Hey everyone! It's Father's Day. I was spoiled this morning by my wife and daughters with a delicious breakfast. Now I'm relaxing before we head to the lake for the afternoon. As I'm relaxing, I've got my trusty iPad pumping tunes out for me. And of course, it's as loaded with indie music as my equally trusting iPod is!
This brings me to today's impromptu post. I started to think back on the past few years of my indie music discovery, more in particularly the past year and the indie artists that we've lost. For me, the past year exemplifies what Don McLean sang about back in '71, because for me, the music has died somewhat.
Just this past year, we have lost three of the greatest bands to ever strap on a guitar or pick up a drum stick; Lit on the Flash, August Rising and You vs Me. These are just three bands within my limited (so far) circle of indie artists that I follow and support, but it got me to thinking about how many other bands/solo artists there are that have called it a day lately. Anyone who reads this blog or follows me on Twitter knows how I feel about the state of today's mainstream radio. There's no need to rehash that here, although I can not be held accountable for the words that will leave my fingers as I type!
Today's mainstream radio is chock full of acts that are hand picked by record execs to maximize their profits and line their pockets. Period. There really is no other way to describe it. Did you notice that I didn't refer to them as "artists"? In my dictionary, an "artist" first and foremost is one who exhibits originality and creativity. There isn't much of that going around the radio dial these days. Everyone seems so concerned with having crossover appeal that they turn their back on their own beginnings and hook up with acts from other genres and create train wreck after train wreck that end up on MY iPod thanks to me not turning off the auto download feature (thanks of course to my soon to be 11 year old daughter). EDITOR'S NOTE: I unfortunately do preview any song that my daughter asks me about buying. She gets, as part of her allowance, a $25 iTunes gift card each month. She earns that by keeping up with her chores and keeping her grades up in school, so I can't deny her the right to buy music with the money she has earned. I can, however, nix any song I deem as flat out crap or for having inappropriate content for her age. I frequently exercise those rights, by the way :)
I was asked once by a co-worker what I would do if any one of the indie artists I support happened to hit it "big". When I started supporting indie music, I never considered that question. After I was asked, I thought long and hard about it, and the answer is, not one single thing different than what I've always done. What those who aren't into the "indie scene" don't realize is that this is more than a fan following a band or solo act. We become family in a sense. Friendships are forged. I have had the pleasure to get to know several of these artists on a personal level and it's their friendship that I value above everything else. They exhibit the human qualities that, should their time come and they do hit it "big", will keep them the same humble, grateful people that they are today.
Bottom line, support unsigned artists. There's a reason I put that tag at the end of EVERY post on this blog. Without the support of their fans, these artists can't go on forever. There is no money from the big record execs lining their pockets. They rely on us to buy their music (don't expect them to give it to you for free all the time... it wasn't free for them to record it, so give back to the artists EVERY chance you get). They rely on us to show up at their gigs. I lost track a long time ago of how many miles I put on the roads of Maine and New Hampshire following Lit on the Flash around from town to town, gig to gig. Every mile is a memory that I will forever hold near and dear. One of the biggest advantages that you as fans have is living in the digital age we're in. Social networking can be a very effective tool for supporting your favorite artist(s), but you have to be willing to put in a little time and effort. Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, LinkedIn, MySpace (yes, it's making a comeback), Google+... whatever your flavor, use it to your advantage. We can't take back music if we don't all do our part!
DON'T LET THE MUSIC DIE!
Thanks again for taking the time to read my ramblings. These three bands are undoubtedly just a small sampling of the indie acts that we've lost recently. All of their music is still available for you to purchase and download online. DO NOT miss the opportunity to keep their sounds alive and kicking. Who knows, even though they've individually moved on to other projects, there always has been and hopefully will be a "who knows" mentality for each of them!
Buy music by Lit on the Flash on BandCamp
Buy music by August Rising on iTunes
Buy music by You vs Me on BandCamp
Support unsigned artists... give indie music a chance.