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Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to rock like the 1%

Dreamboats!
  • Dreamboats!

Having been on both sides of the music machine (the music and now, uh, the machine), I'm frequently saddened but rarely surprised by the depth of the devolution from DIY garage band-ism to overpaid PR flackery, from three chords and an attitude to pay-for-play and Dad's credit card. This stuff is wild, y'all! Bands aren't really bands anymore; they're just teeny, tiny corporations. But as we know, corporations are people, so boom-ba-ba-loom-ba-wow.

But I guess I've still been holding out to a degree, harboring some essential smidgen of naivete, some shard of innocence that allows me to get by day to day without giving up and wandering the streets, searching for change on the ground, humming that goddamn Adele song that's objectively pretty good but then you hear it a thousand times and it starts to sound like nails on the world's longest chalkboard but ANYWAY.

The point is, TIME has an awfully depressing story (via Gawker) guest-written by a young and optimistic indie rock band called Two Lights, a band whose music is actually not all that bad (again, objectively, in a Coldplay sort of way), but who claim - nay, boast - that they've spent over $100,000 to date trying to kickstart their music career.

We've been mentored by former British rock stars, posed for photo shoots, hung out with models, worked with Grammy-nominated producers and rocked some of the top clubs in New York (places like the Mercury Lounge and the Highline Ballroom), opening for some of our favorite bands.

But wait! The band goes on to explain that, despite their extravagant lifestyle, "we're broke" (aww!), explaining that all their (parents') money has been frittered away on band-related expenses, including:

Promotion: Once you have music out, you need to promote it. We pay a guy to send email blasts to databases of hip music blogs. Postcards, demo CDs and other materials are also essential. Cost to date: $1,000.

Living in New York City: Our cousin Abby lives in Atlanta in a house — a house! — with a couple of friends. They pay a third of what we pay for our combined living spaces. New York is absurdly expensive — but the band's future demands that we live here rather than, say, our hometown in Maine. All told, we estimate that decision costs us an extra $1000 a month. Cost to date: $18,000.

Emphasis mine. Because obviously bands can't make it in Atlanta.

There's also voice, piano and guitar lessons (gonna get all real talk and say if you need lessons you probably shouldn't be in a band, seriously) and $25,000 worth of musical equipment. I'll give you a minute.

There's an important political analogy in here somewhere, but I'm too despondent to find it right now, so I'll settle for that lazy headline. Excuse me while I go find that one Minutemen album I honestly never really liked that much and make myself listen front to end, full blast, with my head right by the speakers. (Is this that politics of envy I keep hearing about?)

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