This is one of the most important things to realize about the music industry, there is a network out there of ‘good dudes’ who have similar ethics, beards, sub-poverty incomes and an unwavering dedication to the music. Note that good dudes can also be dudettes, but they are of course limited by their lack of beards. (For those about to send me death threats, that was in fact a joke) People don’t seem to realize that this network exists – that it’s people who genuinely care about each other and who are fighting to help build a better tomorrow. Tapping into this network and being a ‘good dude’ yourself is a great way to fight for the music industry and allow everything to grow. While yes – the mainstream music industry is dominated by assholes and pieces of shit who just want to make a quick buck, on the independent level it’s the good dudes who work hard in order to craft something better, and they are the most important people in the world to market and promote you music towards.
What defines a good dude? Asides from the fact that they apparently all have beards, there are a few other things that you can watch out for. Your typical good dude plays in a cool band that has toured a lot but has had limited success for whatever reason, and odds are they either work as a sound guy back home or have a frustrating dead end job that they do to pay the bills for their music. Some of the truly good ones have sick jobs as engineers or doctors, allowing them to clear six figures and thus really take care of bands when they come to town. Good dudes are the dudes who only really care about the music and they have kept the independent industry going with their contributions, know how and dedication to the scene. If you want to succeed you need to be able to connect with them and work with them in order to grow your band. As it happens though – pretty much all good dudes know each other and getting plugged in with a few of them plugs you into the music industries oldest social network.
So how do you get connected with good dudes and build up a better future? Being a good dude yourself certainly helps. God dudes tend to be able to sniff each other out and figure out who has some clue as to what’s up. That’s not the only way to really do it though. The way you need to do it is to create something of substance that shows you work hard. Good dudes give up to much of themselves for this music to want to mess around with people who aren’t 100% dedicated to this and proving it with their actions. They are willing to give up a lot more than they get out of it, but they can’t really be bothered to do that if you’re just sitting around with your thumb up your ass. I know that sounds crass and you are doing all you can, but realize that these people give up thousands of dollars a year and many hours of sleep for other peoples bands. I know it doesn’t seem possible that these guys exist, but they do, I know them – they are simply in it for the love and the community, the same reasons that you should be involved.
I know it can be hard to want to dedicate that much of your life to something. Believe me, it’s been a process for me to get to where I’m at in terms of constantly letting bands crash and cooking for them and getting them shows. It’s not fun to always be giving it up for the scene and the far off goal of this eventually paying off for your own band but it’s the best way to find your own path forward, by giving back. Nothing you do on any social network is worth anything if you’re not out there actively supporting the scene as a whole. If you’re not showing with your actions, and not just stupid social media posts, that you care about the music you are involved in. Social media can only do so much, it’s your actions and words that make people see who you truly are and that really establish a brand for your band. It’s about being able to appeal to the people who have well trained bullshit detectors – these selfsame good dudes – and using that as a litmus test for your own legitimacy.
It seems fitting that the best form of DIY marketing is the same form of marketing that has worked for us for most of the twentieth century. It’s about being legitimate and honest – not just another poser trying to milk the scene. The people who are going to be doing you real favors want to be catered to. They want specialty packages from kickass labels, t shirts from touring bands, and generally just to know that they are spending their time and resources on the right people. You innately know how to be one of the right people, I’m sure of it, so use that to your advantage. It’s just a matter of hard work. The network of good dudes that we see out there is fundamental to the future of the music industry because those good dudes provide the essential backbone we all need. Any capitalist society is based on some form of cheap labor or volunteer work and our good dudes provide that for us. That needs to be respected, not taken advantage of.
The music industry is a really hard thing, and knowing how to handle your marketing and PR is very important – but if you aren’t marketing to the people who have a tendency to get well and truly invested in the music then you really aren’t doing yourself any favors. It’s not even that hard to be a good dude, you just need to be committed to showing up. Music promotion has always really been a question of being able to make the right sorts of friends and getting them sufficiently invested to want to help you out. Most people fail to want to show up and be an active and driving role in their scene and then wonder why no one cares about their band. So keep on pushing, embrace the good dudes and reward them justly, for they are king.