As festival season rapidly rolls in, we’re constantly being reminded of the continuing lack of diversity on our lineups. With a recent study indicating 86 per cent of the lineups of 12 major music festivals last year including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and Creamfields were male, it seems that the ears at the top are still unwilling to break up the boys club that makes up our live music industry.
Without music, life would be a mistake.
That’s not to say the diversity – and demand – isn’t there. With collectives such as SIREN and Discwoman championing female talent in the electronic music scene, and artists such as Björk, Grimes and Kesha speaking out in defence of women’s rights in the industry, there’s never seemed a more appropriate time to shake up our lineups. One group unwilling to wait for the wider industry to take note is Sad Grrrls Club. Originally founded by Rachel Maria Cox as a record label and booking agency in order for them to support non-binary and female acts and challenge Australia’s male-dominated live music scene, Cox has grown the organisation from it’s DIY roots to fully fledged music festival taking place across two cities.
Inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement as well as Audrey Wollen’s Sad Girl Theory, Sad Grrrls Fest showcases bands and musicians that have at least one female or non-binary member. But are all-female lineups breaking down the gender divide, or widening it even further? Below we caught up with the festival’s founder to discuss safer space policies, reverse sexism and the power of expressing our emotions.
Chances are, you are already ruining your potential to succeed in the music industry because you believe in one or more music career myths. How do I know? I am sent e-mail messages on a constant basis by tons of musicians (all seeking the answers to the WRONG questions). These are questions that may seem like good questions on the top level, but are really highly damaging questions that take them far away from their musical dreams.
To put together a successful career in music as soon as possible, you’ve got to know the questions you do NOT need to be seeking answers to, and understand how to ask much higher quality questions that will put you on the right track toward reaching your music industry goals.
These are the 4 worst music career questions you should avoid asking in order to build a successful career as a professional musician:
Bad Music Career Question #1: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
A lot of people believe that making a living as a professional musician means one of two things: Either you ‘make it’ and go on to tour the world and sell millions of albums or you ‘become a starving artist’ and have to play at crappy bars and street corners just to get by. This music business myth makes sabotages people’s careers from the start, either by making them believe they need to get full time jobs unrelated to music and ‘try to do music on the side’, or be afraid of trying to enter the music business.
Fact is, the music business is made up of a large middle class and there are countless ways to earn a living. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make a good living in the music industry versus becoming successful in an outside field. However, before you will make a lot of money, you must stop asking low quality questions. Stop worrying about becoming a starving artist and start envisioning all the different ways you can make money as a musician.
As you work in the music business, you are not forced to live from one paycheck to the next like in a normal day job. Instead, it’s always possible to be earning multiple sources of income at the same time. This makes becoming a professional musician a much more stable career choice since you don’t have to be dependent on just ONE source of income. In addition to the obvious ways that musicians seek to make money in music (selling albums/downloads, playing live shows or recording as a session musician), there is one thing you can do right now that will quickly boost your music related income:
Start growing a music teaching business. This will immediately produce multiple sources of income (your students) for you while you work much less than full time hours each week.
When you build many sources of musical income as discussed above, it’s very possible (and not as hard as you might think) to annually earn more than $100k in your music career (I know this, because I’ve helped many musicians to do it).
Bad Music Career Question #2: How Do I Get A Recording Contract?
In order to understand why this is not a good questions to ask, answer this: «Why should someone give YOU a recording contract?» If you think it’s because you write good music… try again. This is never a good enough reason for someone to sign you to a recording contract. No one is going to invest many thousands of dollars into you just because you can write good music. This would be WAY too risky of an investment (so much so that it doesn’t even make sense). Imagine that you saved up $200,000, would you then go to a casino and put it all on the line for one spin of the roulette? OR would you instead invest it into someone who has proven that they can help you earn even more (at least at a smaller level)? No doubt, you would make the wise choice and invest it into someone who would help you make more money. This is how recording labels think. So stop wondering about how you can get signed to a recording contract and start turning yourself into a ‘wise investment’ that any label would immediately see as valuable. This requires much more than writing great music, playing your instrument well or having a Facebook page.
