Musicians, Is DIY Dead? (It’s Time to Work Together)

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Do-It-Together[This article is written by guest contributor Eric Eckhart of A Headful of Bees.]

Artists united will never be defeated

For me, DIY is dead. Long live DIT!

I have been writing, recording and releasing music for nearly 30 years as a DIY musician. Some of those years I have had limited success but most have been spent in relative obscurity.

Like you, I’ve tried countless excellent DIY ideas, strategies and methods. Some worked, some didn’t. 

My wake-up call came five years ago.

I arrived in Berlin looking to expand my musical horizons and dig deeper within my creative self.

I kept meeting fellow artists experiencing the same joy of music as me yet also sharing the same struggle to build a career out of their passion.

We started discussing what we were up against as DIY artists.

Why it’s time to do-it-together

One of the most important weapons that record companies have is their ability to pull all of the components of the music industry together to make a mighty push to help break through the noise and give their artists a shot at being successful.

We realized that to be taken seriously and compete at a higher level than the ground floor, we needed our own machine behind us.

So we pulled all our collective knowledge, skills and experiences together and form an artist collective called “A Headful of Bees”.

We threw out the idea of DIY and adopted a DIT (Do –It-Together) approach to everything we did.

When we hit a wall trying to book good paying gigs, we started our own monthly House Concert series that now sell out weeks in advance.

We built a database of all our booking contacts, press contacts and radio contacts.

We started our own record label to release each other’s music.

We teamed up with photographers, filmmakers and various other creative types.

And just as importantly, we created a place where we could share each other’s stories of what we wanted to achieve and talked through the obstacles we faced trying to get there.

All of this work culminated in our DIT:Do-It-Together (www.do-it-together.com) project last September where 100 independent artists came together for one week to record, design, mix, master, film, promote and release my new album, all in front of an audience and all without spending any money at an old empty grocery store in Berlin.

What musicians can accomplish when they pool their energy and resources

I can’t eloquently enough explain what an amazing, inspiring and powerful experience that was for me and for everyone involved.

For that one-week, in that singular seven-day moment, our own alternative music industry came to life. We put it into motion and stood proudly above the silent past of our former DIY endeavors and fully embraced the DIT idea that we are stronger together.

Artists, not professional business people called all the shots, made all the connections and produced a professional album and film without spending a dime, in a week’s time and with a spirit of generosity, respect and appreciation for one another. So, take that the man!

We released the album as a free download and under a Creative Commons license.

Is it a success? Yes!

We have a new album, new fans, new creative friends that have join our community, a film that will be screened in cinemas and at film festivals and a wealth of publicity.

Crucially, we have no debt. We enter the market with a clean slate and the freedom to make decisions based on what we want to do instead of what we have to do.

My future lies with DIT.

What do you think? Have you come together with other artists to make things happen? Have you worked in an artistic collective? Let us know in the comments section below.

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