We Owe Each Other Nothing: Just Break Up

There’s a story floating around about a band who are asking fans for money or they’re going to break up. I’m shocked they didn’t scan in some poorly spelled ransom note with pictures of themselves being held at gunpoint. This isn’t a new concept either but it’s certainly a shitty one: Bands who somehow didn’t make it to the point where they could make a living off of their music threatening to break up. Only in the environment we as a society have created in Trump’s America could this kind of thing be reported on as a “news” piece and expect not to be met with the mockery of a public who are putting in too many hours at jobs they hate for barely enough to get by themselves. What a fucking mess we’ve created.

I’ve written about fans entitlement previously and was met with increasingly poorly constructed criticism, so it’s only fair that I take aim at those on the other side of the fence: overly entitled musicians.

Look, no one is fucking forcing you to go out and play tech-deathcore with a $150-per-member haircut budget. And no one ever guaranteed that if you decided to start a band with as many neon colors in your art as notes in your songs that you’d make it to a point of financial solvency where you could quit your day job. And even if you did somehow “make it” that doesn’t mean it’s forever. It doesn’t even mean it’s going to be afloat six months down the road. All kinds of shit can derail it, from a comically public drug problem to the fact that the general public is fickle and changes tastes like the wind. The idea of being a rock star, especially in a sub-culture, is a fantasy at best and no one owes you a living.

Crowdfunding can be a wonderful idea, and it has brought some worthwhile projects to the surface that otherwise would be ignored by the powers-that-be. But it’s also easily abused. It’s a privilege, not a right, and the one privilege that no one is making a tumblr page to tell you to check. Threatening to break up because you can’t afford to continue is a disgusting way to use this system. It’s holding your fans hostage except no one is going to come to the rescue so it’ll become an episode of Dateline instead of the new Taken. You’re telling people to pay for the privilege of your continued existence. That kind of shit would have been laughed out of the building, into the street, and in front of a bus.

The relationship between musicians and their fans has turned into an asinine power struggle with the advent of technology, with each side doing their best to take each other’s flag. There’s no balance. “Fans” stream pirated copies of records and spend all of their money at shows on craft beer they’re going to blog about. Bands ask for a living wage like they’re addressing the fucking Senate and expect you to buy them a new bus. Everyone’s true motivations are out like a communal piss trough. Rampant self-interest is the theme of the day. It’s as if politics truly have spilled out into every aspect of culture and poisoned the well. It’s toxic and unstainable.
Like I said, trends and tastes change constantly. If you’re a band and you consistently pull shit like this, then people are going to eventually see you for the charlatan you are and start supporting other bands, some of which will also disappoint them. It’s like Tinder: Everyone is fucking each other but no one is achieving orgasm.

I might have been reaching with that last one but, seriously, this is an even more exaggerated version of the fabled “American Dream” where we all have a chicken in our pot and I guess a spare bedroom for guests? I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention in class that day. The point is that we all have daydreamed that we’d be able to quit whatever soul-sucking shithole we spend 8 to 12 hours a day in so that we could do what we loved. It’s just that, a daydream, and most importantly it’s no one else’s responsibility. It’s as inane a concept as using a remix record to apologize to people you’ve stolen from.

It’s difficult enough today to envision even 5% of the barrage of new music to stick within our consciousness and live long enough to become “classics.” I suppose you do need to do something to set yourself apart since the internet has now given us exposure to so many bands and projects that ten years ago no one outside of their circle of friends and some poor zine would have heard. We’ve hit an oversaturation point. And for bands to be stepping forward with their hands out for anything other than help getting a record finished and released is just bad form. Fucking stop it. Do you love what you’re doing? Then do whatever it takes to build it yourself. On your own. Like every band who released something 20 years ago that we return to more often than whatever flavor of the week you think you taste like.