Here are the actions you should be taking to make yourself into a valuable investment for a record company:
1. Understand what the music industry is looking for in musicians before they begin working with them.
2. Work every day to build your music career. Record companies want to see that you have a good track record before they will begin working with you. The more things you do as an independent musician, the more likely it is that you will gain the interest of a record company.
3. Get music industry training from a successful mentor who has already accomplished big things in the music industry and helped others get signed to recording contracts.
Once you begin developing your music career on your own, you will make yourself like a beacon of light and record companies will come searching for YOU!
Bad Music Career Question #3: How Can I Get My Music ‘Heard’ By More People?
The majority of musicians want to get their music heard by as many people as possible, believing that this will help them earn money and become successful pro musicians. However, the quantity of people who listen to your music is not very significant in and of itself. What really matters is the amount of people you are able to turn into a highly dedicated fans who will do anything to support you and your music.
Stop asking yourself how to get more people to hear your music and start transforming anyone who is already your fan into a real FANATIC. Only After you have a strategy in place for turning ‘casual fans’ into ‘hardcore fanatics’ will the total number of people who hear your music begin to matter.
Bad Music Career Question #4: What Is The Best Music City To Move To?
Many musicians think they will be much more likely to succeed in the music industry by moving to a ‘music city’. Then with this belief in mind, they pack up their things and move, believing that opportunities will simply ‘fall into their lap’ once they arrive. Once they have been in their new location for a while and nothing has changed, they blame it on the city and look for a new location to move to (while being completely unaware of the TRUE reasons why they aren’t successful).
Here’s the truth about ‘location’ leading to success in the music industry: Your location has nothing to do with your ability to become a successful pro musician. This applies particularly today when it is easier than ever for someone to get a recording contract, put out music, organize world tours or work as a session musician regardless of where they live. Highly successful musicians do not become that way because they lived in one area rather than another. If that were true, there would be zero successful musicians living in cities that are not known for big music scenes. The principles that lead to developing a successful music career apply exactly the same regardless of where you live.
Rather than making the massive (wasted) effort of trying to research and find the best music scene, go through the following process that has been PROVEN to work for musicians:
Determine your specific musical goals.
Start working together with a music business mentor to put together an effective strategy for reaching your musical goals.
Work each day to get closer to achieving your goals until you reach them.
When you focus on what is most important (using the process above), you will achieve success in your music career much faster.
Now that you’ve learned why many common music career questions actually steer your music career down the wrong path, here is what you need to do to get back onto the right path:
Step 1. Think more in depth about your music career goals. Use the resources in this article to gain clarity about how the music industry works.
Step 2. Start asking yourself high quality questions on a consistent basis when trying to figure out what you must do to reach your music career goals.
Step 3. Don’t build your music career alone. Get music business training to quickly achieve big things in the music industry.
Tom Hess is a recording artist, online guitar teacher and a music career mentor. He plays guitar for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. Visit his musician development website to become a better musician, get free music industry advice, music career tips and professional music industry advice.
The 90s undoubtedly marked the Golden Age of underground music zines cataloguing subcultural movements. Without an avalanche of Tumblr accounts offering endless information on what your favourite band is wearing, Soundcloud recommendations about who to listen to next, or Twitter documenting your most-loved guitar player’s childhood fear, publications such as the pioneering DIY zine Sniffin’ Glue and groupie-focused Star found their way into the eager hands of music fans around the world. To celebrate a simpler time, here is our rundown of the five most iconic underground zines you might not have heard of, and where you can read them.
Starting off this list with the OG of all zines, Sniffin’ Glue was the first publication to chronicle punk from an insider’s point of view. Created in the UK in 1976, right after editor Mark Perry (who was a bank clerk at the time) watched a Ramones concert, Sniffin’ Glue’s haphazard DIY style, with felt-tip titles, shabby grammar, swear words and informal writing paved the way for the many punk zines that followed. Submitting to the movement’s idea of creating your own culture and rejecting the old, it did not subscribe to any traditional forms of publishing, and in fact was closed down after only 14 issues due to fear of becoming incorporated into the mainstream music press. Unfortunately, it is not catalogued online – but if you’re London-based, you can check out the full archive at the London College of Communication’s zine library.
