What was once, in the non-wired world, relatively difficult to find like Dead Milkmen stuff, is now always as easy to get as mainstream content. Does that take some of the fun out of the fringe?
Back to Punk Purity!
Maybe the Internet is separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of punk fans. Now, since there is no ego/image payoff for a would-be Milkmen listener, for example, we might expect that the pool of fans will become purer, composed of people most interested in the music and fun surrounding it.
Nice thought, huh! On the other hand, the Web has given us countless new ways to build profile-based personal images for ourselves, far from the reality of our actual musical tastes. There are new ways to find obscure content online, after all — perhaps peer-to-peer software is like the new underground label experience.
Then there’s SoundCloud, where anybody can be a star, alongside the actual user-accounts of musical stars, who use the network as a way to release the un-released or un-release-able material. This is just one easy example of countless scenes that exist everywhere in the world, and all of them in the same place, online.
If you were a band starting out today, how could you retain some sort of underground feel, even if just for the fun of it. Maybe these days, the art of communicating a band image — its ‘brand’, although that’s such a very yuppie thing to say — is about limiting the exposure and making that exposure highly targeted.
The good news is that it is today easier to gather a small crowd around what you’re doing. Forget about the other direction, of people finding you. As it turns out, there is a naturally self-organizing quality about the Web: people already group themselves into communities.
All there is to do for a young band is connect with online communities of high-potential listeners. Then, let the nature of the Web do the rest. And don’t neglect unusual venues.
In fact, by going to all sorts of cult or campy quarters of culture to mine for possible listeners, a band can evolve a quirky underground feel. You could even try a site like http://www.classycasinos.co.uk