So I’ll be honest with you. There IS a sort of music Illuminati. It’s a little nebulously defined, but you’re going to have to realize, if you want to get anywhere in this industry that there definitely are powers that be that you don’t know about and who don’t especially want you to know about them, simply because they can do their jobs more easily that way. This manifests itself differently in different sectors of the music industry of course (I think, for example, we are collectively starting to realize that the same handful of people write all of our hit songs) but oftentimes it can get a little more epic in scale, and perhaps even a bit more malicious.
As I write this article I am preparing to go to Hellfest where I will attend one of the most significant meetings for this ‘music illuminati’ (At least in the metal world) It’s certainly meant as a fairly clandestine thing (I was told to not bring anyone with me) but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it especially nefarious. For obvious reasons I can’t tell you the day or location, but it’s certainly happening. I will see old friends and hug a bunch of people and ask what they’ve been up to. We aren’t going to be plotting who we will destroy or who should make it big in the next year or two and who should get signed to what label. Except that we totally are – it’s just not as openly capitalistic and evil as I just made it sound.
The thing is – there are a ton of people trying to make it big in this industry, so it makes sense that after a while we are going to find ourselves in something of a circle jerk. As much as you might want to help out the little guy, it’s incredibly rare that the little guy is actually competent and worthy of making decisions that actually matter in the music industry. The few people who actually can do stuff are of course going to be friends – and we are going to talk to each other and talk about which people are actually of merit and who we should be looking at working with as we move forward. It’s simply a way to create a more streamlined music industry experience and it’s going to end up helping out the collective in the long run. We don’t have time muck about with amateurs, we want to consult with each other and help to make sure that the bands who truly matter are the ones who get to go out and make it in this topsy turvy world of ours.
Of course now you might be wondering, “How do I get invited into this musical Illuminati?” and the answer is: you don’t. You have to just keep working, showing your worth and not expecting one of these people who can actually make shit happen to reach out and pull you in. If you are lucky you will be able to charm someone and become a part of the club. If not – well then – you are going to need to re-evaluate your place in the world of music. That being said – I have never met anyone who has seriously worked at this for years who hasn’t been able to get pulled ino some of these discussions, even if they aren’t given any direct power. Everyone I know in the music Illuminati (Though admittedly I am not super high up) got there because of the work that they have done and who they know – if an idiot like me can get there, then eventually you too.
Don’t get all vindictive about this Illuminati either. Quite honestly, they probably have your best interests as a fan at heart. Why? Because they are fans too. Or at least they were. Yet people like you, being annoyed that they couldn’t be decision makers ruin it for everyone because it means an Illuminati has to exist. The music industry – as DIY as it can be – really relies on people who get shit done. If the Illuminati folks brought everyone into the fold not nearly as much would happen and we would all be suffering from it – as fans. It’s simply come up that this is the most efficient way to handle life in the music industry, and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future.
In fact – given the power of the internet I think the industry will probably end up more stratified. With more amateurish labels and scams being crafted every day those who have power become ever more secretive. They don’t want their information being leaked and they don’t want to have to deal with the perennial frustrations that these newbies will vent on them. Instead they make a point of driving forward with a grimace and reminding themselves that no matter what the struggle, they are doing this because they love it.
When I go to this fancy barbecue next weekend me and my buddies will probably joke about this article. But deep down we all know it to be true. WE have created a very exclusive club for ourselves and we are using it as a way to drive forward not just our own interests but (ideally) the interests of the collective. WE are fighting for something that our modern economy is basically trying to destroy, and it’s not a question of having the mos troops, but the best. Sure someone will try to crash the party to ‘network’ but that’s because they don’t get it. It’s not about networking, it’s about building a better tomorrow for musicians – and this might be the only way to do it.
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