(For the first installment of this new column, I wanted to explain why I decided to write it. This is intended to be released as an eight part series, including this article, expressing my views on how one should go about making some sort of name for themselves with their music. Not that I feel inclined to become famous or try and have a big break with a record deal, but because I think that if you want people to hear your music, you should try and get it out there; I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on the concept of making music widely available, and though I am no expert on the subject, I'm going to tell it how it is.)
A lot of people want to get their music known, but they have no idea how to do it. Back when I was in Junior High School I had my first band (and holy crap did we suck) and I didn't understand music at all. I thought it was all about getting heard by somebody and then picked up by a label, major or not. As I slowly progressed in my musical ability and started doing more and more projects and learning about different genres I had never heard of before, I started realizing that there was a lot more to be heard than what is on the radio, and there is a lot more to be seen than what is at a venue.
At some point I got into grindcore, thrash, and hardcore music, and through a friend I discovered the underground which Davis, CA has to offer; houses converted into venues, shows in parks, etc. All this slowly compounded to where I am today; music is NOT about getting noticed by labels or getting paid for what you're doing, it's about doing it for yourself, making a name within your own community first and then getting your music out there for people to hear because you are passionate about what you are doing!
When this finally dawned on me I was ready to take on the world. I discovered Emperor X, who, though not hip hop, is definitely the king when it comes to impromptu venues (ie. Parks, Front Yards, Lazer Tag Arena... etc.) and I learned a lot just by watching videos. Then I started listening to Florida-based nerdcore hip hop supergroup Emergency Pizza Party and was astounded by the way these guys would put on performances ANYWHERE to get their name out. And now people know who they are.
When I lived in Davis I really dug this band Unless, which was one of the first local hardcore/grind bands that I got into (and were at the first house venue show that I ever saw) and I e-mailed the head guy and asked for a CD, assuming I would have to buy one off of him. He gave me a copy of their album for free, printed right onto a CD-R, with artwork that he had done on the outside sleeve himself. Sure, it cost him a little cash but the exposure was worth it. I'm a long-time fan now and I have the music to both show people AND give people, without infringing on any stupid copyright laws.
There are so many very simple ways to get yourself known around your community, to spread your music far and wide, and to make a name for yourself. Do you want people to know what you're doing? Of course! As much as music is for self-expression and one's own release, it is always nice to know that people are listening; it's nice to know that people care. I'm going to tell you how to do it, though not in the way that self help books do. I plan on giving you a bit of information about what I've gone through myself on my musical journey and tell you how that reflected on what I'm doing today, and pass on what I have learned. Hopefully this will encourage you to pick up some new tactics and write some more music!
I'm going to spend the next seven weeks releasing more detailed (and themed) articles about getting your music out to people who haven't heard it before. Stay tuned for more!
Emperor X (Tell Me About Wichita Documentary Trailer)
Emergency Pizza Party Live in an Elevator at Dragon*Con