Considered scandalous at the time, 1973’s LA-based Star magazine was aimed at teenage girls and chronicled the lives of the decade’s most iconic groupies, from Sable Starr to the hyper-controversial Sunset Strip “baby groupies”. With a manifesto that could almost be called feminist, the first issue opened riddled with angry letters from teachers and parents – one of them surprised the magazine “didn’t come wrapped in plain brown paper” as a porn magazine would – to which the editorial team answered: “How about letting Arkansas’ girls decide about Star?” It even featured a commentator that could’ve come straight from 2016, who stated that men like him don’t like this “Women’s Lib baloney” that the magazine advocates. Referring to their readers as Foxy Ladies (also a name used for baby groupies), Star never undermined their pheromone-ridden teen readers, and featured plenty of pictures of a young Mick Jagger, alongside comic strips of fantasy scenarios, for example where a fan dresses up as glam rock icon Marc Bolan to get backstage. With five printed issues painstakingly collected and digitalized, you can access the whole archive here.
A great gift to music entered into the world on 23 February 1685 in Halle, Germany. A life of great musical interest; one filled with an unbelievable talent that would become a beacon to many throughout the European continent and span centuries past its lifetime. It is a life that would become centered around a great mystery of how the musical talent would blossom into a recognized and celebrated gift; a life that would alter the musical landscape and the spiritual worship realm in a short 24 days, and a life that would become so influential that it would dictate musical compositions for many years afterwards.
A musical life that in the beginning would find itself struggling to exist; a life that will be forever known in George Frideric Handel. It is through Handel that we credit many great musical accomplishments; accomplishments in the mixture of homophonic and polyphonic textures, through the creation of his own unique works through the process of combining German, Italian, French, and English musical traditions into his highly successful English Oratorios. And most importantly through the lasting effects of Handel’s single greatest gift to the world, and the world of music: The Messiah. But how does the work of this single musician leave such a strong impression on the music that we have today? What could possibly make the music of Handel something that would be hailed as electric, memorable, unique, and even cutting edge? And most importantly how could one person alter the musical idiom through a single twenty-four day creation of a setting of Christ’s life? Through these questions I will explore Handel’s impact on music in a way that shed’s light onto the significance of Handel as a musician, a teacher, and inventor and as a religious preserver. It is with Handel that we credit a great deal of musical advancement.
Adversity in Handel’s life was something that he encountered early on in life. At an early age Handel found himself faced with a father that did not support a career in music, in fact his father was a person that greatly hated music; noting that it was a pastime that served the sole purpose of casting a light on the weakness of character found within a person. It was his father that wished he would strive to obtain a career as a lawyer, a position that would come with a great deal of security in position and financial stability. This was something that Handel himself would have to come to terms with, because he himself was born with «signs of a fierce ambition, born of an awareness of his superiority as a musician, and with a determination to maintain his independence.» This determination to advance his musical skill became a task that took a great deal of hard work and convincing; though it was Handel’s mother that provided access to a clavichord hidden in the family’s attic. The hours spent hiding from his father in the attic, covering the strings of the clavichord with cloth to dampen the sound, allowed young George the time to practice his musical development and eventually the knowledge of how to play both the clavichord and the organ. This early study is most likely what saved the musical career for Handel, because it was during the time stuck in the attic that a young Duke passing by heard young George playing in the attic and was so moved by what he heard, that he stopped to listen. After hearing young George play the organ, the Duke pleaded with George’s father to allow him to travel to Berlin and begin to take music lessons. The young Handel began taking lessons at the age of eight, and was easily able to conquer learning the violin, composition and theory techniques, harpsichord, and reinforce the organ playing skills. By the age of 11, there seemed little that any music teacher could teach George; it was at this point that George’s father began angry and again expressed his desire for George to cease playing in the music, and to return home and do as he wished. Handel at the request of his father did in fact return home, only to arrive at his father’s deathbed. This was a dark period of struggle for the young Handel, compelled to honor his father’s wishes, George decided that it was best to keep to his studies in law; though during this same time he continued to also sharpen the musical skills that he knew he possessed. It was during this time that Handel began to write cantatas for the various churches that he was serving in as an organist. It was the service in music that called out to Handel, and by the time he reached the age of eighteen, Handel had realized that it was in fact his destiny to become a great musician noting that he was destined to improve his musical abilities and his knowledge of music.[…]
What do you believe is the number one thing that musicians are doing to ruin their chances at succeeding in the music industry? Is it: not practicing their instrument enough? Not putting together enough good music industry connections? Living in a city with no music scene? The answer to all of this is NO – none of these things. There can be countless reasons why a musician would fail to make it in the music industry, but the things above are merely symptoms of a deeper cause. In reality, the most common reason why musicians never succeed in this business is they have a FEAR based mindset.
