It's summer. It's the height of festival season and you're about to step out to headline to tens of thousands of people.
It's every musician's dream.
Unfortunately, it's physically impossible for it to turn out that way for everyone. The vast majority of artists are never signed, play in local venues and festivals, and never quite make it to the top. However, these artists should never be undervalued or underestimated, for not only do they often make quality music, they are also crucial to keeping music alive.
In this age of crushing debt for everybody, be it due to student loans, mortgages or whatever else, many cannot afford to go to the big gigs. As much as the metal fans would all love to see Ghost, they're charging £43.90 to see their next show at the time of writing (16/11/19, Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham). If the Happy Mondays are more your thing, they'll cost you just under £38.
It adds up - and this is why the smaller, more local scenes are so integral to keeping the music alive. Many artists perform in pubs, which are perfectly free to get into. This gives the average person a chance to go have a good night out, with live music, for absolutely free (drinks aside). If you do go to a local venue to see a specific band, the prices will be much lower, often in the region of £5.
It's not like you have to skimp much on quality; unsigned artists often have bags of talent right on your doorstep. There's plenty to choose from, so no matter what your preferred style is, a quick Ecosia search (check that out if you don't want the planet to burn) will find you plenty of gigs right up your alley. Not only that, but the independent industry is growing at a huge rate of knots. Check out this direct quote from a piece of MIDIA research that was released in June 2019 about global recorded music:
"Artists without record labels generated $643.1 million in 2018, up 35% from 2017. Over the same period the total market grew by a much more modest 11%, with the majors growing by 7% and independents by 9%. These independent artists now represent the fastest-growing segment of the global recorded music business, affecting a market of global scale with real impact and influence. Crucially, artist direct revenue grew faster in both revenue terms and relative terms in 2018 than it did in 2017. This means that their role in the market is not just bigger than ever, it is growing faster than ever."
Unsigned artists made $643.1 million on recorded music alone, without the addition of gig revenue. This section of the music industry is ever-growing, ever-expanding, and an increasing number of artists are actually choosing this path, forgoing a label in order to retain creative control of their music. The report states that despite the rises in revenue, it is still a case of "culture over cash" - a refreshing thing to hear in this capitalistic world. Artists are making music because they want to make music, regardless of the financial situation. This gives the music passion, which usually leads to higher quality music.
So if you're struggling to afford the big acts, go down to your local venue on Saturday night and see what's on. Do it anyway; there's room for both. Not only will you have a great time, you'll also be supporting the local area and its musicians. It's a win-win situation, and who knows, perhaps some of your local independent artists will become your new favourites.