Tucked away in small performance spaces and obscure bars survives an endangered species—alternative musicians. These performers who play with undeniable passion and an aura that enlivens the room are inexcusably neglected in the music business.
The only thing keeping the underground music scene alive is the fan base that feeds the appetite of aspiring artists.
“Social media is something that has really helped us widen our fan base,” said Mikey Webber, guitarist of Signals., an indie band from Southampton, England. “Most of [Signals.’s] biggest influences are smaller underground bands with dedicated cult followings.”
In a world where technology is becoming increasingly important to musical development, avid online music-discovering junkies now hold the key to the door of opportunity. Some bands are fumbling with the key—or they just can’t afford it.
“The people who are underground… don’t have a lot of money and the means to get them into the mainstream,” said Lanier Gray, 16, from Greensboro, North Carolina.
The members of Signals. are currently attending university, adding to the hectic agenda of a blossoming band. Between work and gigs, there isn’t much money to invest in promotion. That’s why “being able to stream and sell your music online is… massively beneficial,” according to Webber.
In some cases, even if money isn’t an issue, underground artists are reluctant to succumb to the mainstream.
“Playing less ‘mainstream’ styles of music does make things a little tricky sometimes… [but] I very much doubt we would want to sign up to major label if we got the opportunity,” said Webber.
Many independent artists prefer maintaining creative freedom without the hovering hand of industry giants. They can act proactively and track their own progress by making their music accessible online.
Bonus: with the rising reputation of the hipster, “today it’s considered cooler to be into music no one knows,” said Alina Zerpa, 17, from Miami, Florida.
Hope has been rekindled in the hearts of the indie population. With Tumblr, Youtube, Soundcloud and similar sites ablaze, social media keeps the light shining bright underground.