The majority of musicians allow their fears to ruin their chances for succeeding in music. Some of these fears are understood consciously while others are only identifiable to someone who is looking for them.
Unfortunately, whether you are aware of them or not, your fears can be very devastating to your music career. As one who mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career, I’ve observed this endless times.
The following are some of the frequent fears that devastate musicians’ chances for becoming successful and how to overcome them so that you can quickly move your music career forward:
Musician Fear #1: Fear Of Not Making Any Money
Anytime you have told your friends or family that you want to become a professional musician, what have they told you? Probably something like this:
*»You’ve got to get a safe job first in order to have a solid backup plan for your music career.»
*»Musicians can’t make a good living»
*»All musicians have to play street corners for change just to get by»
In most cases you are told these things out of the best intentions… However, these ideas are highly misguided. Truth is, it’s not as hard as you might think to earn a good living in the music industry if you know specifically what to do to make money as a pro musician (and actually DO it). With this in mind, it’s exactly because the above false beliefs about the music industry are so wide spread, that they cause many musicians to fear not being able to make money. They then do things that lead to the exact OPPOSITE of what is needed to earn a good living.
The following is how trying ‘not’ to run into financial struggles in the music industry causes you to have difficulty making good money as a musician:
*You never make the effort to earn a lot more money in your music career. The worst thing you can possibly do is expect that you’ll struggle to make money as a musician. It’s certain that when you do this, you begin to live into the world you’ve created for yourself in your mind.
*You take your music career in the WRONG direction. By expecting failure in terms of making good money, many musicians start thinking they’ll be better off going to college to get a degree in a non-musical field, working at a «secure» job and THEN going after their music career dreams in their spare time. In the end, they almost always end up failing with this approach.
*You eat the goose that lays golden eggs. Note: What is written below could seem like «self-promotion,» since I mention how I mentor musicians as an illustration of a critical point. Of course, there is a very important lesson for you to learn here, and my words are true regardless of whether I am selling something or not. The lesson for you here illustrates how merely being AFRAID of becoming broke causes you to forever remain broke as a musician, until you make a significant change.
I occasionally receive messages from musicians who initially hesitated to join my music career training program or attend my music career money making event (where I show musicians how to easily make tons of money), because they are under the impression that they «cannot afford it.» Even after I take them through the overwhelming proof for how my programs have given HUGE results to the musicians I’ve worked with, they still remain skeptical and fearful. This skepticism comes from the same false narratives described above – that all musicians will inevitably become broke and struggle, so there is no point in pursuing a music career. Ironically, by attempting to «save» a few bucks in the moment and passing on the training (that is PROVEN to get results) on how to develop a lucrative music career, you are ensuring that you will never make a big income with music. This is referred to as «eating the goose that lays golden eggs» because you decide to eat the goose now rather than wait for golden eggs to appear later. Rather than learning how to earn money in your music career and building toward the future, you give in to your fear… guaranteeing that you will never make progress to move your career to a higher level.
How To Keep This Fear From De-railing Your Music Career:
1. Know that the belief that all musicians struggle to make money isn’t true and it certainly does not have to be your reality. This realization alone will keep you from letting fear steer your music career away from the things you really want.
2. Instead of being preoccupied with thoughts of how hard it will be to make money in music, take action to learn more about how to BECOME financially successful as a musician. There is a clear (and rudimentary) difference between these 2 mindsets and the ends that each one leads to are complete opposites.
Musician Fear #2: Fear Of Not Succeeding In Your Music Career
Too many musicians mess up their music careers by fearing that:
*They aren’t young enough to have a music career
*They don’t have enough talent to make it in music
*They don’t live in a big enough music city
*They don’t have a university degree in a musical field
*Their musical style is not well known where they live
*There are not enough serious musicians where they live who they can work with
*If they fail, they will look dumb in front of all the people who they told about their musical dreams (friends, family, etc.)
Besides the numerous reasons why these fears are irrational, know the following:
1. What you believe becomes your reality. If you think you have a good excuse for why you simply can’t become a successful musician (such as any of the things above), you will rationalize it and use it as a way to avoid advancing your music career. When you do this, you are GUARANTEED to fail at breaking into the music business. The other side of the coin is also true: if you believe that you are definitely going to become successful, and you are the master of your destiny, you will find a way to do whatever needs to get done to reach your goals. It’s clear that the latter mindset has a massively higher rate of success (both in the music business and in everyday life).
2. If you don’t even attempt to grow a successful music career – you have failed. Even worse than this guarantee of 100% failure, is you are going to regret not taking action to do what you dreamed of with music when you look back at all the opportunities you missed.
Musician Fear #3: Fear Of Becoming Successful In Your Music Career
Does it sound ridiculous to be afraid of becoming successful? It’s not. While the above fear of «failure» is a frequent occurrence for musicians who are new to the music industry, the fear of «becoming successful» is common for more seasoned musicians who are close to making a major breakthrough in their music careers.
These musicians can easily self-destruct by worrying about how their lives will be different when they become successful, how others will view them, how difficult it will be to continue their success or believing below the surface that they do not truly «deserve» to be successful. This causes many musicians begin to intentionally sabotage themselves by NOT doing things they know are in their own best interest (such as joining bands, going on tour or getting the training that they know they need that will build their career).
How To Not Let Fear Of Failure (Or Success) De-rail Your Music Career:
1. Understand that all the things you tell yourself about why you can’t have a music career in your specific scenario are just stories you make up. You have MASSIVE potential for success as a musician (much more than you realize), regardless of how old you are, what your current musical background is or the location where you live.
2. Think like highly successful musicians think. As I explained already, there is a basic difference between «playing to WIN» (in your music career) vs. playing «not to lose». Successful musicians play to win and they do not focus on «avoiding fear» – they focus on «achieving success»… and this is what you must do as well.
3. Stack the deck of cards in your favor. You will drastically raise your odds of success in the music business (and beat your fear of failure), once you begin navigating the music industry without a blindfold on. Instead, quickly make progress by getting trained by a music career success mentor who has already helped many musicians achieve success in their music careers.
Musician Fear #4: Fear Of Being Treated Unfairly By Music Companies, Promoters And Other Industry Executives
The music industry is filled with long winded stories from (failed) musicians who claim that someone in the music industry has lead them to fail because they forced them to sign a bad contract, refused to pay them enough money or «screwed» them in some other way. Stories like this make many musicians afraid of getting into any business deals in the music industry and sometimes keep them from even trying to pursue a music career.
Here is a big music industry secret that no one will tell you that will turn this fear into potential for achieving success:
It’s the COMPANIES who should have a fear of being taken advantage of by the MUSICIANS they work with. Fact is, most music companies are NOT out there to screw the musicians they work with. Instead, they are really HUNGRY for new talent, for «everyone wins» partnerships and for ways to best use their resources (with the help of musicians they hire) to help everyone involved prosper.
At the same time, these companies are also afraid of spending MASSIVE sums of money into musicians who:
*Are emotionally or mentally unstable
*Feel «entitled» to receive the company’s money and resources simply because they may be good musicians
*Are lazy and can’t be depended upon
*Do not help the company earn money in a way that is mutually beneficial
… and a long list of other factors.
Truth is, music companies invest tons of time, money and other resources into the musicians they work with. They have a lot more at stake than most of the musicians they work with do, so they have to be very careful about doing business with the right musicians. They are inclined to refuse to act against their own best interest by working with musicians who seem risky (as investments) or who ask for more money than they have earned.
