Enthusiastic DIY Band Learns Music Industry Is An Awful Place

Mar 31st, 2009 // 24 Comments

Brooklyn synth-punk crew Team Robespierre self-funded an album, self-funded a video, and self-funded their tours. As The Tripwire tells it, they then learned the hard way that there is an actual music industry outside of dewy basement shows and van PB&Js—and it doesn’t give two PBR farts about you. Read about how they tried to get their video for “88th Precinct” played on MTV, watch the video after the jump, and realize how pretty much any cool thing costs too much money.

Out Of Touch: A True Story Of How MTV Treated One Independent Band [The Tripwire]
Team Robespierre – 88th Precinct [imeem]
Team Robespierre [MySpace]


  1. Lucas Jensen

    Clap Your Hand Say Yeah’s success really made it hard on a lot of indie publicists by filling our clients’ heads with all sorts of ideas. “So I can just self-release it and sell 20k copies, right?” Uh…

  2. MayhemintheHood

    From their myspace, it looks like people/blogs in NY like them…so at least they have that. Kinda sounded like a poor man’s Milemarker to me.

  3. Christopher R. Weingarten

    @Lucas Jensen: “You too can have the best 6 month run ever!”

  4. DavidWatts

    I find it hard to believe that people who are used to playing underground venues are at all surprised to have shit get canceled or called off at the last minute. I mean, really?

  5. Cam/ron

    @Christopher R. Weingarten: “All it takes is one glowing review and the money’s in the bank!”

  6. Ned Raggett

    “All it takes is one glowing review and the money’s in the bank!”

    And I can give that review to you. Though I probably won’t.

  7. jt.ramsay

    This video will be even funnier when imeem tanks.

  8. unperson

    People listen to this kind of music on purpose?

  9. Al Shipley

    Part of me feels sympathy for these guys, but honestly the idea of a DIY indie band caring enough about getting on MTV to jump through this many hoops is laughable. And of course they need to make sure every inch of every frame of the video contains nothing censor-worthy before submitting it.

  10. Anonymous

    @Al Shipley: Seriously. Why would they think that getting played once on mtv2 at 2 am would be worth it? They would have gotten more attention making a really vulgar video and putting it all over the internet, it would have gotten more views that way for sure.

  11. righteousmaelstrom

    MTV didn’t want to play this video because they didn’t want people to confuse them with a cable access channel.

  12. Anonymous

    lol wait “out of touch” refers to MTV??

  13. revmatty

    @righteousmaelstrom: No, MTV didn’t want people to confuse them with a music channel.

    also: Musicians screwed by suits – Film at 11

  14. KikoJones

    @unperson: Yes. I believe they are called hipsters. (And because of the “G” train stop in the video, we’ll assume they are of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg, Brooklyn variety.) But they won’t be listening to this particular band for long: it’s against the rules.

  15. spankyjoe


    For a social group so obsessed with sustainability, you think they’d be somewhat upset with such a disposable product, but what do I know?

  16. anumberofnames

    This whole thing is extremely depressing, and of course I feel like “the old guy” at 30. Maybe I am the one who is out of touch, but it seems like the cause of shunning easy fame has no currency these days. Even bands that seem to shun easy fame, like Blank Dogs, eventually seem actually to be exploiting “rarity” for its own sake.

    Nation of Ulysses interview, 1989:
    Ian: If I wanted to just rock then we could play Tom Petty covers at proms and people would dance their butts off, and they’d genuinely enjoy it. But that’s not what I want to do. I’d rather suck poop.

    People have talked shit about Ian Svenonius since he first stepped on the scene, and he admittedly has made some bad business choices, but ultimately I think all his artistic choices have been justifiable, and he never catered to anyone else. You can say the same of Calvin Johnson and other people from the 80s/90s U.S. independent rock era.

    Am I ignorant to say that these kinds of characters don’t exist now? If there’s something I’m missing, I want to know about it! Is it simply an inevitability of the Internet age or is it the fault of the bands who make a myspace page before they’ve played a show?

  17. KikoJones

    @anumberofnames: For the most part those kinds of artists are AWOL. But the bigger issue is that a large part of the audience is immune to earnestness and revels in bands that come across as detached and ironic. Which, of course, makes for plenty of disposable music/bands.

  18. Cam/ron

    @KikoJones: That whole “I fight off the major labels and trendy fans with a stick” attitude among indie bands now seems quaint and rather arrogant these days. Many indie artists are now dying for the smallest piece of media publicity and commercial success since the playing field is overcrowded thanks to the Internet.

  19. Anonymous

    @anumberofnames: That’s just showbiz. Nations of Ulysses was way more popular than any prom band.
    There are millions willing to pay/download bands with integrity and no ambition.
    Team Robespierre are just another band that tried and failed and will soon be forgotten (unless they try again and succeed. In which case this will become a story about their DIY determination and unstoppable pluck). Just like all those prom bands from ’89 that thought Tom Petty covers were the next big thing.

  20. 30f

    Excerpt from a conversation about this ‘Out of Touch’ article, “I want to pay my own way to NYC to punch all these whiny babies in the face.” I am over that urge now, as long as I don’t glance at the article again.

  21. Anonymous

    “Before starting, for the sake of transparency, I would like to state that I helped release the Team Robespierre debut LP, Everything’s Perfect in early 2008 and helped them on various levels for most of the year.”

    Waaaah – you’re little indie project didn’t work out. Fuck you.

  22. 30f

    I posted on this topic and got a nice response from the Team Robespierre guy. Oh, he gets it!

  23. kenziejane

    I read this article and was kind of offended since the majority of the bands I like are diy and indie bands… But then i went on these guys' myspace and watched their music video for “88th Precinct,” and i realized they SUCK. I don't think i have heard a more awful excuse for “music” in my entire life. It's reassuring listening having listened to these guys because now I know that there are some diy and indie bands that play great, quality music, and actually have talent. And i'm glad i listen to those bands and not this crap. :)

  24. We’re a band who has making good music and comedy as our number one priority. We arent shooting for fame but to be able to live off of our music. People seem more concerned with making a hit than with making art nowadays. We are the opposite.

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