Independent Music Nostalgia by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web

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Independent Music Nostalgia
Independent Music Nostalgia by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web
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12/11/2019
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For about 12 years straight, I was involved in various manners with Scrub Radio, an online radio station devoted to playing 100% independent recording artists. It had its ups and downs, and by the time it closed the downs had definitely surpassed the ups in my mind, so honestly I was kind of relieved when the decision was made to shut down.

While I still maintain it was for the best, and I'm mostly glad that those days are gone (for me personally and specifically), I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it, and regret a variety of decisions made over the years.

In a way I would say it all started back in the early 2000's when I decided to give PC recording another shot. I had tried with little to no success to record at least some of the songs I had written over the years, but at one point I finally found myself with a decent computer (for the time) and a desire to see how far I could get. Over all it was an interesting experience, and at some point in 2003 I had been contacted by a man who went by Scrub Johanson asking if he could play some of my songs on a station he was putting together.

I was always up for any new outlet, and the thought of having anyone playing my music sounded amazing so it was kind of a no brainer to say yes. I tuned in every chance I had whenever Scrub went live, who at the time was the only DJ. His shows were great, and my wife and I listened and chatted with him regularly. At that time his site was just a single page with info on the song currently playing as well as recent history and a few upcoming tracks. Most communication came from some of the various communities that existed back in those days like the forums of SoundClick, Indie Hangout and a few others.

Scrub would often ask for anyone willing to record any kind of promo or sound bite. My favorite memory in that regard was when he first played one I sent him where my son, about 3 at the time, said how he loved Scrub Radio. Scrub played it while we all listened and just broke out laughing (in a very good way, if that makes any sense) and he played it over and over. That clip lasted pretty much the entire run of Scrub Radio in fact.

As he grew his audience, things snowballed rather quickly. I went from a artist seeking exposure to a regular listener to a full blown DJ once he started experimenting with remote hosts. For a year or so I had regular spots on air and I really do miss that experience; to this day some of my favorite songs and bands are from my time with and at Scrub Radio (as in the act of listening and actively DJing).

The Freeloaders, Nerve Damage, Ana Lovelis, Atomic One, Broken Romeo, Cutting Jade, Cycle of Zen, Addiction Crew, User's Guide, Texture, Ivory Tower Project and so many others really are to this day deeply embedded in my soul (and MP3 player).

Eventually I found myself as webmaster after his previous two bailed. Taking over the web coding was kind of a double edged sword though; it was nice having real work in coding and there were great projects to work on. However, there was so much baggage that came with it that I often wish I never took up that role.

Almost every single decision was made by a committee, with anyone from other DJs to artists to listeners being able to single handedly halt any given bit of growth. Lots of people had a fear of change to the point that any new idea would be rejected simply because it was new. And the worst came from a very vocal (and nasty) few who would show up bitching and moaning once any new aspect went live even though it was thoroughly discussed AND approved by all who joined in the conversations. These vocal few were above paying attention to anything going on until after I had spent weeks coding something and felt personally attacked that they weren't personally contacted before hand (because paying attention to active discussions in the Forum wasn't an option for them).

It always ended up the same way no matter what where they'd continue to bitch and moan until they got their way. And if I sound bitter, it's because I am.

There was a point in time where I had seriously considered putting together my own station; not as any kind of competition, nor any kind of spin off, just simply something that I could work on and put forth the ideas I had without anyone being able to have any say in the matter. Unfortunately Scrub Radio itself took up so much of my time that there just wasn't enough left for me to work on any project of my own for the most part.

Then by the time that Scrub Radio closed down, the entire landscape of online Independent Recording Artists had changed so drastically I didn't know what to do. As it is right now, I don't even know if there even IS a true 'Indie' landscape; as far as I know there is basically just YouTube and Sound Cloud or pure commercial outlets like Spotify and Pandora. None of these options can even come close to comparing to what we use to have 10 years ago, more or less (in my opinion).

The biggest hit for me personally was when Acid Planet shut down mid 2018. Acid Planet was actually where I got my start and was in my opinion the single best community for Independent Recording Artists.

Whether it's Scrub Radio specifically, or Sound Click (which had a nice community at one point) or Indie Hangout or Acid Planet, I really miss the more ' true community feel' that use to exist for Independent Recording Artists. My MP3 player is about 50/50 between commercial and independent, and every time I listen to it I skip past most commercial songs and stick to mostly the independent; and every time I miss those days immensely.

I don't even know which I find more depressing; the fact that most of those bands/artists don't exist anymore and at least some of their music is probably (mostly) gone forever, or knowing that future bands/artists don't really have the same places that once existed. Granted, true 'community' is one thing that the entire Internet seems to be lacking these days; Social Media has taken over, and ironically enough, Social Media is anything but 'social'. Billions of people fighting over the same soapbox is not my idea of a community.

Well, I feel like I have already derailed whatever train of thought I started on, so I guess this is where I should bail out. I guess I've just been feeling nostalgic lately, and thought for a moment that I could keep a straight thought; obviously I was wrong on that.

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