Think DIY and what comes to mind is more likely to be Home Depot than indie rock. But the term is being applied to a vibrant community of artists who produce their work without the benefit of corporate sponsorship and to events that function outside the mainstream entertainment business.
DIY performers, who lack the capital or connections that more established artists have secured, are leveraging free or low-cost services online to share their music or earn a little income from it. Musicians can collaborate with peers on sites like Indaba, sell their music via services like Amie Street and generate publicity through networks like MySpace Music, which helps them stay in touch with fans and promote their work.
Offline, DIY entertainment tends to lack the slickness of mainstream events: Think parties and performances in garages, lofts and other alternative venues, organized by locals through grassroots efforts. While these events are often free or relatively cheap, the appeal of DIY entertainment goes well beyond its low cost. Its low-fi, experimental aesthetic draws in a wide spectrum of musicians and other performers seeking a platform, and fans love the discoveries it makes possible. Established acts such as the Animal Collective are direct products of this freeform subculture.
While DIY may sound like a bunch of amateurs throwing a cool party (and sometimes it is just that), the music industry can learn a few things from this trend. With worldwide music sales down 8 percent last year, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, labels are exploring alternative revenue streams like touring and live shows, since the main product is no longer physical but experiential. In other words, it’s about the party.
One way brands can engage with this trend is by embracing alternative venues and emerging musicians. JetBlue, for example, is offering its new terminal at JFK Airport as a venue: Through the Live from T5 promotion, emerging artists can submit original music for a chance to win two roundtrip flights and to perform at the terminal and at New York’s Bowery Ballroom.
As DIY entertainment flourishes both online and off, watch as more brands integrate themselves into this phenomenon or emulate its ethos and approach to reaching fans.
Go to trendletters, etc. for a closer analysis of the DIY movement and a look at how the trend is influencing a range of categories, including entertainment, food, beauty, fashion and entrepreneurialism.
Photo credit: Ben Sisto