Over the course of my 4 1/2 years living in Madison, I have learned this place is stuffed to the brim with truly great music makers. The creative community here seems, for the most part, much like Madison itself: very grassroots, DIY, locally-sourced, organic-fair-trade kind of vibe, etc.
When I’m hanging out with my music friends, I often talk about how great it would be to be a thousandaire as a musician. How great would it be if, after all the rent and bills are paid, I had $1000 in my bank – and all I’m doing is making music?! Shit! Why the hell are we all shooting for the fame-n-fortune thing, when we could easily be thousandaires?! And anyway, most of us know that being in the big mainstream fame-n-fortune world means becoming a product and sacrificing a lot of creative control. So my heart says, “Fuck the fame-n-fortune thing. I’d rather make my music raw and unfiltered, maintain total creative control of my Art and all things related to it, sustain a simple lifestyle just making my music.”
This is a legitimate, tangible, attainable goal. A REAL possibility.
For my part as the Artist, it takes focus and determination and love for my craft; it takes a lot of time and energy and resources, a certain degree of self love and care, and a building of an internal support system within myself to carry me through to an “I GOT THIS” mentality. As a self-supported, self-managed, DIY Artist; it’s up to me to not only be always be on the path of ever-evolving my Art, but it’s also my responsibility to make sure the music as a whole is getting the support that is needed; that the music is hitting the ears of folks that dig it, and hitting the ears well, getting out there as much as it can, finding the flow and the people who are in it.
But what can we do as Listeners of local music to really support our local DIY Artists? In truth: A FUCKLOAD.
There is SO much we can do to support not only local musicians, but the local scene itself. If you come across a local Artist that you really love and you want to support them, there are so many simple-yet-powerful things you can do to help provide a support system:
GO TO THEIR SHOWS – Just do it, get some live music in your life, it’s soooo good for you. Madison is fucking awesome for live music happenings, there’s something here for everyone. And you’d be surprised at how much you can find for free (even if there is a cover, it’s usually only $5-7 on average). If there is an Artist you really love that is playing a show, and you are free for the evening and can spare the $5, just GO. They will be so grateful you did, trust me. Your attendance is everything, you are the Listener: you walk into the place and you give your $5 monetary support, you get your drink at the bar which supports the venue, you place your body in front of a kick-ass band, giving them your eyes and your face, giving them someone to tell stories to and make noises at and practice on. And you in turn get exposure to great live music. Go to shows, it’s just good for everyone. Bring friends.
BUY THEIR STUFF – I realize this one is tough sometimes, especially if it was challenging enough to pay the cover and buy the drink. I am both a local music Artist and a local music Listener, and I don’t often have the money I need to support MY music, often leaving me with little to go back into the music community. However…it’s really not that much. You definitely don’t have to drop $25 on a t-shirt if you don’t have it; but most local Artist’s cds are around $10, some are $5, stickers are often free (and sticking em on your car shows your love for this band is mobile!), and even just tossing a few bucks in a tip jar for them can make a difference. If it’s an Artist I truly love and support and I’ve got the few bucks to spare, I’m at least giving money in the tip jar and telling them how much I love and appreciate what they do. There have been plenty of times when I’ve had to pass by a musician’s merch table because I felt I really couldn’t afford the $10 for their cd that night – but, there have also been several times when I’ve seen an Artist that moved me so much, I have happily given my LAST $10 to get to take that music home with me (even borrowed the money from friends a few times).
“LIKE” THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA STUFF – Simple as that. Make sure you not only “like” their facebook page, but share it. Use the “share” button on the page, don’t just copy the link, because under that “share” button there are options: select the option to share it to your page, AND select the option to “invite friends”. This is so simple yet powerful, and takes such little time and effort on the part of the local music supporter. You have reach in and outside of Madison – your connections and reach will strengthen the local crowd for the bands and Artists you love, but you also become a gateway for establishing connections outside of Madison. By connecting and sharing, you essentially help expose them to a national audience, instantly.
LISTEN TO THEIR CD – Sounds kinda weird, right? Trust me, there are times I have bought a local band’s album to show them support, and then literally never took it out of the packaging. I think this happens with a lot of us, for whatever reasons. But take the time to actually play the album. If you end up not diggin’ it as much as you thought you would, think about who in your life might really dig it, and then gift it to them. ALSO, if you’re a local show-goer, you know how rare it is to actually understand the lyrics clearly in a loud bar with a loud band with semi-shitty sound gear. Listening to the album gives a chance to really take in the stories of the songs, to curl up and Discover on your own time, in your own environment. It’s an opportunity to really fall in love with the music, not just the band. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people talk about really listening to my lyrics only after they brought the album home, it’s pretty normal in fact.
SPREAD THE WORD – Tell your friends and family about it. Share their music with others. Share their shows on your facebook page and encourage people to go, even if you yourself can’t make it that night. Help the Artists make flyers and pass them around. Have Listening Parties and let them play shows in your living room. Do what you can, anything you can think of, to spread the word that there is some great music being made.
Many of the musicians I know aren’t seeking to be “discovered” or to become rock stars; they simply want to make their music and share it with others, and hopefully sustain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle while doing so. Don’t get me wrong, fame-n-fortune-seeking musicians definitely exist here in Madison, but I don’t know too many who are actively trying to “get discovered.” It seems like less and less people give a shit about trying to attain that impossible mega-star status, because many of us realize that the average mainstream multi-millionaire rock star is a product – made and manufactured and sold to us, the consumers (look for a new piece of writing coming soon, called “Kill The Rock Star”). Most DIY local/touring musicians I know are too close to our Art, too in love with our music, to ever give up control of it to a major record label or “talent” agency. Many of us don’t want to become a product to be sold. Like many other creative grassroots communities, there are a lot of people here making REAL art, REAL poetry. Our music has REAL things to say, and we want to be able to say it raw, and unfiltered.
In a nutshell: we don’t give a flying fuck about being rock stars. But we CAN be thousandaires, it IS possible to sustain a perfectly cozy lifestyle by making music. There is truly great Art being made here. With love and support and encouragement, we can only flourish ❤