Detroit: One of the more telling aspects that stood out during last week’s Allied Media Conference held in Detroit, is the importance of artists forming collectives as a way to deal with the increasing impenetrable walls preventing access to corporate media outlets. In a world where media consolidation is the order of the day and money and resources are ‘king’ many indy artists are finding that its there’s strength in unity.
It’s become clear as day that when engaging corporate media more often than not, it’s not about preserving, nurturing or appreciating the art. Instead it’s about them finding the most efficient way to make money by obtaining high ratings using a flawed system that seemingly rewards a bland dumb down product that appeals to the lowest common denominator. Hence there’s little or no room for musical expression that doesn’t immediately appeal to the lowest common denominator of a targeted audience.
Looming in the backdrop is the realization that the proverbial public media watering hole where everyone has equal access to engage the masses is a brought and paid for luxury…In short nothing gets on the air for free. Its big business from head to toe and artists have to find new and innovative ways to reach their communities and bring attention to their product.
One such group making headway is Local 782 and the Media Justice Project out of San Antonio, Texas. Group members George Garza and Deanne Cuellar talk about living in San Antonio which is headquarters to the worlds largest radio conglomerate Clear Channel. In spite of being so close to this media behemoth, very few of its stations play local groups. That in turn impacts other aspects including bookings for shows, placement in record stores and coverage by other media.
Local 782 was formed as a way to help bring attention to a collective body of musicians who had similar plight. Working with the MJP, they started putting out compilation albums, doing showcases together and holding meetings with local media outlets to see how to improve coverage for the acts under their umbrella.
They also talked about how unifying help bring shed the long shadow of neighboring Austin which is deemed the ‘Live music capital of the world’. People would come to Austin and never give a second thought to San Antonio which is 40 minutes away and has its own thriving music scene which is finally starting to garner attention.
Along the lines of dealing with corporate media we caught up with long time media justice activist Malkia Cyrill from the Center for Media Justice. She underscored what Deanna Cuellar and George Garza were saying about uniting and supporting one another. She spoke on how corporate media can in many ways it can be stifling. She also spoke about the importance of artists bringing attention to social justice issues.