50 Ways to Support Your DIY Music Community
The way a do-it-yourself music community/scene works is exactly like it sounds: by doing it yourself. DIY is an ethos that transcends genre. Regardless of what your music sounds like, you can create it, perform it and essentially sell it, through your own channels and own means without the hand or monetary support of a larger entity that can compromise your art. But it takes more than just musicians in a music scene to do-it-yourself; it takes the people who book shows, do sound, make merch and spread the word about music, too.
Brandon Marshall for Westword. Hindershot performing at Unit E.
So what can you do if you want to be more a part of your community? To get started in the right direction, we've compiled a list of just some of the ways you can help support and be a crucial part of your DIY scene.
1. Go to a show
Any show thrown at a non-traditional venue (if the door is donation-based, it's probably a DIY show). The $5 you donate goes to the bands.
2. Donate at the door
DIY shows are donation-based for two reasons. One, it keeps the show affordable and open to all. Two, logistically/legally, there cannot be a set door price or they become a venue that needs permits and such. So toss what you can in the pot and know it goes to help the bands you're seeing play. Or if you don't have any money this time, donate a little extra next time.
3. Start a band
Music and art communities survive because they are a rotating cast of creative people. Bands are always needed -- seriously. There are never enough bands. So get off your ass and start one.
4. Rent your van to a band
One of the things that keeps local bands from growing is a lack of touring. And one of the things that keeps a band from touring is a lack of a vehicle. Help a band out!
5. Promote a show
You don't have to be in a band or running a venue to promote a show. If they are your friends or a band you really like, spread the word! Pass out fliers, tweet about it or invite friends on Facebook. Bands need to get people they don't know personally in the door. That's the whole goal.
6. Document your scene
Are you a photographer? Get out there and shoot shows. With social media, it is easier than ever to share these photos and in turn, give your favorite bands another way to reach new people. Plus, in ten years people will be drooling over your work and reminiscing about how much fun they had at the show you took photos of.
7. Make a band dinner
Tom Murphy. Pictureplane performing at Rhinoceropolis.
This is great when bands are on the road, especially, because if you are touring at a DIY level you are eating at gas stations and Subway (GROSS) a lot. A home-cooked meal when you're touring means more than you know.
8. Buy a PA
A show can happen anywhere, any time. Want to help make that happen? Buy a PA and rent or loan it to people for house shows.
9. Go see a DIY-level touring band that you don't know
The best way to discover new music? Going to shows where you don't know the songs yet. Plus, you're usually ahead of the curve then, because many DIY level bands graduate to larger venues and you get to be that guy who says, "I saw this band play in someone's basement!"
10. Go to a DIY music festival
Just underneath the world of corporate music festivals, there is a whole different circuit of music festivals put on by people and bands without corporate sponsorship (or they are sponsored by local companies, which rules!). They may only cost a fraction of what you would pay for a big name fest but offer just as many bands. These things are a great way to see a ton of good bands for one ticket price.
11. Buy merch
Bands do make money from the door at a DIY venue, but buying their merch can ensure they get to eat at their next tour stop. For both local and national bands, buying t-shirts, albums, buttons and whatnot from them can help fund everything from the next recording to the purchase of a van.