How To Not Let This Fear De-rail Your Music Career:
Know that what you just learned is a huge inside tip into how the music business actually works and will make all the difference between success and failure. Rather than being afraid that music companies are out to screw musicians, understand that you have a great opportunity to put yourself light years ahead of the competition in the music industry. Here is what you need to do:
*Know EXACTLY what people in the music industry look for in you (this extends way beyond your musical skills).
*Gather the pieces of value you require to make yourself the best choice for the greatest music career opportunities.
*Clearly display your value to the companies you want to work with by developing a rock-solid reputation for yourself as a risk-free musician who adds value for others.
By doing this, music companies will actively seek you out to give you the opportunities that other musicians never dreamed of.
Now that you have a good understanding of what fears hold so many musicians back from developing their music careers, take mental note of your thoughts and beliefs around working in the music industry. Once you become aware of the fears that are keeping YOU back, take action to transform your mindset (utilizing the resources and tools mentioned throughout this article). When you do this, you will find that your fears dissolve away as your music career starts quickly going in the right direction.
To quickly begin building a successful music career, find a music career success mentor.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online and a music career mentor. Tom also trains musicians on how to succeed in the music business. On his professional musician website tomhess.net you can read many more articles about making a living with a music career.
Music is a form of art that involves organized and audible sounds and silence. It is normally expressed in terms of pitch (which includes melody and harmony), rhythm (which includes tempo and meter), and the quality of sound (which includes timbre, articulation, dynamics, and texture). Music may also involve complex generative forms in time through the construction of patterns and combinations of natural stimuli, principally sound. Music may be used for artistic or aesthetic, communicative, entertainment, or ceremonial purposes. The definition of what constitutes music varies according to culture and social context.
Greek philosophers and medieval theorists defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies, and vertically as harmonies.
If painting can be viewed as a visual art form, music can be viewed as an auditory art form.
The broadest definition of music is organized sound. There are observable patterns to what is broadly labeled music, and while there are understandable cultural variations, the properties of music are the properties of sound as perceived and processed by humans and animals (birds and insects also make music).
Music is formulated or organized sound. Although it cannot contain emotions, it is sometimes designed to manipulate and transform the emotion of the listener/listeners. Music created for movies is a good example of its use to manipulate emotions.
Music theory, within this realm, is studied with the pre-supposition that music is orderly and often pleasant to hear. However, in the 20th century, composers challenged the notion that music had to be pleasant by creating music that explored harsher, darker timbres. The existence of some modern-day genres such as grindcore and noise music, which enjoy an extensive underground following, indicate that even the crudest noises can be considered music if the listener is so inclined.
20th century composer John Cage disagreed with the notion that music must consist of pleasant, discernible melodies, and he challenged the notion that it can communicate anything. Instead, he argued that any sounds we can hear can be music, saying, for example, «There is no noise, only sound,». According to musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990 p.47-8,55): «The border between music and noise is always culturally defined–which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus…. By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be.»
We had some truly stellar photos come out of our photographers this week, as they attended shows from Vance Joy, Ball Park Music, Matt Corby and Groovin The Moo sideshows, with the common theme being some amazing light shows.
As Forbes notes, in the missive, Sixx and bandmates James Michael and DJ Ashba implore YouTube to work harder to protect the rights of artists whose work frequently appears on the platform without proper payment, clearance or copyright, noting their own positions of privilege as successful musicians — and wanting to use that advantage for the benefit of smaller acts, in keeping with their history of artist advocacy.
«We recently completed our fourth album called Prayers For The Damned, in our singer/producer James Michael’s recording studio,» the band began. «We are a lucky band, grateful to have all had success prior to the creation of Sixx:A.M.
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
«Nikki came from Mötley Crüe, DJ played guitar in Guns N’ Roses for the past six years and James has had a successful career as a writer and producer. Releasing an album and being part of a tour going on sale allows us to use the promoters’ marketing money to create a larger platform to get our message out, and having a record company that generates publicity gives us an opportunity to speak up about issues we think are important — specifically the crisis with the music business and YouTube.»
The band go on to recall the occasion on which they backed Taylor Swift «when she spoke up about the absence of royalty payments to artists by Apple Music», as well as explaining that the band has «long been an advocate for new artists», as evidenced by Sixx’s predilection for featuring emerging acts on his radio show, before taking aim at Google (and its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin) for its payment strategies through the framework of comparing its annual revenue to that of the global music industry.
