The music industry has always kept the same big artists at the top, and ever rarely let an underground artist blow up. It seems that within the past decade or so, a new collaborative hit from DJ Khaled, a record breaking track by Drake, or the same run of a mill song by Taylor Swift is topping the music billboards. These popular artists are choking out the small music makers in nearly every genre. However, some believe it’s time for the indie artist or underground experimental group to shine, and this sentiment is shared by many, especially Mark Bayer, an AP Human Geography teacher at McKinney High school.
First of all, who even is this ‘Mark Bayer?’ Well, he’s a human geography teacher who has been at McKinney High school for 12 years, and has become a favorite teacher in the eyes of many. When it comes to taste in music, Mark Bayer’s favorite genre is indie rock including the likes of “Arcade fire, Modest Mouse, the shins, and the Flaming lips.” His fondness towards this genre and artists aren’t shared by his students, who “don’t understand what [he’s] saying” when he mentions his favorite musicians and bands. However, there is an almost “secret club of people that know and recommend good stuff.”
Today’s music is filled with millions of pros and cons that seem to support small artists in one light and completely stomp them out in another. Mark Bayer enjoys the fact that current bands and artists have the ability to “carve out their own niche.” Musicians such as Superorganism and Tank and the Bangas would never be able to exist and grow in the past, due to how experimental and different they are. With music playing apps such as Spotify and Apple Music, it seems as if anyone can find an artist they can relate to or fall in love with a new genre of music. Today’s accessibility to millions upon millions of songs has cause a great shift in musical influence from what was once underground and what was popular as the two have blended, leading to alternative influence for many popular artists such as Drake and Bruno Mars. However, these artists are still at the top and the indie musicians who they pulled inspiration from are barely getting by.
This feeling of resentment towards underground musicians being exploited for their work is shared by Mark Bayer, who hates the fact that these “artists are not earning from the public, but mostly from ticket sales.” Bayer even brings up an excellent point that mainstream popular music, “lacks depth and is corporatized.” This highlights the fact that today’s music is only a way to make tons of money that has little meaning behind it and not an avenue to fully express one’s feelings or beliefs. However this doesn’t mean that Mark Bayer is some hipster who wants his favorite band to stay underground, instead he “wants his favorite bands to get big.” This belief brings great insight to the fact that smaller artists shouldn’t stay small and unknown. If these hidden gems blew up, their fanbase would grow and their music would have the chance to affect tons of new people.
From going to small smoke-filled venues when he was younger or using Mongolian rapping to make learning fun and interesting, music has played a massive role in Mark Bayer’s life. Throughout the interview, it was apparent that ‘looking out for the little guy’ was an important part of Bayer’s musical beliefs. This attitude and sentiment towards the music scene should be carried by everyone, since it preserves amazing underground artists and can even help them grow, influencing even more people’s taste in music.