Dear Unsigned Band,
I don’t think I can care anymore. Trust me. I tried. I wrote about all your shows. Covered your mediocre records. Showed up early to watch you perform a crappy set using your buddy Jake’s kit. I even told you your band was pretty good. It was fun for a while, I felt like one of these bands would eventually make it big and I could say “I knew them when,” I think it has to end though. I’ve given you a chance to change and while some of you certainly have it’s the overall mediocrity that has alienated legions of fans. The worst part of it all? It’s not me, it’s definitely you.
I know I sound pretentious and I know that all my favorite bands started as unsigned bands and like I said, a lot of you are fine. The issue is the group of truly awful ones who are ruining it for everybody. Its the ones who show up late and are impatient with touring bands who make me want to give up on you. It’s the ones who don’t bother to set up any merchandise and then whine about how its impossible for a band to make money these days. It’s the ones who seem to dedicate half of their set to cringey stage banter and who hammer their pseudo political message down your throat. Oh and please stop crying about pay to play. Either boycott those shows or just suck it up. It’s not complicated. In other words, it’s the ones who simply aren’t with it who make me want to leave you.
You might be asking “How do I get with it?” and to be totally honest I can’t tell you for certain. From what I’ve seen it just comes from hanging out with touring bands and being down to do whatever you can to help them. That is, and always has been the best way to learn how to support your scene. Eventually these attitudes are going to start merging into your band and will help you build up a better tomorrow. You wonder why you can’t get on the cool shows but then you don’ try to support the scene, you’re just not doing yourself any favors.
The problem, my dear Unsigned Band is that too often you think it’s all about you and it’s not. Too often you expect the world to bend in your favor just because you happen to be in the band, but guess what, it won’t be. Even though things are changing, the band is still frequently at the bottom of the food chain financially, and until you start making an effort to change that with whatever model your own group chooses to follow, then you have no right to complain about it. The music industry is about the fans, not the bands. So we don’t want to see you do a ten minute final song, or put up with your stupid antics, we just want to see you put on a tight show and then get out of our hair.
I’m not totally against you Unsigned Bands, in fact it’s easy to see why you’re important to me. Some of my favorite bands in the world are unsigned. You have a very important place in the scene, even if a lot of people don’t want to admit it. I’d argue though that you need to get to know your place a little bit better, because when you overstep your boundaries people get a little pissed off. Some of us put up with a dozen of you a week and do our best to support you, but after a point we are going to start to crack. If you’re going to expect the undivided attention of people at your shows then you had better be giving 100% and then some. Then maybe just maybe I can enjoy your company properly for the first time in months.
I believe in you Unsigned Bands. I have so much faith you couldn’t even begin to comprehend it. It’s just that you routinely disappoint me and make me wonder why I even bothered in the first place. Give me something to dream about, give me a path forward and a reason to want to fight. You are the foundation of the musical world and there is a lot of responsibility on you, so you might as well act like it. The harder you work the more people are going to want to pay attention to you and the more likely it is that one day we can end up back together. I believe in you Unsigned Bands, the real question is do you believe in yourselves?