Being involved in the local indie music community for a several years, I often hear the same complaints from different bands year after year ie "The music industry is corrupted. Nobody will even show a minimal interest in young bands unless they have cash. Your talent, your music and your emotions don't matter at all. You need to hire a manager who will make you a rock star. People still trust what TV and radio feed them. People are not interested in attending indie gigs…", and so on.
Statements like these are so popular that often they sound to me like excuses for not putting in enough effort, or the lack of will to see the wider picture and a lack of willingness to try different ways. At the same time I can't deny all the problems in today's music world. However no problem has ever been solved by just sitting and beefing. Even if it sounds pretentious, it is still true - your life is what you make it. The same applies to your musical career and the only one who can make it work is you.
Recently I watched a documentary by Kenneth Thomas titled "Blood, Sweat and Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century". Of course it is a must-see movie for all the metalheads and post-rockers, but it's interesting for almost everyone fascinated with music as art, business and industry. Actually this is a story of 3 charismatic and influential labels, each with it's own philosophy, style and ethics. All 3 are founded by musicians and among them there are bands such as ISIS, Neurosis, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I'm not gonna spoil the plot or turn this article into movie review. Instead i'll just share a couple of things that are proved yet again by this documentary and by the experience of the labels and acts it is dedicated to.
DIY doesn't mean low quality. Each of labels mentioned above are famous for their physical releases. They treat CD and vinyl as art rather than a method of publishing and selling music.
DIY still means a personal and professional approach. In the case of indie labels only those founded and run by people who love and understand this particular kind of music can succeed and satisfy both musicians and listeners.
DIY is about hard work, complete dedication, being honest with yourself and others and loving of everything you are doing. Again, sounds a kinda pretentious but it's still a fact.
Therefore the main outcome of the story is that it's all about a community of like-minded people. Going back to the main point of this article, before blaming the industry, ask yourself what have you done to change things or to make an alternative. I'm not saying that each musician must start his own label, put in all their money and run a label as well as being something of a teacher in elementary school.. as Steve von Till from Neurosis does.
There're a lot of things you can start changing in your local music life right now. Find out who's playing where in your neighbourhood tomorrow night, get your friends, go and see your peers on stage. Talk to them after the show, look at their audience, plan some events together. It's so simple, isn't it? So why not do it regularly? The better your network is the more chances you can change things the way you need.