This week Sheffield four piece Trash announced they were splitting up, no details were given but it doesn’t look like there was a falling out or any conflict at all. Unfortunately, this is becoming all too common with small bands. Last month dream rockers Rinse split up and before them indie pop outfit Clay bit the dust.
The problem is that these bands can’t get the publicity they deserve which means they can’t book the gigs that they need to pay the bills. Recording prices aren’t cheap and once a single or EP is released the likelihood of the band getting much money out of it is slim, physical sales are hard to make as a small band when Spotify and Apple Music make it so much easier to listen to and it’s virtually impossible to make any money out of a streaming service. With no money, there is no chance for a band to survive.
Money isn’t the only thing these bands need though. A sense of growth and being cared about by both fans and the music industry is important and that can affect anyone, it’s the main reason The Enemy split up last year after all. All three of the bands mentioned earlier had big social media presence and seemed to be booking slightly bigger gigs but if no one is going to give these bands a chance then they are inevitably gonna give up at some point.
How this opportunity is given still needs to be done carefully. Shooting a band straight into fame tends not to work out well. In 2016 Blossoms released their self-titled debut album and started popping up everywhere. They played huge tours of the UK and Europe and appeared third on the bill at last years Reading and Leeds Festival. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until last month they got desperate for more attention and staged a falling out before releasing their new single. The single seemed to get lost in the music publications and fans chat with more people mocking the band for their failed PR stunt instead. Cabbage gained popularity quickly too, albeit on a smaller level, and they haven’t handled it well either. With popularity comes power, opportunity and respect from fans. In 2017, Cabbage were touring as support to Kasabian when lead singer Lee Broadbent faced allegations of sexually assaulting a member of the crowd. The band released a statement denying the allegations but it was unconvincing and the band have fallen off the radar since with their upcoming tour hardly selling and the upcoming release of their debut album getting little coverage and rightly so if the allegations are true.
Small bands need to be nurtured. They need the chance to play gigs up and down the country, they need press coverage and radio plays to help them reach an audience where they can earn money grow musically before being pushed into the mainstream before they are ready and then they need to be allowed to be themselves. Pale Waves are currently being moulded into a copy of label mates The 1975 by record label Dirty Hit and it is highly possible that they will go the same way as Blossoms and try desperate things for attention, god knows The 1975 do it enough themselves.
Don’t give up hope though, it is possible to succeed and keep your image. Jaws have self-released two albums and sold out venues bigger than Cabbage ever will. Willie J Healey released his debut album last year to critical acclaim and has held high profile support slots. It is possible to make it as a small band but it is becoming increasingly hard. More and more work has to be done by the band themselves and if they were just given a helping, caring hand then maybe we wouldn’t need to have conversations about guitar music dying anymore.