Underground music in all of its forms is important. I know that I’m obviously a metalhead and that dictates a lot of the music I put on this blog, but I want to come to you today preaching a more egalitarian message. I want you to realize that no matter what kind of music it is, at least people are contributing and it’s this sense of equality that is going to save us all in the music industry. This is something that your band needs to realize as you navigate this screwed up world. You need to realize that it doesn’t matter if its a rap show or a death metal concert, it all comes back to the same core principles, and everything that you do on the underground is important – no matter how you feel about the music. If your band isn’t actively trying to support the underground then you are going to find yourself on a long road to ignominy and be unable to find the opportunities that so many of your peers will be able to grab by the horns.
This music matters because it is egalitarian. It allows everyone to access these super cool and vitally important resources. It shows us that there is a path forward through all of the pain and that we can have triumphant experiences with just the several hundred people who care about this kind of music in your area. From there, of those several hundred people at least a few have connections to more major events and that means suddenly your empowering experiences will be able to reach out and impact so many more people beyond that. The underground is the basis of this entire industry. Pretty much everyone in a position of power in music came from an underground scene or has rich parents – you probably are going to want to belong to the former category. In an industry that has a lot of gatekeepers the underground is beautiful because it says that anyone can join, and anyone can be a part of this greater thing we have woven together.
One of my favorite booking agencies in Europe is called “Sound Of Liberation” and at the risk of sounding like a hopeless romantic this is what I love about underground music – it is the very sound of liberation we have longed for for so long. It’s the sound of a group of young people who for years now haven’t wanted to play by the traditional rules of the industry. Sure those rules make sense when you crack through, but you need something to get you there -and the only way to really do it that isn’t totally shitty is to take advantage of the underground and work together to create a potent future for your band, but also helping the entire scene to rise up around you. There is a reason you have that famous image of a hardcore band playing a packed show at their local VFW for the last time before going on to tour the world. We all contribute to the underground and every victory by the underground is a victory for all of us.
Be wary though – the underground certainly has its downsides. One of the main ones is that it has an unfortunate tendency to destroy ambition. There are a lot of people who take part in the underground who simply believe that it doesn’t get any better than this. They get caught up in the nihilistic misery of playing in a band for four years and still only being able to draw three people on a Friday night. There are a lot of reasons that could be the case, but at the same time realize that a lot of bands do manage to draw massive amounts of people in their local scene. There is always a future regardless of what your peers might say. It’s hard though a lot of the time. People genuinely view the underground as just something you can grow out of and a silly bullshit pastime for college kids. In many ways it is, but you also need to embrace the brutal realities of it all and realize that this is how you are going to get ahead in the industry.
You may doubt me, but let me assure you, I have high ranking friends across the music industry who genuinely love going to basement shows. Be it the editor in chief of Noisey, the guy at the head of a major rock label or even the heads of significant PR companies. There are a lot of people out there in important positions who realize how much this matters. If you think you are too good for the underground then fuck you. You need to embrace what it has to offer, the demented realities and brutal nights, it is the only way forward. The music industry revolves around the underground more than ever these days – after all – why do you think everyone from Baroness to Green Day has been playing shows in significantly smaller venues than usual in recent years? People are connecting back to the underground and trying to help make this entire thing run a bit more smoothly and invest in a better tomorrow.
So yeah, it’s an industry of cool, but the only place where we are able to see through the bullshit is in dingy basements and dive bars where no one really cares in the first place. We need to embrace the darkness of the music industry and see that it’s all about tomorrow, not today Sure many of us are just chasing a dream, but when it works out, it’s empowering for the community because we got their by working with the community. We’re all in this together, so embrace the weird and oftentimes seedy underbelly. It teaches you everything you will need to know about this world and gives you friends and experiences to last a lifetime.