Tagged: thrift shop

Why All Independent Artists Make It Big

Because it is finals week, I am taking a five-minute, (or 50-minute) break to write about something that means a lot more to me than Function in Movement aka HSS 390. Apologies to Professor K; but I sit in the back for a reason.

Last night, my roommate Sam and I were getting back into the car after an 8pm grocery trip and I wanted nothing more than to be back in my room writing my, “The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Limited Commentary by Erin Bennett” booklet to go along with the album that I burned for Ellen (shout out gurrll! I know you read this!). That long anticipated album that I had pre ordered over three months ago lived up to all my expectations and more; and the 19 song Deluxe Edition needed to be shared with the world! (And if not the world, then maybe just my circle of friends.)

The Heist has been in my headphones basically every day since it’s release on October 9, 2012. In fact I am listening to it right this second. Because of this, I was not surprised to be listening to “Thrift Shop” when I got in the car. However, it only took me a second to realize that it was the radio coming through the speakers. Specifically, a station that plays a lot of halfway decent (a stretch), overplayed, pop-songs that we all sing every word to regardless of how much we hate them.

I progressively started to get more excited about this as I was telling Sam about how awesome it is that Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) has worked at this craft for thousands of hours, possibly even Ten Thousand Hours, and his hard work that I diligently follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr is finally paying off.

All I could think is that hundreds of people are listening to “Thrift Shop” right now, and they are probably Shazam-ing on their phones, trying to figure out who the hell this dude is, rapping about his green gator shoes.

After all this time, and it should be noted that Macklemore has been making music since 2000, his message is getting out there to the public ear. The ears of people who might not even know the name of any other independent rapper except for Mac Miller. (As a side note, I find it funny that I was explaining Macklemore to someone once, and they misheard me thinking I was pronouncing Mac Miller wrong. No, person. Mac Miller, the 20-year-old millionaire indie rapper who began in 2007 at age 15, is quite different than Macklemore.)

Anyhow, this got me to thinking about the catch-22 that some indie fans face when their favorite artists make it big time. On the one hand, it’s an amazing feeling to see someone who you look up to grow and become noticed for the art that they have been slaving away at for the sole purpose of entertaining their fans. This is true passion, my friends.

An artist who is releasing music without the guarantee that it will be heard just has to have an obsession for it. There is just no way that one can spend that much time on something without the drive and appreciation for their art. I have much respect for someone who can carefully grow his fan base for twelve years without nation-wide recognition or radio play. Not only that, but to continue to make something as increasingly beautiful and moving as Macklemore has is pure talent.

As we all know, radio stations will generally only play the popular, catchy singles off an album. Apparently “Thrift Shop” generated enough worldwide popularity (as it has sat in the number 1 spot in the New Zealand charts, among others, for quite some time now) to be recognized as radio worthy in the United States. Hm. What a great opportunity for him to become recognized! Hopefully listeners will go home and Spotify the album, become familiar with the other songs and realize that Macklemore is more than just this amazing single. Yay! The mainstream life ain’t all that bad!

However… the thing that drives me nuts is when people literally only know ‘that one song’ on the radio that makes them just lovveeee the artist. Oh yea? Your love seems deep. REALLY DEEP. To avoid sounding like a pretentious asshole, I am just going to say if you’re about to call me a pretentious asshole, kindly discontinue the gaze of your eyes upon this page.

Okay open-minded reader, moving on. So now you know that is what really drives me nuts. I am sure we are all guilty of this on some level. We can’t help it that we are force fed the music that the radio stations, society, and the big time record labels think we should listen to. This is what they get paid for! If we just happen to find ‘that one song’ on the radio catchy, yeah, we’re going to sing along. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to go listen to the rest of said artists music, nor does it mean that this person is our new favorite.

What I am trying to get at is there is more than meets the ear when it comes to radio. It takes a hot minute for someone to become famous; whether they have spent their entire being putting the effort in to hopefully one day achieve this dream, or if they were spoon-fed their instant mashed potatoes, we may never know.

I personally think there is something to be said about any independent artist who has released multiple projects. Passion. Whatever it is that drives them, they clearly have the passion to keep moving forward. One mix-tape, sure. Two, okay. I see you. At this point, if it’s for the fans, or for the prospect of big money, they are doing what they have to do to fulfill a dream. Therefore, if you are an indie artist, you have made it big in my eyes. Go for the gold, son.

It would make sense for me to give you a little sample of this new album, but a) I already posted some Macklemore in a previous post, and b) I want you to check out The Heist as a whole if you haven’t already. Instead, today I introduce to you G-Eazy, another hard working rapper/producer who deserves a little recognition too. This song is most apropos for the current topic.

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