Indie Bands | Is it time for a new Music Union?

By Mike Ippersiel

[ad#inpost]A few years ago, I had an inspired moment after witnessing (and participating) in a live show held at a small club in Kitchener called The Circus Room.  I posted in a forum on my band web site at the time my feelings, and though the delivery may be rather crude, I believe it gets the point across well.It discusses problems that I’ve noticed with the status quo of the independent bands in my area, and I’m sure the problem goes right across the country. Could a “brotherhood” of musicians that I mention below be a new music union for this century?

It was this post that was the brainchild leading to the eventual birth of this site. Gone is “The Brotherhood” and instead exists the “Indie-Band Alliance” – a more to the point term that doesn’t show gender preference.

The original forum is now long gone, but I saved my original post to my hard drive and now re-present it for your reading pleasure:

Alright, this is something that’s been forming at the back of my brain for sometime and could technically be discussed in the “Space For Rant” forum but it involves Omega A.D. so I figured it is best to go here.There will be a new area on the site called “The Brotherhood”. This is going to be an area that features only certain bands that meet certain requirements. The Brotherhood consists of bands that are working together to actually create a better scene instead of simply being out for themselves.

Here’s what it encompasses:
1) No egos
Save your Axl Rose impression until AFTER you cash that million dollar cheque you wrote to yourself.
2) Trade shows
Don’t just take take take, actually give shows to other bands (what a concept).
3) Promote/Plug/Name-drop
When you have that opportunity to help out another band – do it. This can be putting a link on your site or another bands name/logo on those show posters you’re putting up (yeah posters….remember those?)
4) Do your thing and do it well
Kick ass on stage whether there’s 500 people or 5. Nobody likes playing an empty room but everyone does sooner or later – deal with it.
5) Whenever possible – stay until the end of the night.
Want other bands to support you? Support them. In the immortal words of DAVE! the bands that party together succeed together (an approx quote) if you wanna fuck off after your set you’re in the wrong business. Stick around and encourage your fans to stick around too.
6) Share the wealth
If you make money, spread it around – don’t horde it for yourself. I don’t care if it’s $50 split between three bands…it’s called respect (better known as ‘gas money’).
I could list more – but I think you get the general point. These aren’t new ideas, but it seems like 90% of bands out there just don’t get it. This is basically called “Anti-competition” i.e. other bands aren’t your enemy (forget about so-called ‘battles of the bands’) they’re your friends.


Consider this:The demographic of people that regularly go out to see live independent music is relatively small (sorry, I don’t have all the facts and figures in front of me). Most people would rather shell out $80 for an Xbox game, rent a movie, go to a house party, Galaxy Theatres, or stay home and watch their big screen t.v. rather than spend money (even small amounts) with the risk of seeing crap bands, with crap sound etc… These other decisions (even though more expensive at times) are more reliable in the eyes of the ‘consumer’ – safer.
Here’s another way to look at “Anti-competition”….Cross Pollination.

Picture a rose, the most gorgeous red rose you’ve ever seen in the world. This is the band, they’re good – heck, they might even be the next big thing. Problem is – they act like they’re U2. Pull back for a wide shot – this beautiful rose is situated smack dab in the middle of a desert. There’s nothing but barren wasteland for 1,000 miles in all directions. Music, talent aside – without a bee (or two or three) to visit this flower, the rose is going to die off without any fanfare in the middle of this desert. Who are the bees you ask – the music enthusiasts.

Now….imagine a lush green field as big as a city block. Notice there’s about 50 roses – some are immaculate, some are a little wilted. Also notice the bees. They’re buzzing from flower to flower – these flowers are thriving, growing and spreading their seeds into new fields. This is what a healthy music scene looks like.There aren’t many of these left anymore.

Too many bands have their heads so far up their ass about their own greatness that they don’t realize they’re surrounded by desert. Sure you’ve got 50 cheerleaders coming out to your show…what happens when you get burned out of playing your hometown? What happens when the same 50 people get bored of your show or songs? What happens when your fifty fans start to grow up, get married, have kids? Welcome to the desert my friend.

Fifty fans are a good start – but face it – it’s a salad bar (Kids in the Hall anyone?) – it’s not a career. There’s another great music biz quote: The people you pass on your way up the ladder are also there on your way down. If you’ve been pissing bands off, taking gigs, and namely ‘looking out for number 1’ why the fuck should they do anything but chuckle to themselves as you hit rock bottom?

Bottom line: don’t shit where you eat. The music business (especially in Canada) is tiny. Bands talk, promoters talk, venues talk. Burning bridges is not a good idea.

Anyway…enough of my rant. What I want to do is unite the bands that understand these concepts, that realize the best way to succeed is to actually help other bands. Diversify the fan-base, cross pollinate, mutate & survive! Lets work together and help each other out. Lets wake people up and show them the top-notch music that they’re missing in their own backyards!

One fan at a time, one band at a time – we can change the way the scene is. Help out each other to help ourselves. The rest of the bands out there that want the overnight success without paying their dues can stay in their deserts and wither away.

Enter the Brotherhood – we can bitch about the way things are or we can do something about it. I choose the latter.

Who’s with me?

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