Fifteen years ago, white power music ( aka hate rock) moved from the margins to the cultural mainstream of North America’s growing white nationalist movement. 1994 was the year that George Burdi (who has since renounced his neo-Nazi beliefs) incorporated Resistance Records and cornered what was a lucrative and growing market. At its peak, thirty-four music acts were part of the Resistance Records stable, raising over $300,000 in funds for the larger white nationalist movement.
Things have changed remarkably for white power music in the last fifteen years. Today’s white power bands rely less on record labels for publicity and embrace their own DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic, creating profiles on Facebook, MySpace and music videos on YouTube.
Larger changes in American society, such as the sharing of digital music, have also impacted white power labels and musicians, decreasing their profit margins significantly. White power music distributors also now find themselves in a competition for dollars with mainstream distributors like Amazon.com and iTunes, which are willing to distribute the soundtrack to the white revolution. Resistance Records itself has ebbed and flowed (mostly ebbed), changed hands (many times), and even has its own more successful competitors (Tightrope and Micetrap Records).
Genres are widening, as well. Oi! and Punk, the traditional music genres of burgeoning young white nationalists in the 90s, have learned to share the stage and the white power music market with growing subgenres like National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM), techno, rockabilly, grindcore and even folk bands. Hate groups recognize that alienated white youth, their most promising potential recruits, can be found across music subcultures, and they market accordingly.
Perhaps the largest single successful change for white power music in the United States may be that for both its adherents and the broader public, it no longer holds the mystique it once had. During the 2000s, white power music quietly reworked its image in an effort to carry it into the mainstream. A hate group in Pennsylvania successfully books both white power and ostensibly nonpolitical bands for a weekend festival. And more white power bands can be found on the world’s largest online music retailers.
Regardless of these changes, one thing has remained constant – music is still one of the most effective vehicles of recruitment for the white nationalists. Bryant Cecchini, owner of Tightrope Records and purveyor of the second Project Schoolyard compilation recruitment vehicle, explained the power of putting the white power message to music concisely: “If you put it to music, they’ll listen to it twice before breakfast every day.”
For music fans, bands, stores, venues and labels, it is time to reinforce the culture of anti-bigotry. It is not an issue of banning free-speech for the white power music scene, but instead an opportunity to both utilize our own right to speak out and to make informed choices. To assist anyone and everyone who cares enough about music and wants to keep hate groups from hijacking our scenes, the Turn It Down Campaign released a list of white power bands active in the United States. This week, the Campaign will release an updated version of this map. It will include white nationalist bands that have recorded, toured, or otherwise actively promoted themselves within the past three years.
Stay tuned to Imagine 2050 or send us an email at [email protected] to request printed copies of the new map.
It is our hope that bands, venues, promoters, parents, teachers and most importantly fans can use this list to maintain a better awareness of the potential presence of hate groups. We do not seek to censor these bands; we strongly advocate free speech rights. We also advocate a community’s right to take a stand against the spread of hate. More than anything, the Turn It Down Campaign believes in the power of communities – composed of every facet of the music industry and its audiences – as the most effective tool in keeping hate out of our scenes.