another youth center about the problem we had. He just laughed and said that they had found a new place where another government organization had a rehearsal room where you could actually rehearse twenty-four seven. They had fully equipped rooms and better instruments, and the more you rehearsed the more time you got in their studio to record professionally. The best of it all, no adults were around in the evening or nighttime.

This was the best ever. We just went to this new place and start hanging there. To be honest,  I actually never set my foot in the youth center ever again. For the rest of my teenage years I was hanging in that complex. It was here I learned how to play bass, it was here I took singing lessons, it was here I studied to become a sound engineer, it was here I recorded my first songs. And it was here I meet interesting creative people from around the city and we had huge parties with no adult control whatsoever.

So what happened with the girl’s rehearsal time? No one used it. In fact, the girls were not interested to play those instruments. They were hanging there because they were in love with one of the cute guys. When the cute guys went over to the new place, they followed. That was also for the better in the new place they, in the end, formed a band.

Today I don’t still understand that stupid decision. In reality, they just made it harder for them to control what we did. The second thing was it destroyed something that actually works. My whole life has been this way. I find something and then it’s destroyed in some way and I just have to find a new path that is usually better. Not all people are like that and I just wonder how many things we have lost to stupid decisions.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.