It's Not All Bad News… | Friends of friends of friends
The internet is full of 'The Internet Is Bad For Artists' articles. I won't even start listing, because even just the word "streaming" creates a whole sub-list of gloomy tangents. As a person who tries to pay attention to music stuff, I've read more than my fair share, have even tried writing some— but as someone who grew up pre-internet, I’m also very aware of how closed off and even more shitty things used to be (for music, but also everything in general).
Don't get me wrong, it's important we talk about all the problems—and there is still a lot of ‘old hat thinking’ problems we need to kick out—but let's not forget to share the "good news" stories the internet is responsible for too.
I'll go first…
A few weeks ago, I spent a lovely 5 days in Barcelona with the missus and an old pal from Canada. And we didn't spend a penny (or pence, for you English readers) on accommodation. How is this possible? Well, many years ago, I became internet friends with a dude on Myspace named Lieven (you might know him better as A Singer Of Songs). We eventually became IRL friends: putting vinyl out into the world, driving a van around Europe, and most importantly, me crashing several times at his pad.
During those long forgotten Myspace years, in the same fashion that me and Lieven internet met, I also became online friends with a guy named Tyler Butler. Where me and Lieven had thousands of kilometres of land and ocean between us, me and Tyler actually lived in the same city. We even played an open mic together (he was much better than me, which is probably why he continued to make music and I just started talking about other people's music).
Fast forward back to the not too distant past: it was the summer of 2014 and not long after posting some pictures from a recent trip to Barcelona on Facebook, Tyler sent me a message saying that he was going to Barcelona in a couple weeks and was wondering if I had any recommendations. So I sent him a map of the four things that I knew were *definitely* good. And I sent him Lieven's email address.
You see, besides being a fellow DIY musician who would know the best places to get proper tapas, Lieven had recently started doing something called Indies Keeping Secrets (with a few other lovely friends I wouldn't know if it weren't for the internet), which is a cool thing where they put on secret shows in secret locations all around Barcelona (update: and now Brussels too).
You've probably worked out what happened next—given the Soundcloud track below, the picture above, and the general obviousness of what I was building up to—but if you haven't, well…
…here's a quick summary: A musician from Canada ended up playing a lovely house show on a rooftop in Barcelona during his European vacation.
And it happened because the internet is not all doom and gloom for musicians and music lovers (my two favourite kinds of people). There is a lot of really great stuff happening out there because of it too.
Hell, even me telling you about this little story wouldn't have been possible back in the days of having to be in the same room as the people you're communicating with. And there's a tonne of positive tangents and examples one could go off on at any moment, but it seems people prefer to focus more on how nobody buys as many CDs as they did when way too many people were buying N'Sync CDs.
Sure, those are interesting and important conversations to have, but we could really do with focusing a bit more energy on how cool it is that stuff like the above little story are happening all the time too. Because the reason more good news stories aren’t getting out there is because not enough people are realizing how possible it is to start making those good stories get out there.
So the next time you're reading another depressing article about how everything is fucked, just remember that isn't totally true. Sure, A LOT of things are fucked — but A LOT of things are less fucked than before. And the tools for unfucking even more shit are sitting right in front of us. So step out of your usual bubble and go find some time to notice all the magic little things going on. If you can’t find any, start doing them yourself (but also do a better job looking, they’re literally everywhere). Actually, do both: Start noticing; start doing.
And when you see something good, say something good— because it can get a bit depressing out on the internets if everybody is constantly tuned into the usual negative frequencies that our corrupt systems love filling the airwaves with.
I mean, people, the internet is the most revolutionary thing to EVER happen to society and we all currently have pretty open access to it (for now) — but we need to stop using it to prop up & amplify all that old pre-internet bullshit. The powers that be ain’t gonna change anything, no matter how long we wait for them to get their act together, but we can work around them until they don’t have the same power anymore.
And yes, something trivial like someone playing a live show in a foreign country because of mutual url/irl acquaintances is an example of what the revolution can look like. It is all connected.