Skills to Pay the Bills

This story in Time Magazine was both a little unsettling and kind of unintentionally hilarious. Some snarky bloggers have argued about whether “indie rock” really exists anymore. We collectively have a naïve belief that anyone with $2000 and some songs can throw together an EP on compact disc, play a few gigs, work up a local fever, upload a couple of songs to YouTube, go viral, tour the world and – voilà – instant rock star! Or at least make enough scratch to scrape out an existence ‘living the life’.

Well, not so much.

It’s safe to say that aspiring musicians have to REALLY love music, and be willing to put up with insane amounts of shit, because the odds of becoming the next Bono are roughly the same as the chances of being struck by lightning AND winning the lottery on the same day. The vast majority of bands will play a few local gigs, develop no fan base, stagger along for a year or two eating Ron Chow and sleeping on friends’ sofas, and go nowhere other than flat-ass broke.

So if it costs six figures to get any kind of traction in the music business, then just how independent can an “indie” rock band really expect to be? These days, it seems that the price of fame can only be paid from deep pockets. Sure, Two Lights could choose to live in a far cheaper city than NYC, and Brooklyn is already infested with indie rock bands. That said, there’s something to be said for lingering near the media epicentre of the country.  In some lines of work it pays to relocate to certain places.

Two Lights’ cautionary tale is something to keep in mind the next time you hear someone branding your favourite indie artist a ‘sellout’ for cashing a $5000 cheque from Mountain Dew or Volkswagen or the University of Phoenix.

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