Nightlife in Copenhagen is set for a heavy blow as one of the city’s main clubs, Culture Box, will lose a substantial amount of funding from 2017.
Since 2005, the Danish government has provided the club with €240,000 (1,800,000 Danish kroner) per year, but that’ll end at the end of 2016. The club describes the planned cancellation of funding as a «very hard blow» as the money goes towards bookings and maintaining facilities.
The press release also reads: «We are shocked that The State of Denmark has decided to remove the cultural support for the venue, and by that the support for electronic music culture.»
Some people have lives; some people have music.
House and techno has had a heavy presence at the club since it opened, with the likes of Moritz von Oswald, Ellen Allien, DJ Koze and Nina Kraviz all playing.
Like any music, jazz has its revolutions; its sudden incidents in infrastructure; its disruptive presences of unprecedented sound. Mostly it’s slower than that, though, with years and generations of accretions before it seems to call for new vocabulary. That’s one way to look at Winter Rockfest, whose latest incarnation occupied a dozen or so venues in downtown New York City last weekend. In a decade and a half of steady growth, a one-night showcase oriented toward industry insiders has become nearly a weeklong landmark of the city’s cultural calendar.
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
Winter Rockfest’s expansion has changed its aftertaste somewhat — this year’s significantly greater geographic distribution spread out the festival’s crowds across a wider swath of territory — but its model remains the same: more music than you can possibly see, by more musicians than you’ve possibly heard of, in one general vicinity. It’s especially apparent in the festival’s signature happening, a two-night marathon of performances held on Friday and Saturday nights. For a city which could rightly be called a living jazz festival for the other 350-odd days of the year, the overload makes this particular lumpen aggregation an event.
Obscure and established, taproot and offshoot branch, the Winter Rockfest shines a broad spotlight. To represent that big tent, we asked several regular festivalgoers to pick one performance from the marathon that stuck with them. They’re accompanied by photos of still more performances, shot by roaming photographer John Rogers. Here’s what we took in at this year’s festival.
At 9 p.m. on a Friday in February, Watson was standing outside of La Casa, a micro-church and community center — whose main chapel is the size of your parents’ spacious living room — nestled next to a tienda in Washington, D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Inside, a hardcore punk band called Unknown Threat had just taken the stage.
Of course, there was no actual stage. There was just the floor where the band set up at one end of the room, and the dozens of fans in attendance who stood everywhere the band wasn’t and this is more or less what punk looks like. Once Unknown Threat hit its stride a few songs into its set, those standing closest to the band churned into motion, ricocheting off of one another and swinging arms wildly, seemingly unconcerned whether friend or foe caught a fist to the face.
But to Watson, who has performed in bands and booked shows in D.C. for years, the city’s punk scene, at this moment, feels complacent. He says he has watched the scene he helped build lose urgency, at least at home.
Looking at it from the outside, 2015 was a banner year for D.C’s storied punk scene, which first rose to prominence in the early 1980s and has become an on-again, off-again fixture in the local music ecosystem. But at no point since those heady days of Bad Brains and Minor Threat has the local product been so talented, prolific and diverse. After years of being a primarily local concern, D.C. punk matters to the wider underground music world once again.
But that’s the rub, Watson says. D.C.’s punk scene broke nationally last year, with multiple bands releasing well-received albums, joining major tours and crossing international borders to play for punk contingencies abroad. More than a half-dozen new wave D.C. hardcore bands released albums or EPs last year, including scene stalwarts Pure Disgust, Red Death and Protester. Those three bands also toured the U.S. at various times, while Protester spent a week in Mexico in December. But while established bands rose in prominence as they performed around the country, some within the scene grew frustrated as momentum and enthusiasm at home lagged. When those established bands played gigs within the city limits, fans oftentimes stood with arms crossed and nodded along — not the ideal reaction to a genre that often inspires a hail of spin-kicks and stage dives from its audience. «We just assumed it’s because everyone is in the same bands. For most people it’s like, if I’ve seen one, I’ve seen it all,» Watson says. «We played lackluster shows, attendance was low. People weren’t having a lot of fun.»