Distros. The new wave in online independent distribution. Sites run by committed individuals with a passion for spreading the “word”. In this case the “word” would be the DIY scene.
Do-It-Yourself is a movement that came into full force in the 1970’s. Punk rockers were looking for a way to express their individuality. Sure, the music was unique, but the style had to be even bigger! DIY was just the thing to make a statement. By taking normal clothes (usually acquired through thrift stores) and ripping, tearing, patching and safety pinning, the punks invented a new way to dress.
This new movement gave an outlet to artists that would have otherwise been lost in the shuffle. The crowning acheivement of DIY was the invention of the ‘zine. The ability to make a magazine about anything they wanted was the ultimate DIY experience. While writing, publishing and copying the ‘zine was an easy task, distributing it was often a nightmare. Even when there were friends to help, the ‘zine never got much further than a mile or two away from the printing press.
Another feather in the cap of DIY is the independent music scene. Punk rockers were tired of record labels telling them what to write and who to gear it towards. With this in mind they began breaking out of the norm and starting up their own labels. The indie bands of today owe everything to the DIY punks that started the trend away from the major record labels. Without the indie labels and the college radio stations, underground music would stay so far out of site that even the hippest music lover would be hard pressed to find it.
Coming full circle from then to now, distros give ‘zine publishers and indie musicians a chance to share their art outside the local scene. Some of the more involved distros even include great craft items like buttons and stickers.
In a world of fashionable commercialism, the distros are keeping the independent DIY spirit alive. If you want to buy something truly one-of-a-kind and sometimes subversive, check them out. Or, better yet, make your own DIY creations and start a distro. After all, it isn’t punk rock if you don’t DIY!!!