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Plástica Magazine Shines Spotlight on Independent Spanish-Language Music

Plástica [es], currently edited by Eduardo Lindes Burnao [es] and Ricardo Cavolo [es] is an international journal specializing in the independent Spanish-language music scene. More than just a magazine, Plástica is a project that focuses on high quality, creative music that is capable of competing with the dominant English-language culture. In addition to promoting new alternative artists, it organizes musical events and produces Latin musicians. It was established in Madrid in 2009 and focuses on countries in which there may be undiscovered Hispanic talent, like in Latin America, the United States and Europe.

Only a digital version of the magazine currently exists, which has more than 5,000 followers on Facebook and over 11,000 on Twitter, the two most popular social networks. Lindes and Cavolo's goal is to expand its readership beyond a digital audience, so they will launch the first paper edition of the magazine [es] in 2013. This surprising decision goes against the tide at a time when the general media trend is to question the need for a printed edition and maintain a publication online.

More details on the magazine's new approach are discussed in the video below [es]:

This new challenge will strengthen the magazine and improve its quality, but it cannot succeed without the help of its followers. Thus, the Plástica team opted for an increasingly popular option: crowdfunding (collective or mass financing using the Internet). Using the site My Major Company as a platform and having launched an advocacy campaign, Plástica has started to raise the public funds it needs to meet its goals and expand in the market. Donations, which can be 10, 25 or 50 euros, both support the project and guarantee that readers will receive the magazine at home no matter where they live.

It is not the first time that crowdfunding has been used to promote emerging musicians while avoiding the major producers and marketing of the music industry. One example is Madrid-based band La Malarazza [es], which released a self-produced album in 2009 under a Creative Commons license and a second album financed with crowdfunding, which has the advantage of allowing a musician to raise money in advance of release, hopefully avoiding the debt sustained by artists with few resources.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with members of La Malarazza that was published on the blog Vivir Entre Música [es] and describes the situation that independent musicians find themselves in:

- ¿Cómo veis el mundo de la música?

Quizás yo creo que el momento en el que hemos salido, es un momento en que es muy difícil que los grupos salgan. Hay otro grupo que es muy bueno y te recomiendo que es Alpargata que empezaron a la vez que nosotros y no han conseguido entrar en el circuito porque está completamente para abajo. No están fichando grupos nuevos y la industria musical en estos años se ha venido para abajo. No está apostando por nueva música más que por cosas muy explosivas. En general, si lo piensas, grupos así de música mestiza de los últimos años hay muy pocos. Por ejemplo, están Canteca de Macao que se hicieron famosos unos años antes que empezáramos nosotros.

Aparte, yo creo que hay que tener suerte. Nosotros tenemos un público muy de barrio. Nos conocen en círculos muy reducidos aquí en Madrid y en algún sitio más, un poco en Bilbao; muy limitado.

- Pero, ¿siguen quedando oportunidades? ¿Hay esperanza?

¿Esperanza para qué? Para tocar sí, es decir, para ganar dinero es para lo que está muy difícil. La gente que vive de esto ahora mismo normalmente es gente que toca en varios grupos a la vez, que además da clases, etc. Pero hay muy poca gente viviendo sólo de sus canciones.

- How do you see the music world?

I think maybe the place we've just emerged from is a very difficult spot for musicians to get past. There is another great group that I recommend which is Alpargata [es], and they started at the same time that we did and they haven't been able to enter the scene because it's all gone downhill. They aren't signing new groups and the music industry at this time has gone downhill. They're not betting on new music except for really bombastic stuff. In general, if you think about it, there have been very few mixed genre groups in the last few years. For example, there's Canteca de Macao [es], who got famous a few years before we started out.

Besides, I think you have to be lucky. We have an audience from the neighborhood. We're known in smaller circles here in Madrid and elsewhere, a bit in Bilbao; very local.

- But are there still opportunities? Is there hope?

Hope for what? To play music, yes, that is, making money is what's difficult. People making a living doing this right now are usually musicians who play in several bands, who teach classes, etc. But there are very few people making a living on their songs alone.

Plástica is a global project, but there are other similar local initiatives, like Frecuencia Urbana [es] a space created to give visibility to Madrid-based alternative and emerging musicians.

The Internet is the ideal space to host these kinds of projects, far from the mainstream media circuit and dominant cultural industries, to lend a hand to young artists and new talent. Once a cultural medium is established on the web, one can always increase its quality and put out new editions, as Plástica has decided to do next year. With the spread of channels of alternative cultural information, those musicians that have been most overlooked by the market can increase their presence as well.

* Photo taken from video [es].

  • vivirentremusica

    I’m the author of La Malarazza’s interview. Thanks for sharing! vivirentremusica.com is focused on giving voice to small groups and alternative groups who invest in sharing their music as well as oportunities in the music world

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