It’s a tale as old as time: Passionate friends gather to pursue their dream of creating a satisfying musical project that people may someday dare to care about. What pitfalls lie in wait? Great expectations cloud the better judgment of our humble heroes, and before long, they’ve spent much of their precious coin on expensive gear, studio recordings, boxes of unsold merch, and physical releases better used as frisbees and coasters. Did I yet mention countless disappointing gigs? Alas, the fellowship falls under the crushing weight of their own failure.
What in the world went wrong?
The moral of this tale echoes throughout social media and the modern world as we know it. Exponential loss of attention span, harsh and hasty judgement of musical quality, and the onslaught of limitless new content served to a kingdom of apathetic subjects have resulted in a most inhospitable realm. How do we, the hopeful, venture onward in the face of such peril? Dare we endeavor at all?
Have faith, for hope yet abounds!
For starters, consider what wondrous weaponry the tech wizards have forged in our names. GarageBand spells easily enchant those who might otherwise doubt our home recordings. Bandcamp and SoundCloud instantly catapult our tunes aloft, allowing them to land happily throughout all corners of the realm. Facebook and Instagram carry our message further than even the mightiest raven, expanding our kingdom exponentially as our projects evolve.
Happily ever after? Perhaps, but bear in mind that no one is obligated to care, and the onus of creative output falls on you alone. Every moment is an opportunity for inspiration, germination, development, and, ultimately, the birth of a new song or album concept. Our worst mistake is not acting upon it. The late, great Jay Reatard—whose vast catalog is an enduring testament to the potential of DIY—once likened his mission to a race against time. With whatever time there is left, why not go for it? Might as well!
And what, mind you, is worth sharing with the world? Make it relatable, make it authentic, make it original, and, above all else, make it yours. Be the weirdest, most extreme, most brutally honest version of yourself. Your aesthetic may not jell immediately, but the DIY ethos encompasses the virtues of persistence, endurance, and doing it in spite of all else. Eventually, you may find yourself puzzling over sales from albums you recorded in a parked car or intrigued by the natural appeal of corpse paint, sweat socks, and a black leotard. Have at it! Hails!
And when in doubt, recite the 10 Commandments of DIY:
1. Thou shalt not buy unnecessary shit
2. Thou shalt not hesitate to release and share
3. Thou shalt not obsess over quality standards set by others
4. Thou shalt honor and support thine allies
5. Thou shalt ignore haters and naysayers
6. Thou shalt remain motivated and inspired
7. Thou shalt reach out to those who inspire thee
8. Thou shalt not talk about but rather do it
9. Thou shalt not partake of excessive distractions
10. Thou shalt do it for the hell of it, first and foremost!