[caption id="attachment_26655" align="alignnone" width="445" caption="SHARPLESS | Photo by Killian Young"]
In today’s changing music industry, nice guys finish first. These guys have a new name: “beta males.” Through their uniqueness, beta males build rapport with their listeners on a level alpha males can never achieve because they’re too concerned with themselves.
“There’s less and less room for people who want to make average music for average people,” says Brian Mazzaferri, lead singer for Chicago alternative band I Fight Dragons
. “[There are] a lot more rising places for people who want to make unique music for unique people.”
But who is a beta male?
A 2008 New York Times article
describes him as “that gentle, endearingly awkward, self-conscious soul for whom love is a battlefield.”
“I’ve never sort of thought of myself as the dominant alpha male persona,” Mazzaferri says. “[I’m just] very much more somebody who will win through being smarter and just more persistent, never giving up and thinking of the best way to do things.”
Mazzaferri cites his band’s unique personality as its strongest feature. I Fight Dragons plays “chiptune” music that integrates Nintendo sound effects into its music. Mazzaferri passionately croons, “We were the ones you used to make fun of/We stayed at home alone instead of falling in love” in the band’s song entitled “The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth.”
Ben Huh, founder of the website icanhascheezburger.com
, said to an audience at Northwestern University that the future of journalism hinges on news outlets delivering unique content to niche audiences, much like beta male music does. Television has made this change, and people pay great sums of money for access to cable networks, Huh explained.
The music industry is now in the midst of a similar shift.
“We’re the beta males of the music industry,” Mazzaferri says. “But yeah, at the same time, I feel like we enjoy being unique.”
I Fight Dragons exemplifies the rise of the first generation of musicians who actively grew up in the video gaming culture, as the band’s chiptune video game style shines through. These are the kids whose childhoods were defined by “Mario” and “Final Fantasy” who now are primed to influence the musical world.
“I feel like emotionally, a lot of people are connected to those sounds,” Mazzaferri says, “in a way that opens them up a little bit, which is kind of cool. And people are more willing to—I don’t know—feel more adventurous.”
Chicago indie band Sharpless
reflects the beta male (and female) personas of its members from its name to its lyrics, and everything in between. Sharpless’ lead singer and guitarist, Jack Greenleaf says the band’s name derives from a character of the same name in Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Madame Butterfly.” In the opera, Sharpless is the unassuming and defeatist sidekick of the main character.
“Sharpless definitely translates into beta male,” Greenleaf says.
But Greenleaf says there are advantages to being a beta male, and that there’s an endearing quality to people with beta personalities.
“It’s one of those things where the only interesting people are the really weird ones,” Greenleaf says. “Like all the socially awkward people. Those are all my friends; they’re all like…we’re all socially awkward. But they’re the most fun people to talk to.”
Greenleaf says he places a premium on “being genuine and insightful and honest,” which builds his connections with his audience.
“Include people,” Greenleaf says. “Don’t push people out.”
In a time in which mainstream musical personalities and egos explode, the beta male offers much more for the listener with a unique personality and individualized tastes.
As for beta males leading the music world into the future, the possibilities are endless.
“Epic things are possible,” Mazzaferri says. “Epic things are happening.”