For a long time (well, since the 1970s), the spirit of independence and DIY was pretty much synonymous with punk bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols. Now, however, a renewed value has been attached to the concept and now, more than ever before, people who work in music—especially the artists themselves—are starting to value independence in ways they might not have before. In fact, apart from punk and indie (hence the latter’s name), signing to a major label was seen as a huge success, the end goal even.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when independence and DIY culture returned to the top of everyone’s priorities; there are, of course, plenty of landmark examples even in the last two or three years. Wiley, Skepta and Chip all have more than their share of horror stories around major labels and big businesses attaching themselves to their music. Equally, all three also stand as living testament to the power of going it alone. Stormzy is probably the next name your brain conjures up. His journey from “fire in the park” to global star was meteoric and truly stunning. Countless music fans—not just grime and rap heads—watched what Stormzy did in stunned silence, their imaginations firing on all cylinders. 

Now, a whole generation of musicians and artists in every genre and sub-genre are starting to question the entire structure of the industry. Essentially, what this new generation has learned, is that if the music’s good enough, success will follow soon enough. (Bet you thought we were going to quote Field Of Dreams, didn’t you?). Add to that the increased importance of live shows—at least in financial terms—and the somewhat confusing nature of streaming services, and artists are finding themselves in a musical landscape where they only have to please two groups of people with their music: themselves and their ticket-buying fans. No longer do they have to appease a disinterested label exec, and the distance between them and their fans is a lot shorter.

Call us romantic, but there’s something far, far more satisfying about creating something you can be proud of—even if no one else is. Having gone from a goliath of an industry governed by multinational corporations, we’re beginning to see the start of a much more exciting era where kids get together and build something as a team. It may be a sound system built in their backyard, a record label founded in their bedrooms, or a crew of MCs honing bars in their Notes app. Whatever it is, the signs are clear: the entire music industry, from top to bottom, is being completely rebuilt in the form that it should’ve taken in the first place. We are, of course, in a time of flux, leaving things uncertain to say the least, but that doesn’t have to be scary. Quite the opposite: this era of change will go down as the most pivotal and most exciting period in the history of popular music.

Join TRENCH this weekend in the Desperados Clubhouse at We Are FSTVL, where we will be hosting The HERITAGE Hour as we share a stage with the likes of Oneman, Bok Bok, Jubilee, Grandmixxer, Plastician, Manara, Maximum BBK and Spooky. If you miss us there, you can still #ReclaimTheParty and get your hands dirty alongside experimental DJs from the hottest club nights from across the UK in the Desperados Clubhouse at Bestival and Boomtown.

Posted on May 24, 2018