Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi) on "pay what you want" show archives

In this Mother Jones video interview, Ian MacKaye, co-founder of Dischord Records, discusses why he decided to offer the Fugazi show archives on a pay-what-you-want scale, but did not offer them online for free. Here's a longer-form text piece about MacKaye at MoJo.

A visceral, passionate, politically astute post-punk band that spurned music industry conventions, capping ticket prices at around $5 and insisting on playing for all-ages crowds, Fugazi won over hordes of loyal fans and helped kick off a nationwide movement of DIY bands and record labels. Fugazi and Dischord were living proof that starting your own band, making your own records, and booking your own shows worked. "It was the label that was very exciting at the time," says Ian Svenonius, whose former bands the Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up released several albums on Dischord in the '80s and '90s. "It had a staunchly anti-commercial outlook and it was explicitly independent and local."

MacKaye at Dischord HQ (photo: Mother Jones)


  1. “I encourage all people to accept the mantle as patron of the arts.”  That is a persuasive statement, at least it persuades me.  It re-frames the payment vs no payment discussion in a way I can accept.    Is it persuasive to other people? 

    1. Yes, it is. I’ll admit a pro-MacKaye bias, but I think it would be regardless. I’m submitting to voluntary taxation (yeah, yeah) by buying a couple Powerball tickets. If I won I’d definitely play trustee to this indefinitely… and buy a house, too, later.  

  2. As a practicing Anarcho-Syndicalist, this fully suits the criteria of my value system. I take the art I like, and after assessment, I pay the artists what I feel it is worth. This month I stuffed forty bucks in Cory’s pocket for the pleasure of reading his stuff for free. 

    Really, it’s the only way to reward artists honestly. And good ones do deserve honest rewards. 

  3. This is a really cool post. Minor Threat was a favorite band of mine when I was a teen in the 80’s…and later Fugazi. 

    It’s funny, I was at my parents house today moving their LP’s from one room to another and I found like 50 albums I thought I had lost (30 I can lay uncontested claim to, IYKWIM.) Sadly, Minor Threat wasn’t there – and I was looking…Fugazi, like an idiot I only had cassettes.Xeni – thanks so much for posting this, you’re the greatest (as always) !

  4. In a crate in my closet, I have some Hi8 footage I shot of Fugazi playing in Knoxville, maybe ’95ish.  Somehow Dischord heard about it and wanted it because Ian put some dumbass kid in a headlock at that show.  Of course, my *fucking* battery died before that happened, so they passed.  In an alternate reality, y’all could be downloading my tape from Dischord now :(

    1.  Dude, there’s a scene in Instrument where MacKaye gets a guy in a headlock and drags him off-stage.  You should take a look to see if it’s the same show.  Maybe they got footage from someone else?

  5. I’m tired of these liberals always defending Obama and his lies.  We need to hear the truth about what happened in Fugazi and why the Kenyan Pretender did nothing to stop our ambassador and three more Americans from getting murdered.

  6. Fugazi: The CIA kidnapped their families and forced them to go on “hiatus” so they would not be able to incite the anarchic revolution that was surely right down the road. Libya: It was a slow news cycle and the pathological paranoid conspiracy theorists needed grist for their mill. In order to get them to stop obsessing on the Fugazi break-up, they tossed them a few bureaucrats. Happy now?

  7. I haven’t downloaded any of the shows yet but I did pick up three of the live CDs they released a few years ago–one early, one mid, and one late. I need to try to figure out which shows I went to and try to download those.

    Just picked up the latest release from the Evens. Sure it’s a lot mellower, but it’s a good sound for just guitar, drums, and vocal.

  8. See?  This is reasonable, and it doesn’t involve Fugazi shaking a cup of change at me on the street.

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