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'indie' or Not?

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'Indie' or not?

Ever heard of the band 'Death Cab for Cutie'? Despite their surging popularity, they still have managed to dodge the 'sell-out' label and retain their long time devoted fans. They are only one of the many Indie bands who have risen to mass popularity throughout the world. Indie music gains more and more exposure daily and will continue to scale the charts, but only depending on whether the bands want to keep their true identity as an Indie band. Although so many bands and artists characterize themselves as Indie, only a part of those truly deserve the title, describing an Independent label.

Indie music exists to have many different interpretations and meanings, yet the original and most accurate being that of having an independent music label. Indie music strives to separate the 'good' from the 'popular'. It strives to stand as not simply an 'alternative to', but 'independent of' the "economic and political forces, as well as the value systems and aesthetic criteria, of large-scale production" (Hibbett). Indie bands are usually classified as so due to their organization of their own personal music label and funding of everything, including their CD productions and touring, solely by themselves. Through funding everything themselves, they are able to keep all of their profits for themselves and cut out the middle man. Many indie bands choose to become independent in hopes to dodge becoming a 'sell-out' to a major record label and losing their true identity. The only downfall to this stands to be that they're "not the top priority and even with the best of relationships".

Unknown to most, Indie music has existed for quite a while. It originally began in the late sixties and started as an underground music scene. They wanted to establish their own brand, one that was independent of outside help (Martens). One such example, the Velvet Underground, stood as an edgier and poorly received alternative to the ever popular Beatles (Hibbett). Artists such as this followed, with songs too alternative to be played on the larger radio stations and too rebellious for an older audience. The bands usually gained what fan base they had through their publicity on the local college radio stations. Fan groups for indie bands always seem to be very devoted and they help to build up the underground support for the band. One of the major marketing techniques that indie bands use is word-of-mouth through their faithful fans (Serrick). We owe a lot of the growth of most indie bands to their loyal and vigilant fans.

Indie music has fans of all ages, yet it is primarily focused towards a 'much younger demographic' (Cohen). Younger individuals always seem to like the alternative style and somewhat bold nature of the music. They become fans and bring others into the indie music scene. Because of the bold nature of some indie bands and their music, people tend to gain opinions on certain subjects they otherwise wouldn't have noticed. People's taste for the music, as well as other controversial things, are influenced and changed completely at times. This simply proves what power music can have. The crowds have become as diverse as the new crops of indie bands (Dawes). There usually isn't a large grey area when it comes to indie music. Either people aren't interested, or they become diehard fans. This stands as an example of something that contributes to the whole underground style of indie music.

From some of the first indie bands, such as The Velvet Underground, to indie bands today, Death Cab for Cutie, the indie style and connotation has changed and developed tremendously (Walter). Indie music now constitutes approximately 23% of total music sales globally (Hibbett). Some bands which start out as indie, end up selling out to large music labels as they gain popularity. They still consider themselves 'indie', yet don't really fit the definition of the term anymore. Indie now has a connotation with it of a specific genre of music. This is most likely due to the majority of indie bands having a similar sound and style. The genre known as 'indie' encompasses such a broad variety of styles and approaches. More and more bands enter into this genre every day.

The indie music today has the same basis as when it began, yet is still different in so many ways. With its booming popularity



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