Now I've always found that anyone saying they don't like anything mainstream is prejudging commercial success to be negatively correlated with quality. And while the likes of 30 Seconds To Mars, The X-Factor and Lady Gaga might be a testament to that (at least for me), it certainly doesn't justify essentially begrudging someone success to bands who've garnered a massive following amongst people who get their daily fix of music from Radio 1, with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The xx and Vampire Weekend very much in the public consciousness now.
The most persistent, annoying accusation when one band suddenly breaks through to the masses, is that they're selling out i.e. they've sold their soul to the music devil for a slice of the corporate pie. In fact, when Yeah Yeah Yeahs came out with their incredible “It's Blitz” record, everyone hailed it as one of the best albums of the year, yet when many who have never heard of Yeah Yeah Yeahs before suddenly listened in to find out what the hype is about, the indie kids cried foul. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have apparently sold out.
That's the dilemma of the indie band. Much like DIY-punk, they're expected to make enough money to get by and make CDs and tour, but as soon as they spend on nice car or get a nice house with an HD TV, the band has become into what is wrong in all of the music industry. Greedy fuckers, these musicians, they say.
Not these punks
Indie/hipster kids blog about and champion their band every way they can, ruing the fact that many will never appreciate their musical taste, and wish everyone would love their favourite band as much as them. Oh why can't Band X be appreciated more for their musical talents? Why are the talentless hacks on MTV being worshipped instead of Band Y, who I've discovered in a pub venue before everyone else?
Oh, but when Band X does indeed become famous and perform on The Late Night Show With Larry Z, these kids cry in unison, “oh but we found them first! We are the ones with the only rights to listen to them on stage in front of 30 people!”
Which brings me to another major gripe I have with some of these so-called fans. The issue of downloading music.
I honestly don't believe that “one stolen song is one lost sale.” That's complete bullshit. And I do believe that many people who download music buy more music as well. But it does not apply to everyone. In fact, many of my friends do nothing to support the bands. There are people who leech on musicians, stealing their work, not going to any of their shows, or buy any merchandise from them and are clearly financially able to These people should never be given the privilege to listen to music at all.
Yes, many musicians are millionaires. But most are not. That band you found on that obscure music blog nobody ever reads (like this one)? They're probably loading their own equipment into a rundown rental van to get to their next pub venue a hundred miles away. They need your money. You don't get to fucking download their whole discography from a torrent just because you ignorantly think all musicians live in a fucking mansion with a garage full of Rolls-Royces. Most musicians are just normal people like you and me. Many are broke, just like you and me. It just happens that they're more well-known than most people like you and me. And like you and me, they work hard to earn a living.
Not every musician
I'll admit, I download some songs. So maybe it's hypocritical of me to claim the moral high ground. But I'm aiming that rant to people who download music and doing nothing to support the very musicians they claim to “love.” To ask musicians not to do it for the money and only do it for the love of music is a bit selfish of us. What do they live on then? Admiration? Adulation? Fame? Yes, those things might be good, but you know what's better than just those things? Having your music pay for that dinner you're having and the place you're staying for the night.
I can at least claim to buy quite a number of vinyl records, quite a lot of CDs (originals, mind you), go to shows frequently and some merchandise from bands that I love. I try and support these bands as best as I can, considering my financial situation as a student.
Over and out
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