#1
sorry that this question is so stupid but I seriously have no idea. Some of my fave bands are indie (Spoon+Secret Life of Sofia) but I have no idea what it means. I mean they're not popular which was what I thought what indie meant but what happens when a band get's popular they're just not indie anymore? Like I thought that Phoenix was indie but I guess not. It's so confusing any help here with clear explanations?
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#2
The term "indie" is one that gets thrown around way too much. Its based off of Independent filmakers making movies. There movies were then referred to as "Indies." It should mean bands that don't have a big label behind them. If you play only small clubs and coffee houses, or are signed to a small label then you are most likely alllowed under the indie umberella. However, the term has kind of morphed into a throw all term for anything that isnt mainstream, and has also been attached to certain kinds of music such as singer/songwriters, the one guy with an acoustic guitar sound. Basically though, if you are not played on the radio someone will probably think its ok to call you an indie band, but thats not really what it is.
#3
Usually an indie band will be signed to an independent label or self-produce their album. Indie basically is anything not mainstream, creative, and the bands aren't sellouts.
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#4
See, right there is the problem, gatechballer way of thinking is why the term has been so glorified. "Bands that arn't sellouts"? I guarantee if Sony had approached them and asked them to sign their first response would be "Do you have a pen." Selling out has nothing to do with it. Indie bands are ones that are independently funded by either themselves or a small label, most do it out of necessity, not for so higher calling of not wanting to "sellout." Some do it to make music on their terms and not compromise what they want to do, but that is not everyone, which is why the term itself gets so glorified. That is the problem when people use the "indie" monicure. There are still bands who are popular who would be considered "Indie" bands. Death Cab, Ray Lamontagne, even Radiohead would have to be considered "Indie" because they either are self-funded or are with a small label who doesn't interfere with their music. Finding an audience and getting sucess doesn't mean you are not longer an indie band.
Last edited by ak10 at Dec 29, 2009,
#5
Quote by ak10
The term "indie" is one that gets thrown around way too much. Its based off of Independent filmakers making movies. There movies were then referred to as "Indies." It should mean bands that don't have a big label behind them. If you play only small clubs and coffee houses, or are signed to a small label then you are most likely alllowed under the indie umberella. However, the term has kind of morphed into a throw all term for anything that isnt mainstream, and has also been attached to certain kinds of music such as singer/songwriters, the one guy with an acoustic guitar sound. Basically though, if you are not played on the radio someone will probably think its ok to call you an indie band, but thats not really what it is.

i've seen this question asked here a million times and that's the best answer i've ever read.
#6
Quote by ak10
The term "indie" is one that gets thrown around way too much. Its based off of Independent filmakers making movies. There movies were then referred to as "Indies." It should mean bands that don't have a big label behind them. If you play only small clubs and coffee houses, or are signed to a small label then you are most likely alllowed under the indie umberella. However, the term has kind of morphed into a throw all term for anything that isnt mainstream, and has also been attached to certain kinds of music such as singer/songwriters, the one guy with an acoustic guitar sound. Basically though, if you are not played on the radio someone will probably think its ok to call you an indie band, but thats not really what it is.

Actually... This.
One of the mods should copy-paste that into the Alt and Indie Essentials first post. Bravo.

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#7
Quote by ak10
The term "indie" is one that gets thrown around way too much. Its based off of Independent filmakers making movies. There movies were then referred to as "Indies." It should mean bands that don't have a big label behind them. If you play only small clubs and coffee houses, or are signed to a small label then you are most likely alllowed under the indie umberella. However, the term has kind of morphed into a throw all term for anything that isnt mainstream, and has also been attached to certain kinds of music such as singer/songwriters, the one guy with an acoustic guitar sound. Basically though, if you are not played on the radio someone will probably think its ok to call you an indie band, but thats not really what it is.


hey thanx! I had no idea what so ever what a "indie" band is and you just helped. Thanx! You get an appreciation stack:


