DIY ethics and mainstream success


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Pinegrove, a band who started out DIY and gained moderate mainstream success.

by Zach McCollum, Opinion & Editorial Editor

The terms “DIY (Do It Yourself)” and “mainstream” are rarely used in the same sentence.

Many DIY musicians and bands do not see mainstream success, so these terms almost never go hand and hand. Some DIY bands get lucky and are signed to a major record label or a “gateway label,” which then gives them the opportunity to sign with a major label. Some DIY acts make music that is marketable enough to hit the Billboard charts or achieve critical acclaim.

So the question is- is it really advantageous for a band who plans on making music their profession to start out DIY, or should said band immediately seek out major labels or gateway labels to achieve success early on?

The answer lies in the ethics of the band and their target audience.

Today, it is not uncommon for bands to perceived as cooler because they are “so DIY.” Sometimes these DIY ethics can be seen as more marketable to the music industry, therefore said DIY band manages to achieve success through hard work- starting small and reaching their way to the top.

Is that not exactly what the American Dream is? Is it possible that the music industry could be completely on par with the American Dream.

The music industry is a complex and unique media powerhouse, which blends creativity and textbook business ethics to gain artists and bands mainstream success. A significant number of those bands come from the DIY perspective, which in hand is pretty much the exact definition of the American Dream.

Of course, a handful of artists come from other parts of the world, but they are influenced by the same DIY ethos rooted in early 80’s hardcore punk.

Although it appears as though DIY bands are constantly making it big, most are not. The bands who are struggling to gain attention should seek out larger labels. 

Being a DIY band is not necessarily better, nor does it make the music of these bands better in anyway. A certain DIY band can be just as good or even worse than a “professional band,” as goes for pretty much anything in popular culture; but DIY does take a certain level of patience, willpower, and deserves a certain amount of respect to boot.