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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