When it comes to music, DIY is a fairly new term, and to non musicians they still may think that we are amateur decorators in our spare time, imagining us with our utility belts putting together furniture whilst our family look on in amazement at what we have made with our own bare hands.
This is not a million miles away though. We do create from scratch and do it all ourselves, and just like home DIY, it gives us the freedom to do it in our own way.
We now live in an amazing time in music, it has become simple and at the same time complicated to make music, or at least to get music to the ears of listeners that we hope will become our future fans and friends.
Everyone of us now has a road that we can go down and release music, and even the most shitiest music can get streamed on digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple. But even the greatest tunes are struggling to be heard due to the massive influx of new music and its ease to be distributed. And social media is now a scrolling billboard of bands and artists trying to get noticed. Some do and some don't.
Back in the day it was all about the label. We must tour and get the attention of talent scouts to ‘get signed’. And although major labels still have their place, the ‘indie label’ has become dominant. And this is where DIY sets its place amongst musicians.
We began to think and act like labels. But the big difference is… we have to do everything ourselves – this means no outsourcing as a label would do, even if that meant outsourcing to another department of the label. We are all departments – we are mangers, marketing experts, production engineers, promotors, and of course the lonely artist in the studio.
For me, and I know not every DIY musician is like this, but I use no other human resources. DIY is just that. Therefore my studio – as makeshift as it is – is my empire. I write, compose, record, produce and master everything here. I then use an aggregator to distribute. Its then time to promote. Oh and make a music video, again completely DIY.
There is definitely something satisfying about being completely DIY but at the same time its a very busy and challenging lifestyle and takes up much of it, and if by some miracle I do manage to get some sleep I will definitely be dreaming about my next play.
Another hard aspect of doing everything yourself is that out of the ten or twenty areas you need to specialise in you may only be proficient in one. Therefore everyday is a school day. In the last year or so I have self taught production engineering, promotion and marketing all of which I’m still a long way off. Also getting to grips with PPL and PRS for sync licencing... shit, that’s another headache.
To conclude, for me personally DIY is the best thing to happen in music. Giving all the control back to the artist – and I think it gives the artist in us more meaning, every brush stroke so to speak, is by our own hands. Every decision of colour and tone is of our making. But it’s a lot to undertake and your work ethic must be strong, as well as your patience and self esteem.
DIY punk forever.