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Rising Tides Lift All Boats – A Primer On DIY Music

This is an important one that I think if we all paid a little more heed to we would all be better off. The idea that if we all pool our resources then we all profit is an old one but it’s one that people get upset about. It’s oftentimes limited by arrogance and people thinking that they can do better by just working hard. But guess what – no man is an island, especially not in music, and even if you are, why not share those resources you have developed so that you can build up relationships and productive communities? This is where I get confused, you so often find musicians, especially on the local level who don’t want to help everyone else. This ends up leading to a lot of frustration and leaving people not just aggravated but rapidly seeing their careers fall apart in front of them. They get nowhere because they don’t share the love. By not sharing the love they are limiting their ability to get favors done for them and wind up in a pit of self pity.

A perfect example of this is the stoner rock scene building up right now. Everyone just wants to be able to live the dream, to go out on the road and play shows with their friends. This isn’t a hard thing to do when everyone contributes. Even if agents don’t have enough time they are often willing to share contacts, other times if you can’t sign to a label then the odds are that label is going to want to interact with you over something else. Because of this we have seen bands able to rise out of the underground and tap into new and higher level resources. It is a textbook example of a rising tide aiding all boats. Stoner rock bands now take over SXSW every year because people just wanted to give back. Those people who gave back are now seeing their bands going all over the world and playing all the sickest festivals as a direct result of this. That’s a helluva thing to get to do because you cared about loud music a lot.

Of course the reason a lot of people don’t like to share the love is because that way they have an excuse for their lack of success. That is to say – if you aren’t getting access to any resources and don’t have anyone spreading any love with you then why should you succeed? Everyone is an asshole right? That’s not true. You are just refusing to take part in a community that has the potential to be truly productive. Yet some people would rather be in their own hole with their excuses than have to deal with the clusterfucks of day to day life that we collectively fight by sharing resources and trying to raise the tide. While there are certainly some peripheral benefits that people who don’t actively participate in the community will enjoy they won’t be able to access the full beauty of it because they never gave back in the first place. You get out what you put in, you can’t just use the fact that you don’t know anyone as an excuse. The internet is a thing. So prove that you have some sort of goddamn value.

I get the temptation to recede into yourself too. It’s so easy to just google shit and think that you are getting things done. You can figure out all the venues by googling bands you like, festival contacts through some personal info databases and go from there. I get it. But here’s the thing. Those venues are busy, they only care about booking with people they trust, they have been screwed too many times. Those festivals? Those folks are plugged into the scene and care about THEIR friends. Even with tour tips that you might read online, a lot of those are hard to apply out of context. What’s the best way to apply them in context? Making some friends who are doing what you want to do, what the next step is for your band and asking. I know that sounds scary, but guess what? If you don’t fucking do it you’re fucked.

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So how do you raise the tide in your community? Well simply by doing shit. This can take any number of forms, you can build resources like creating lists of promoters in your area or you can spend time booking shows for bands coming from out of town. You can create an Instagram account that highlights bands in your scenes or do what I did and have a blog. There are a ton of ways to give back, it doesn’t need to be limited to any one format or another. Even just commenting and being supportive of your friends online, sharing their bands and taking part in the relevant groups is going to get you plugged in to the community. This is how you grow. It’s just like it was back in the New York Hardcore days, we are fighting to grow our bands and the more we lean on each other then the sweeter it will be when we all start to make it and become known musicians in our own right. I know it sounds like a dream, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

So yes, rising tides lift all boats. So be a part of the tide. Don’t alienate people, don’t try and close yourself off. Instead embrace all that our weird and wacky community has to offer. None of this is hard, and most of it is fun. You get relationships that last a lifetime and peripheral benefits out the wazoo. This is how you grow your band, by sharing, by caring and by showing there is a mutually beneficial future going on here. I hate worrying about the future because all my fucking problems are based around the past, but so are all my victories, victories that I got through sharing and growing, helping the community. So help the community. It’s good.

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