When it comes to the indie music world, I operate under a simple M.O.
Everybody supports everybody.
Independent musicians, radio hosts, bloggers, photographers, producers and supporters already face an uphill battle. The music industry has certain measures in place to ensure that they control the narrative of what’s best for business. It’s no secret or surprise that certain artists are pushed to the moon, while others and their genres – who else is sick of hearing, “Rock is dead?” – are downplayed as insignificant. As time has gone on, and depending on your market, terrestrial radio play and mainstream publicity has become more difficult to come by on a typical indie artist’s budget, and much less opportunity is often the result.
So, the indie community and the internet prides itself on being the counter-culture; the foil to the mass-produced, overly processed content put forth by “the machine.” This self-proclamation is well-intentioned, sure – however, the catch is that the indie community will never be an effective counter-culture if everyone involved doesn’t work together.
Yet, there’s a sense of competition that permeates the indie world, with internet radio stations that all claim to be #1, radio shows and venues who close their doors to certain genres, and artists who, at times, arrive to a show, play, and leave, without so much as a second thought to get to know the other bands sharing their bill.
In a world full of social media noise and clutter – from branded content, to that aunt who shares every sassy Minion “quote” she can get her hands on – your one band, podcast, blog or venue will not bring about change on its own. A movement to point the “noise” in our direction requires strength in numbers. Therefore, we should not only look at our places in the indie world in an individual context. Instead of focusing on being “number one,” we need to look at the people around us – regardless of genre – and determine how we can raise up together. How can we, as a united community, fight for and achieve more relevance – and how can we do so while achieving a balance between individual and group success?
For starters, I suggest that you check out some artists you don’t yet know. Buy their music and go to their shows. Uncover things you like about different genres, and expand your horizons. Find some indie music media – radio shows, podcasts and blogs – and start to follow them. Reach out to the folks doing the work, tell them how much you appreciate what they do, and spread the word about it. Use your platform – whatever it is – to strengthen the indie community into a force to be reckoned with.
It’s going to take a village – here at home, and the world over – for our vast music community to get the respect it deserves. Don’t be a village of one.