Friday, December 24, 2010

Grindstone Redux - Underground Music in the 1980s

Cool - I remember buying albums by the Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, and other non-commercial punk musicians in a little hole-in-the-wall record store in Grants Pass, Oregon - if you were friendly with the owner, you could also buy pipes and bongs (which were illegal then), but that's another documentary entirely.

Grindstone ReduxGrindstone Redux (2010) 60 min

The Story of the 1980's Underground Music Network.

This is the story of how the music business was transformed in the 1980s by like-minded musicians who decided to self-publish their work. They formed a “network” before the internet or email made it commonplace.

Today it is common practice for musicians to self-publish their work. But this is a recent development in music history, which began in the 1980s. It came in response to a music business with a narrow spectrum of music that was being released and promoted.

Before the internet or email, there was a network of “Underground” musicians and bands who networked with each other by producing recordings at home, exchanging them with each other, and communicating with hand-written letters. They created their own “record labels.” They produced independent magazines and the first generation of radio shows devoted to independently released music.

In the 1980s the music industry was also transformed by numerous technological developments: the first affordable recording equipment, the first affordable synthesizers and affordable photo-copying. For the first time, musicians were able to record and distribute their music without a “major” record company.

The network was supported by small, independent record stores (which have all but disappeared) where musicians could place their work for sale, as well as discover other like-minded artists and magazines. This created a sense of community in which artists were working locally with stores in their home towns. To a great extent, these stores helped build the network .

No comments: