The independent music scene today exists within the confines of a new paradigm. The old world is struggling to stand as a new one is sprouting legs.
The DIY ethic has more of a chance than ever before to shine through, and artists who wish to live by some form of ethical template have more of a chance to do so.
Briefly, with the collapse of the old way of doing things within music, and the abundant ability for nearly anyone to make something resembling music, the sale of one's music for an independent artist is quickly going out the window.
More and more musicians are giving their music out for free over the internet, with the hopes of creating some niche within the oversaturated market.
The upside is that there are more talented musicians able to reach audiences than ever before. The downside is that the radio stations do not reflect any of this.
More and more the message to these musicians is to go on tour.
Touring on the independent music circuit is far from glamourous. Yet it is becoming more of a necesity to, it seems, to spend more time there.
Our current musical environment can see the musician in the role again as a traveling story-teller, depending on the goodness of the communities they vistit to keep them well fed and healthy so they can continue to the next town.
For those seeking to answer a call to stake one's claim at living as a musician in today's world of corporate over-kill and financial crises there are many things to consider. This article raises the question of the ability to utilize Alternative and Local currencies within musical tours, whereby artists can contribute to the process of supporting local environments in more imaginative ways.
The manifestation of a tour network set-up that links all those clubs, bars, party events, etc, that have some form of agreement worked out with a local small business owner.
For the purposes of this article, and my proposed tour, it would be a local organic food store and/or restaurant.
I choose this particular area because in the experience I have had with touring, and from talks with other touring musicians, food and eating healthy is one of the first things to be sacrificed as soon as the tour starts picking up steam.
For many young musicians, the excitement of the road leads to skipping out on meals with any nutritional substance. There are so many other factors to think about, and many things to budget in, and food becomes a low priority. As a result, many end up eating at fast food restaurants along the strip-malls of the american night, or they may just ingest empty calories at the gas station quick-stop as they fill up their vehicles and go the toilet.
If the band has some time and extra cash they might stop into some local restaurant and celebrate, but I have found this to be the last option of the touring band.
This situation is more determental than just not getting proper nutrition. By purcahsing food from gas stations and fast food chains, the band is unwittingly feeding into a predictament that has, perhaps, contributed to the angst they may feel about the current state of the union.
There are long streches of lifeless corporate pseudo-communities latched onto the interstates all along america. And we, musicians and travelers, watch all this repeat over and over again outside our car windows, wondering where the local color has gone, and if there was any there to begin with. There are without a doubt pockets of communities that exist scattered along these long runs of nothingness, and one purpose of writing this article is throw a bit more energy into the movement of creating more of these places.
If musicians view themselves in a light more complimentary than a hopeful puppet on a string with hopes of one day getting their own reality tv show. If they view themselves as cultural agents carrying a tradition that dates back to the most noble efforts of humanity, then at least contemplating somethihngs raised in this blog is necassary.
A system of touring is already in place. A model exists that many utilize to make it happen. My hope is to help establish a link in the chain of the touring lifestyle that can be put into practice and then be injected into the scheme of all other tours. This small piece can be integrated into that bigger model with the benefit to those seeking to escape the grasp of corporatized community spaces.
Alternative Currencies will be utilized in the form of complementary payments to the band. So the band will receive greenbacks from the promoter and also some form of local currency that can be utilized at any participating health food store and/or restaurant. This works for the the band's benefit in getting good food. And it works for the localities benefit in providing business and circulating money within the area.
This plan is simple enough, but some form of infrastructure needs to exist for it to manifest. One idea is to dedicate some internet forum to further discussions on forming the infrastructure for this network. Currently, I am working on my website, propanon.com, and I hope to include such a forum for the discussion of this topic.
There will also need to be the real world work of local promoters and show organizers to reach out to their nearest fun and supportive local healthy food stores and present them with the idea.
If they are hip to the situations of economic hardships upon everyday communities they might be very into this effort. Forming the relationship with small local businesses is good in and of itself, and when you are presenting an idea that is innovative and fun your local community may even begin to look a bit brighter.
With this blog I hope to link with those interested in making an Alternative Currents tour possible.
This is something I hope to do myself sometime in the fall, in support of the release of the record I am working on entitled, "Calling Down the Earth."
Personally, I wish to link into a tour network of Hip-Hop, Punk, and Indie venues and scenes.
Anyone interested in crafting an Alternative Current tour network, can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.