NYC band sets example for independent artists

March 5, 2014

via Facebook.com

The Met brothers, otherwise known as AJR, claimed a home-field advantage in New York as they played before an audience at Gramercy Theater on Feb. 19.

Adam, Jack and Ryan Met make up AJR, a band that has spent much of their career playing before strangers rather than fans. They began performing in Washington Square Park about eight years ago. Jack Met, the youngest brother, explained the band’s musical style.

“[Our music combines] genres of old ’60s music and newer, contemporary hip-hop,” Jack Met said.

AJR has produced songs that pay tribute to their childhood in New York City such as “Growing Old on Bleecker Street.” Jack Met said performances in Washington Square Park were extremely nerve-wracking. Now the Met brothers are rarely nervous, as they have faced the challenges of performing to no audience and, perhaps worse, performing to an audience of unimpressed New Yorkers.

AJR’s independent mentality sets them apart from other pop groups and they are refreshingly down-to-earth, not taking their success for granted.

Recently, Macklemore set the precedent for independent artists by avoiding mainstream record labels, but middle brother Ryan Met said AJR had been self-producing well before Macklemore came into the limelight.

Though Ryan Met said Macklemore has been a person to look up to, he acknowledged that many other artists have been successfully independent in hip-hop. Rap artists have the freedom to constantly release mixtapes but, from Ryan Met’s perspective, AJR could be considered the first pop group to do so.

Without a label’s guidance, AJR’s career has been propelled by social media and their fans — as of now, they have nearly 52,000 Facebook likes. Last year, the Washington Post compared them to the Jonas Brothers, but the Met brothers said they are paving their own path.

While Ryan Met said he and his brothers face financial challenges, he noted that the freedom they have as independent artists cannot be beat.

“We’re our own bosses,” he said. “So, we don’t have to check with anyone. We can just put out any music that we want, and that’s a good feeling.”

The brothers said that they are not opposed to record labels and could see themselves signing a deal in the future. But, for now, Adam Met said they want to see how much momentum they are able to gain without a record label.

AJR is slowly but surely moving up in the industry. They have performed alongside the likes of Hoodie Allen, Demi Lovato and the Wanted and their music video for “I’m Ready” has accumulated over 800,000 views on YouTube.

Maintaining humility and taking pride in their dedication, AJR demonstrates that, with time, it has the potential to set a precedent of its own, blazing a trail for future independent artists.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, March 5 print edition. Alexa Spieler is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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