An Interview With the Founder of Santa Barbara’s Newest and Fastest Growing Music Collective, Sound & Society.
I spoke with former SBCC student and the founder of the Santa Barbara music collective Sound & Society, Nick Johnson. We discussed what Sound & Society is all about and how he wants to cultivate a community in Santa Barbara dedicated to music, for the musicians.
“I want to flip the industry on its head…”
What is Sound & Society?
At the most basic level of such a convoluted, intricate idea, basically it is the idea of people working together to achieve goals that are beyond our own individual means. We pull events together, get artists recognized and just work together to make things awesome. Our angle is to eventually help politicize important social happenings going on in community. We are making baby steps towards that. Essentially, Sound & Society is me, and 20 others all devoting time and money into a project that is meant to create an open collective for anyone in Santa Barbara that loves music to join. People are ready to quit their jobs and just focus on Sound & Society because it is really taking off and has a powerful element that people are attracted to. I don’t even ask that from them. We are just a group all trying to push ideas forward.
When did it start?
It started 6 years ago. I started out by doing events. The brand recently took shape, probably around 2 years ago. When I first moved to sb, I saw all of the students and the nightlife and thought it was so cool, but I couldn’t find any opportunities for myself. I would ask why, why is it so difficult to get my chance in the music scene. So I decided to do something about it, change things.
Change things how?
My principles come from doing events within the underground rave scene up in the Bay Area. A lot of people have been marginalized as musicians. [Artists] are trying to learn individually how to get connected and how to gain a following; this is the back end work that creates the long term results. The music industry is very exclusive I feel. There are a lot of egos I feel is the case. I want to make it inclusive. I want to be a source for artists to have a chance to make a name for themselves in Santa Barbara and really take the music back to the people. Everyone deserves a chance to showcase their ability. I really want to flip industry on its head.
What is happening with Sound & Society right now?
A lot. Right now we are doing monthly big events, mostly at M8RX. It’s important right now for us to fund enough events to register as hybrid non-profit/for-profit business. We are trying to establish musical releases, not necessarily as a label but more as artist promotion. Soon we’re releasing a video that goes against the noise ordinance for Halloween in Isla Vista, look for that on our facebook. It is important to have a voice in the student body, and to have a whole holiday shutdown is not acceptable.
Where do you see Sound & Society in the future
As a business, throwing large events; thousands of dollars, festival style rather than venue style. We are so focused on events because imagine having a music festival with the right intentions. Everyone together paying attention right there in that moment of space to create community change. That is awesome to me. In the long run we will give earth to a lot of sub-cultural things. What I don’t like is the segmented marketplace designated to specific genres. Everyone listens to all different things; genres are important to find music, but we want to move away from that. Look at Sony Paramount and Universal. They cover every aspect of music. We don’t want to necessarily become a record label. Our purpose is we want to make it possible for people to do things so beyond their means by just working together, coming together as a collective.
How can people help out?
How anyone can help is to like and follow our pages. Through our page please contact us and ask how to get involved. We want to work with everyone that we can. Our biggest challenge right now is selling out every show. We want to maintain our lane and keep pushing forward. We know people will catch on and it will hit an upward spiral after we get traction and more people find out.