DIY, By Choice or Consequence? – Part 1 of 2

DIY…to do it yourself. It is a phrase that resonates with many musicians and artists alike. It has power, it has potential, and it can be overwhelming.

But what does it mean to DIY? What is a DIY ethic? How can you as a band or artist make the best of it without burning yourself out? And what can DIY mean for the future of music? All of these thoughts are considered below.

To “Do It Yourself,” as a band or artist, means that you take control over much of the production, distribution, and creation of the music. This can be anything from choosing your own material, recording and mixing the tracks, designing your album art, burning CDs, doing your own PR, to distributing your albums out of the back of your beat-up Volvo. Many bands and artists do this now, including myself. Other things that you can DIY include: screen printing your own t-shirts, hand numbering cassettes, hosting your own basement shows, viral fund-raising, making fan-zines, and lo-fi music videos. DIY has a deep history in the punk and indie music movements, which tended to move away from mass produced and conglomerate control of music to centralizing it in the hands of you and me. Back to basics.

Riot grrrls, street punks, and intellectual indies all could appreciate the uniqueness of becoming closer to your craft, and engaging your audiences in a real way. For example, many fan zines promoted DIY by just getting people to speak their thoughts and to become active in their musical communities.   Artists would invite fans on stage to sing with them, help create their merchandise and spread the word.

Another way to do this was by starting their own bands and record labels. It didn’t matter if you had never played an instrument before, or didn’t have years of professional training, it was about the process. It was about letting go of your  inhibitions and just doing. The result wasn’t necessarily the most glamorous, but getting yourself out of the box was. You don’t need to be an expert to do a, b, or c. You don’t need a multi-million dollar record deal to make music, tour, or gain a fan base.  The old avenues do not necessarily guarantee success, and artists are now looking around for new ways of doing thing in the digital age.  The internet has aided in this tremendously with social media tools and networking websites to help artists that may never have had a shot at a big record deal get exposure. DIY is a tool to break the mold.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Photos via crownjewel82, wadem, and sourdiesel. This post was originally titled “DIY: Back To Basics” written for and published on Crowdbands.

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Posted on March 1, 2011, in Pick Guards - Music Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on DIY, By Choice or Consequence? – Part 1 of 2.

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