I know, I know- Christmas was a few weeks ago. I had planned on writing an end of the year article, but the rebel in me decided to wait a little longer. The time has come.
Many of us had the opportunity to witness the music version of a Christmas miracle this past holiday season. From the ashes of a ruined music industry rose one of the most talked about indie cover songs in recent memory. I typically don’t pay any attention to covers, primarily because I am always looking for new music to hit my ears. But even I got caught up in the frenzy of this incredible story. Of course, I’m talking about Small Town Titans.
One evening over the Thanksgiving weekend, I received one of those annoying group Messenger posts on Facebook. You know the ones- typically a share of something someone found amusing that they feel the need to share with the entire world. Quite honestly, I ignore most of them, save for a few that come from trusted musicians. The post in question came from a family member. I was just about to dismiss it when I noticed the title of the song, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” I grew up with the animated version of The Grinch being a Christmas staple (even to this day) and I always had a fondness of the grumpy bass vocals in the song. So, I clicked on the link, took a listen and watched history unfold before my very eyes.
Small Town Titans, for those that are not familiar with them, are an indie band from Harrisburg, PA. Prior to Thanksgiving, they probably had a small local following and made a habit out of self-producing their own songs and covers, releasing a video every week of something new. Most had probably not garnered much attention. That is, not until they covered The Grinch.
The last time I looked, they had garnered over 220,000 followers on Spotify, received tens of millions of views on YouTube, watched digital downloads of their music explode exponentially and were in constant reorder mode for copies of their CD’s. It went deeper than their cover songs- people started taking interest in their original music as well (which is some really good shit). This band, one that had been working on their craft for years, had finally become relevant.
I tell this story because it represents a glimmer of hope for independent artists everywhere. Despite the best efforts of the major labels to convince the world that the only good contemporary music consists of autotuned and oversampled trash, good music can rise above the noise. There was no huge production budget involved here, and no corporate machine driving the release of the song. What Small Town Titans were able to accomplish was done through the magic of viral social media. It was only after it started becoming a hit with its fans that traditional news media started taking note, and when they did, it only added to the momentum the band was experiencing.
So, to all of my independent friends and heroes, I say this- stay steady and committed to what you do. Put your music out there for the world to hear. Maybe, just maybe, you can enjoy the same kind of ride one day. We now have proof positive that big money is not required to have a cultural hit. My personal view of the landscape changed dramatically over the holiday season, as I am starting to see new possibilities for those that deserved to be noticed. There is still a long way to go to come to true equity in the industry, but it seems to get a little closer every day.
To all of you, best wishes for a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year. Let’s make 2019 our year!