The independent music scene has never grown faster or become as popular as it is today. As artists see more benefits to staying independent than signing with a record label, more and more amateur artists have been inspired to create music on their terms and perform for whomever they want, whenever they want. The social media age of viral fame and overnight sensations only gives artists fuel to learn the ropes. However, how does one even break into the South Jersey independent music scene? I spoke to 3 up-and-coming indie artists at The Grotto, a lowkey indie venue in Glassboro, to find out.
Image via @the_grott_father
What advice would you give someone trying to break into the scene as a listener or an artist?
The first artist I spoke to was Anthony Soto, a recent graduate from Montclair State University and an artist who plays with Jack Flowers and The Petal Tones. His best advice was to "Just do it…If you feel confident in your abilities and confident enough in your songwriting, find an open mic and go from there. One open mic turns into two open mics, one show turns to two shows''. The other artists agreed, too. They all emphasized that you should go to local house shows, follow the social media of local venues and bands, and not be afraid to engage with the people at shows. Don't be a spectator; be a participant, feel the energy, hop in a moshpit, talk to the performers, and ask about upcoming shows.
Where are some of the best places to get familiar with the scene?
Dana Johann, a solo indie artist from Burlington County known for her acoustic sets and dreamy vocals, shared some of her wisdom. She says some of the best places to get familiar with the indie scene are at house shows around Rowan, Rutgers, or Philly. Home venues, like the Grotto, are a great place to build relationships with other artists and network. The artists also mentioned that Instagram is a great place, as the scene is in-person and online. In my experience playing shows and actively supporting all my indie friends, these are great places to find people who aren't afraid to express themselves and share their talents.
Image via @dana.johann
What is the best part about the indie scene?
The last artist I asked was Dylan Waterman, a singer-songwriter from Connecticut based out of South Jersey. I asked about the best part of being in the indie scene besides being close to the rawest and most intimate art form. He said," Definitely the friends I've made and people I've met that I wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise." Dana agreed, adding," There's so much warmth and many talented people, it's a little intimidating, but people are usually super friendly and also very protective, so if there's somebody who's like an asshole, they usually get kicked out." Anthony Soto also agreed and added, "Everyone values the art, and everyone values what you're doing; I think no one ever takes it for granted." The people are wonderfully talented and very friendly. They all value artistic expression and are happy to hear and enjoy other people's words and performances. The people make the performance, and the indie scene is full of eccentric and down-to-earth people with great musical tastes.
Image via @mrdylanwaterman
The indie music scene is one of the most inviting and exciting spaces for musicians and music lovers to build community. Because of the lack of massive labels and big corporate dollars, these homegrown talents band together to produce some of the most memorable shows I have ever witnessed. There is so much to enjoy, from the talented performers to the atmosphere to the sense of community these independent artists have for each other. It is truly a one-of-a-kind space and energy that more people should be a part of. Please support these artists by following their social media, listening to their music, and coming out to their shows. For more on the South Jersey music scene, follow Lucid Media Blog and stay tuned for more.