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Is There a Real Difference Between the Underground Industrial and the Mainstream Music Biz?

I was recently talking to [redacted] of [redacted] Records in Germany (who was interested in [redacted] back when he was still at [redacted]). Anyway, he had discovered the new [redacted] album, and was posting on his label's forum about how much he LOVED the album and how AMAZING it was. I caught wind of these posts, and checked it out. I thanked him and we started talking over email.

So he emails me saying how he almost decided to license my album, but chose not to because it doesn't have one or two more club/dance singles on it. But please send him my next album for consideration. This caused me to write a rant on my forum which said:

"This kind of shit makes me feel so restricted! It's like, "oh if I only did more club friendly songs, I'd be scoring a licensing deal in Europe! Well, I'll just make the next album more like that..." - wait a second? isn't THAT selling out? You just compromised your artistic integrity simply to sell a CD (because it's what outside forces wanted from you). I've watched SO many bands jump on this fucking future pop bandwagon simply to attempt to "cash in" on a fad that happens to be selling CDs in this VERY small scene. It's pathetic!

Selling out isn't success for what you've accomplished, it's when you alter the natural flow of things TO attain success. If On This Cold Floor suddenly got big and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, I'd be thrilled. And proud. But I will NOT under ANY circumstances EVER alter my artistic vision simply to sell CDs to the masses. Even if the "masses" are the lowest common denominator that rules a small and insignificant scene. (in the eyes of the music industry)"

But I replied nicely to his email, and we talked about some other stuff. Which led to his most recent email to me, where he basically says: "Yes please send me your next album. It doesn't have to be all club, but one or two songs wouldn't hurt."

The emphasis is mine. So I wrote back and explained that I intensely dislike club music, and that is not the direction that [redacted] is moving in. But I'll send him the next album anyway.

Now this kind of thing isn't news to any of us. But it highlights what we were talking about how this scene is NO DIFFERENT than the mainstream/major label scene. It's just on a smaller scale. It angers me to no end that people think that this scene is so rebellious and different. It's not! It's EXACTLY the same shit. EXACTLY!

And that's fine. I mean, musicians like us are USED to the music industry being fake and corporate driven. It's that these KIDS have fooled themselves into thinking they're a part of something rebellious and counter culture that kills me. This whole attitude that Shikhee mentions below: "if you want to make money, then you're a sellout!" The SECOND you mass produce your CD, slap a bar-code on it, and send it to a distributor (yes kids, even [redacted]), you've acknowledged that this is a BUSINESS. It costs money, and REQUIRES money to SURVIVE.

Next I point to the s6k Arts "Exposure" article where you say:
"Some people believe that all art should be free or else it's "corporate." This foolishness is fine if you live at home and don't mind that someone else is making money off of your sweat, labor, talents and time.

Remember the facts - ART ISN'T FREE;
- You have to learn your craft (time is money)
- You have to buy instruments (singers excluded)
- You have to pay for rehearsal time (even if it that means you pay rent to live where you can rehearse)
- You have to pay extra on your electric bill
- You have to create your art (time is money)
- You have to transport your gear to your gig (laptop artist & singers kind of don't apply here...cabs are expensive)
- And...you must promote the hell out of yourself, which costs you money to go to places, usually events, where you can meet prospective audience members.

When you buy food or clothes, the costs of every step during its creation and distribution is included to make a profit. If you go to the movies, the same applies. So why should your art be any different?

If you devalue your art, others will do the same."

Ahh, sweetness to my eyes to read those words. This scene needs to be reeducated on how this shit actually works.

Time to Break it Down
It's an age old problem. What is the true distinction between the mainstream music business and the "underground music business? The answer becomes easier to answer as the years go by. Hell no! As indicated by the submission above, their problem is synonymous to those of my friends whom are in mainstream bands on major labels.

Don't believe the hype. The underground has been shaped and packaged as a neat genre. Complete with fashion codes, bpm confines, specificity of sound/vibe, and most of all, demands on the artist to create "dance music," even when the artist isn't a "dance music" artist.

I have written about this problem since 1989 when the industrial genre started pushing dance music out in front of more experimental styles within the culture. Another damaging aspect of the Industrial scene was the third generation influx of people out of the "alternative" music scene. They came from liking bands like R.E.M and the like, which although not being "mainstream" bands, have a traditional band delivery. Drummer, guitar player, bassist and singer. They were usually brought to the scene through bands like Nine Inch Nails and not Puppy or Einstursende.

First and second generation industrial people, by and large, come from the New Wave, Art Music and Punk Rock genres. This lead to them having a greater acceptance of nontraditional band configurations and more harsh or abrasive styles of music.

This isn't a purist issue, as it's been framed by those who don't agree. It's merely looking at the evolution and even Stevie Wonder can see there is a HUGE difference in the motivations of those who create the music now versus those from the first generation. If you were to play a "future pop" or "happy hardcore" band/project out of the Industrial top ten of today at an event in 1988, you would be removed from the dj booth and beaten.

I end with a simple fact that can help you broaden your horizons. That would allow dj's to not just be human jukeboxes playing the hits, but dj's that turn you on to music that you DON'T know about. (Because that's really the job of the dj) It would also force labels to diversify what is signed and pushed to the public.


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