Detroit: One of the more telling aspects that stood out during last week’s Allied Media Conference is the importance of artists forming collectives as a way to deal with the impenetrable walls that prevent access to corporate media outlets. In a world where media consolidation is the order of the day and money and resources are “king,” many independent artists are finding that there’s strength in unity.
It’s become clear that corporate media more often than not has little to do with 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 rewards bland, dumbed-down product. 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 public media watering hole where everyone has equal access to engage the masses is another bought and paid for luxury… In short, nothing gets on the air for free. It’s 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 Texas Media Empowerment Project out of San Antonio, Texas. Group members George Garza and Deanne Cuellar talk about living in San Antonio, which is headquarters to the world’s largest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel. Despite being this media behemoth in their backyards, very few of its stations play local groups. This in turn impacts other parts of the music scene, including booking 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 with a similar plight. Working with the MJP, they started putting out compilation albums, doing showcases together and holding meetings with local media outlets to find ways 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 has been deemed the “live music capital of the world.” People come to Austin and never give a second thought to San Antonio, which is 40 minutes away and has its own thriving music scene. THanks to Local 782, that scene is finally starting to garner attention.
We also caught up with longtime media justice activist Malkia Cyrill from the Center for Media Justice. Malkia 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.