In 2020, amidst the chaos of a global pandemic, Tom Barber of Chelsea Grin and Josh “Baby J” formerly of Emmure, now Spite joined forces to create their metalcore project Darko US – an innovative collaboration that has only grown in strength over time.
Since releasing their debut single “Electric Body” back in April 2020 they have released two albums; Darko (2021) and Oni (2022) and have collaborated with the likes of Ben Duerr (Shadow Of Intent) and Darius Tehrani (Spite), Ryo Kinoshita (Crystal Lake) Kyle Anderson (Brand of Sacrifice) amongst many more.
Crushing music aside, what sets Darko US aside from other bands in the scene is they don’t tour and currently have no plans to tour.
Despite not taking the band out on the road as is usually the norm for any new band looking to build a fan base, Darko US have managed to amass 594k listeners on Spotify, 42k Instagram followers, millions of views on YouTube and consistently sells out merch on their store.
With this in mind, are we about to see more bands opt to stay at home rather than grind it out on the road?
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Do new bands need to tour anymore to build a fanbase?
Whilst we as fans may not like it, the answer to that is no, bands now don’t need to tour to make money.
We all know streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have low royalty payout rates, and if you then also have to split that revenue with management and label, you’ll need to be hitting some huge numbers to make that whole ecosystem work.
But if a band can stay independent and keep their overheads low by making their music available on these platforms, it’s now possible to reach a global audience and generate revenue from fans all over the world without ever having to leave your bedroom. Add in merch sales, sponsorships, and maybe a Twitch stream and you’re potentially looking to generate enough revenue to pay the bills, something many established bands in the metal scene still struggles with to this day.
Is live music dying?
While live music has certainly faced some challenges in recent years, it is still a hugely popular form of entertainment and a major industry. You’ll only have to take a quick glance at the pace of which tickets sold for Spiritbox, Blink-182 and Download Festival to see there’s still a huge demand for live music. The joy and experience of a live show are second to none, but with increased costs and venues closing down, the opportunities for musicians to perform live are decreasing each year.
Of course, like any industry, the live music scene is constantly evolving and there may be changes in the future. However, as it stands it’s unlikely that live music will disappear completely, but it’s certainly going through the biggest change in a generation.
YouTuber Finn Mckenty recently delved further into this, in his video “TIKTOK IS KILLING LIVE MUSIC”
Can streaming save live music?
Anyone who’s been in a band or worked in a venue will tell you there’s nothing worse than playing to 5 people in a 500-cap room. If artists can build up fanbases online like Darko US before venturing into the live scene, perhaps they’ll be more people excited for gigs as they’ve become familiar with the music and are excited to see songs they already know live.
Streaming alone is not likely to be a “savior” for live music, but in a world where everything is more expensive, perhaps it makes sense to build a strong social following before stepping out onto the stage, rather than grinding it out 5 fans at a time in a splitter van costing thousands before you’ve even left the driveway…