I first heard of the Arctic Monkeys in high school, around 2010. They quickly became one of my favorite bands. All their albums were consistent, and the music was great.
I was very surprised they weren’t that big in the United States. Although I felt cool for knowing of them while the rest didn’t, it was very surprising to me they weren’t that popular …and then 2012 came. Bro. Their song “R U Mine?” came out as a single and then the next year their album was released. The Arctic Monkeys became unavoidable. They were EVERYWHERE and I loved it. I still remember when a college friend handed me a home-burned CD (yes, we still rocked CDs in 2013) of the newly released album “AM” and I literally played it in my car for about 4 months straight. I didn’t switch to another CD. I didn’t put the radio on. I never turned off the stereo. I didn’t skip songs; I would only rewind the song when I thought I didn’t fully appreciate a certain part because I was distracted with driving. I did this for months. It became an inside joke with my close friends, like if we were going out and I offered to drive, my friend would say, “let me guess…we’re gonna listen to AM all the way there.” He was correct. As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of the Arctic Monkeys.
So how did some kids from Sheffield, England become one of the most iconic rock acts of today? …and how can you do it too? I will answer these two questions and enjoy some music while we’re at it.
Actually, before we get started…If you don’t know who the Arctic Monkeys are, there’s a high probability that you’ve heard their music on TikTok, YouTube, or the good old radio. Like I mentioned, 2013 was the year they became world stars. However, just in case you’re not sure, here are their two most popular songs, today:
Do I Wanna Know?
Okay, now we’re on the same page.
So how different are the Arctic Monkeys from us? Not much, Alex Turner (singer/guitar) met Matt Helders (drums) when he was seven since they lived nearby. They met Andy Nicholson (bass) in middle school and Jamie Cook (guitar) was Turner’s neighbor. The story goes that one Christmas, Turner and Cook were gifted guitars. At this time, Turner, Helders, and Nicholson were making beats of their own since they were hip-hop fans, but when Turner got his guitar, it got him into songwriting. Naturally, they formed the band in 2002. This is a very traditional way of starting a band. As a matter of fact, I also had a high school band that I started with friends. So, you can start your own band too. Just grab a couple of friends that play instruments and there you go. You’re now like the Arctic Monkeys…sort of.
Rehearsal Room Gig circa 2003
What the Monkeys did after starting the band is what made their music career and changed their lives forever, so pay attention. After playing their first couple shows, they recorded demos of their songs at a local recording studio. Then, they made CDs of the demo collection. These CDs were made to be given away at shows and so they did. Some of the fans who received the CD started file-sharing. This was super common when I was in school. I would burn CDs and share it with my friends. That’s how I met one of my closest friends. We listened to similar music and found out he didn’t have Nirvana’s “In Utero” so I burned him a copy. Anyways, this is how I discovered new music. I would borrow and lend music through CDs, USB drives, or emails. Probably illegal but we thought it was okay. The Arctic Monkeys' fans at the time did the same and helped boost the band's popularity. They also created a MySpace (remember MySpace?) page for them, which blew up and the band didn’t even know!
Arctic Monkeys' MySpace Music page
You only have to inspire ONE person. We always think of likes, streams, shares, tickets sold, etc. but it all starts with one person. It takes one person to be inspired to share your music with their friends, to post it online, to write about you, to tell their friend who knows a “guy.” This was key for the Monkeys' early career.
Also, I said this in a past post and I’ll say it again. The internet is your best friend. Artists are made on the internet and there will always be a new platform to become viral on. Artists like OneRepublic, Billie Eilish, and Cuco were made from the internet. The Arctic Monkeys had MySpace back them, and today, they are still being discovered by new fans on TikTok.
This song became viral on MySpace in 2006. Apologize by OneRepublic.
Billie Eilish went viral on SoundCloud 5 years ago with the song "Ocean Eyes."
Cuco became popular with “Lover Is A Day” on Soundcloud, 5 year ago as well.
sundiver ca, a local band here in the Inland Empire has gone viral on TikTok with their song "Soundtrack for Your Backseat."
The Arctic Monkeys are becoming popular again among teens with their song "505" thanks to TikTok.
In conclusion, there will always be new ways to discover new music. Just think of the many ways you have found some of your now favorite artists. The Arctic Monkeys benefited from music discovery practices in 2003 with file sharing and MySpace just like Billie Eilish did 5 years ago with SoundCloud and how new artists are becoming household names today with TikTok. That’s how you can grow like the Arctic Monkeys. The world is ever changing and the internet is too but a million times faster so it’s a matter of finding a new platform and with a little luck you might become a well-known world class act. In the meantime, we can daydream.
Thanks for letting me geek out with you. As a thank you I will now post some of my favorite Arctic Monkeys videos:
R U Mine? | One of the coolest music videos out there. Simple and complex at the same time.
Fluorescent Adolescent | This shows their quirky personality and this song was their hit in Europe, years before they became huge in the United States.
Hold On, We're Going Home (Drake Cover) | They do their own twist on a Drake hit.
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala Cover) | As you can tell, they are good at covering songs with their signature Arctic Monkeys style.
Hiding Tonight (Alex Turner for Submarine soundtrack) | This is a solo project of Alex Turner. He made the soundtrack for the movie "Submarine" which is a great coming-of-age movie. I highly recommend it, along with the soundtrack.