I seem to spend a lot of time online giving the music industry grief for its paucity of support for independent musicians. This isn’t something I’ve just discovered, it’s been something I’ve been concerned about since the last throes of punk, when the industry used to trawl the pub and club scene signing almost anyone who could pick up the guitar. Fast forward to today and just think for a minute of all the artistes from that era who either made it big, remained in everyone’s psyche, or we have lost.
The music industry has always favoured artistes they can make bags of money from. The musicians themselves get a very small slice of the cake as it gets gorged by distributors, agents, promoters, record companies, ‘management’, the main radio and TV stations (on and offline), reviewers…the list goes on, but I just got bored. The whole industry is way out of perspective. Multinational companies have been established to make money out of music, while the vast majority of musicians struggle on, some holding down a day job, others just constantly struggling to make ends meet. There is not much in between.
Every Sunday morning this year I have been listening to songs crafted by independent musicians. I call it my #SundayMorningListen and you will find it all over my @JohnWaldeaux Twitter page every week. I always listen to every song all the way through, because I like to think that other musicians would one day give me the same respect. Songs are often stories where the lyrics take you on a journey. They can be sad, uplifting, energising, emotional, encouraging, depressing, and other adjectives as well. Sometimes it’s the music that dominates and builds throughout a track, so if you don’t listen to the end you will never hear some of the gems that my #SundayMorningListen has gifted me.
There has rarely been a bad track, and sometimes it’s more that I don’t like a band’s style of music rather than the track being genuinely ‘bad’. These days we have at our fingertips some incredible, accessible recording technology, so great music can be made behind closed doors when fifty years ago it would almost certainly have had to be performed live in order to be heard. However, this post really isn’t about the technology because there are some sensational musicians and songwriters whose music is rarely heard, and which never charts or sees the inside of a TV or radio studio.
My #SundayMorningListen comprises music I have listened to for decades (some by major artistes), and new music I have found through social media followings; through community radio stations such as Music for Grownups, Folk Union, the Folk Pilot, Readifolk, West Norfolk Radio to name but a few; through Bandcamp, Reverbnation, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud etc… Today I listened to a mix of folk, folk rock, soulful acoustic, rock, and jazz funk. I bought some of it, because if I like it I will buy at least one track, sometimes an EP, sometimes an album, and sometimes the musicians have very kindly provided free downloads, which I download if I like them. I rarely buy music from major bands anymore, because they’re doing okay. They will afford their next meal, their fuel to the next gig, and put shoes on their kids’ feet.
So here’s my suggestion. Just once a month, either pick tracks to listen to from my #SundayMorningListen, other playlists, independent radio stations, or go and search out your own playlists. The golden rule is #ListenThrough. And if you like what you hear, share the music, go and see a band live… #SupportIndependentMusicians #IfYouLikeItBuyIt #LoveLiveMusic