Underground Currents Change Music Scene

Senior Liam Dunlap’s project “Color Hue” got considerable attention on Soundcloud, gaining over 315,000 plays.

In recent years, dozens of musicians have become critically acclaimed with only a laptop in hand. And for every successful artist, there are thousands of bedroom musicians with small and dedicated followings.

Most established underground artists know how to promote themselves. Senior Liam Dunlap is one of them. While active, his project “Color Hue” got considerable attention on Soundcloud, gaining over 315,000 plays.

According to Dunlap, success isn’t always about musical ability.

“It’s becoming less about your actual skill as an artist and more about your time management, output, and most of all — luck,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap credits his success to his connections with others in the Soundcloud community.

“Before I even had a song out, I reached out to a couple up-and-coming artists who gave me a footing and helped me create my first album. Reposts from other artists and friends definitely help,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap worked on “Color Hue” for over a year, but he has recently set it aside in order to focus on post-production and live performance.

“I don’t make music as ‘Color Hue’ anymore, even though it was surprisingly successful for my first try at posting music,” Dunlap said. “Moving forward, my biggest goals would be playing live shows and learning more about mixing.”

Zack Beitel, a 19-year-old Seattle-based musician, has experience with releasing music, and is known for his association with Brockhampton and Tyler The Creator. His new album, “Scathe,” was met with general acclaim.

Surprisingly, “Scathe” is only available digitally. The idea of releasing physical copies is an appealing way for Beitel to present his work, but as a freshman in college, he has to consider supply and demand.

“It’s really an artistic decision as much as it’s the buyer’s decision, that is if they want to buy a vinyl or CD or whatever,” Beitel said. “It’s an interesting and alternate approach to sharing music, which is cool, but it’s expensive. If I tried making physical copies, it wouldn’t be till later.”

Some artists sign to internet labels when they want funding for physical releases. Beitel is looking to online labels.

“Independent labels are cool and are a great way to get distribution,” Beitel said.

For Beitel, it isn’t just about getting his music heard — it’s about compiling his music with other respected artists.

“There are a couple labels who I’d love to work with, and I appreciate any labels who compile a variety of different artists and create a unique sound for themselves,” Beitel said.

Both Dunlap and Beitel have high hopes for the future. Dunlap’s experience in the Soundcloud community has influenced him to become involved in other parts of the industry.

“I want my career to be 100 percent music incorporated,” Dunlap said. “Whether that be producing for films or recording live shows, just something to do with it.”

Like Dunlap, Beitel is open-minded about the future of his career.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to support myself doing something that allows for creativity and new ideas. That’s the ultimate goal,” Beitel said.


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