Craft Beer and Independent music are peas in a pod. Both industries are in adverse markets. With Craft Beer, it sometimes doesn’t matter how good the Beer is for some buyer to be tickled enough for it to land on the shelves of major retailers. And in Music, when Record Companies work with the right PR people who know big press you end up “on the shelves” quickly. Quality can be an afterthought. Money, the catalyst.
And then there is the Long Tail element. The Long Tail (left) is explained here. About 15 years ago I did a songwriting workshop with Canadian Songwriter Emm Gryner in the Droichead Arts Centre. At this point I was green when it came to networking and etiquette. Almost rude I admit! So not a lot went in despite having a good teacher. (Sorry Emm)
Emm was a pro and delivered the workshop in style. At the end of the week Emm gifted us all with a copy of Chris Anderson’s book The Long Tail. The book sat in my bedroom for about 6 months until I started to read it. Many years later I found myself realising it had predicted how diverse the music industry would become. And Craft Beer boomed too. Independent Musicians took more and more market share. The Long Tail it seems has come to fruition. What a nice gift. Thanks, Emm.
"What makes the ‘Tail” so healthy?"
Well for example Craft Beers can get launched with hilarious names like “Fresh Prince of Kildare” by Trouble Brewing. They don’t just get launched after a million meetings with suits. They get launched FAST. Which means trends can come and go but the agility is breathtaking. And the names are hilarious. In music it's possible to release Grammy winning pieces of work from your bedroom. A la Billy Eilish. Its also possible to quickly record and launch a single in a matter of weeks. To be more opinionated. And Independant.
What’s more there is a great community. And success stories to boot, like Brewdog and Hozier (Rubyworks). Both Craft Beer and Independent music is still growing. Yes it might cost a little more to grab a vinyl from a self funded Indie but a massive chunk of that money isn’t covering 4 star hotels and meeting room expenses or rates in some City Skyscraper. It's a small manageable set up cut to suit it's needs.
"Heres a stat for you"...
Craft Beer is SIX TIMES more labour intensive than Macro Beer. Meaning only one thing - lots more potential jobs!
"But I just don’t like Craft Beer its really bitter"
Craft Beer makes all styles of Beer. Not just IPA’s and Pale Ales. You can buy Helles, Lager, Kolsch, Cider and Table Beers. Non alcoholic beers! And the Alcoholic strength varies too, Table Beer and Micro IPA’s can range from 2.0% to 3.8% whilst Lagers are generally 4.0% to 4.8% the same as the Marco Lagers. And what’s more in Ireland the Barley is generally Irish, made by Irish workers, labels by Irish producers with the only imports being the Bottles and the Hops. Some breweries, like Wicklow Wolf produce a small quantity of their own hops in Locavore - a fantastic seasonal beer.
"I don't pay for music. It’s not worth it when I can stream it"
Then don’t pay for the music! If you like the Artist, share what they do on social media. Go to their gig! Stop at the Merch stand and see if something floats your boat. In the long run this will matter more to the Artist. Just like Beer there isn’t one choice and your hard earned wonga will land in the right places if you want it to!
This Christmas have a think about the little circle that society has. Where do you fit in? Are you taking in or giving back? Nobody is asking you to go all out with this. But it would be nice to imagine where that Euro actually goes just before you buy.
For a list of truly independent beer producers check out BEOIR. Don’t get hoodwinked by the big boys!
Happy Listening and Boozing this Christmas,