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#8
By the power vested in me, I declare that ak10 is to recieve the very first "Bravo Stack" for his work in explaining the meaning of the term "Indie" on this, the
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#9
I really hate the term Indie and that it's pretty much used as this catch-all genre term. And it encompasses so much, from Beirut to The New Pornographers (which are not even close musically). The way I see it though, most of the innovation is happening in this "Indie" space which is why I keep going back for more!
#10
Quote by ak10
The term "indie" is one that gets thrown around way too much. Its based off of Independent filmakers making movies. There movies were then referred to as "Indies." It should mean bands that don't have a big label behind them. If you play only small clubs and coffee houses, or are signed to a small label then you are most likely alllowed under the indie umberella. However, the term has kind of morphed into a throw all term for anything that isnt mainstream, and has also been attached to certain kinds of music such as singer/songwriters, the one guy with an acoustic guitar sound. Basically though, if you are not played on the radio someone will probably think its ok to call you an indie band, but thats not really what it is.


Yeah that I think is a solid definition. I think the confusion lies in journalists of the last 10 years refering to most alternative rockbands [particularly form england] as "indie" regardless of weather their sigend to a major or an indie label. So then we get bands like the kooks and the brian jonestown massacre both being called indie despite both sounding totally different. Its the same deal as grunge music.
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#11
Yeah, basically if you play your own instruments you wil probably be lumped in as indie. I remember people calling Coldplay Indie on their first 2 albums...
#12
I sort of disagree with you guys.

Uh, Indie is indeed short for independent, as in indepedent from the Major recording labels. But indie (perhaps more specifically Indie Rock) as a GENRE refers to "alternative" rock bands that take influence from the 70's DIY Punk movement, and even further the hardcore and post-punk of the 80's.
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#13
Quote by MoonBoots432
I sort of disagree with you guys.

Uh, Indie is indeed short for independent, as in indepedent from the Major recording labels. But indie (perhaps more specifically Indie Rock) as a GENRE refers to "alternative" rock bands that take influence from the 70's DIY Punk movement, and even further the hardcore and post-punk of the 80's.

That definition seems attractive because of that whole influence bit (seeing that most indie bands would cite bands like the Smiths and Joy Division as influences), but it isn't broad enough to cover the scope of (modern) indie. Perhaps it's a good catch-all for the generic alternative bands out there, but that definition (in my opinion anyways) doesn't do the genre justice.

Quote by BurningCondors
Yeah, basically if you play your own instruments you wil probably be lumped in as indie. I remember people calling Coldplay Indie on their first 2 albums...

So, wait... Are you trying to say U2 is indie?

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#14
Haha, I wouldn't suprise me to see some lazy journo calling U2 Indie!!! Seriously though I did see a review calling coldplay Indie when Rush of Blood to the Head came out.

By the way I completely agree that Indie music is/should stand for independent music I was saying that in England at least pretty much any band with guitars is described as "Indie".

MoonBoots is exactly right about the whole DIY of the Punk movement embodying what indie was all about.

I think now that anyone can release /get there music to an audience be it through mp3s or youtube there's more people who can legitmately claim to have had an Indie release than ever!
#15
i think the confusion often stems because people fail to realise that indie is not just a question of what label you are on, but rather a question of aesthetic. for example, even when zomba was technically an indie, britney spears et al were not indie artists. equally, (and i suppose some might debate this) husker dü were an indie band even after they signed to a major.

of course, the question of what that aesthetic actually entails is a challenging one. you might be able to construct a valid argument that would say it is a more pensive evolution of early 80s hardcore, that it takes some of the ethos of that movement and does something more considered with it.

of course, this definition doesn't include what people often refer to as 'landfill' indie, bands like the kooks and the hoosiers. this shouldn't concern us. people call this indie because the term has become bastardised. like all words, its meaning is dependent upon context. within the context of a (vaguely) intelligent discussion between people who are 'into music' it makes sense to use the definition of indie which is actually coherent and intelligible.
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#16
Quote by BurningCondors
Haha, I wouldn't suprise me to see some lazy journo calling U2 Indie!!! Seriously though I did see a review calling coldplay Indie when Rush of Blood to the Head came out.

By the way I completely agree that Indie music is/should stand for independent music I was saying that in England at least pretty much any band with guitars is described as "Indie".

MoonBoots is exactly right about the whole DIY of the Punk movement embodying what indie was all about.

I think now that anyone can release /get there music to an audience be it through mp3s or youtube there's more people who can legitmately claim to have had an Indie release than ever!

Eh, music critics... What do they know nowadays?

Gotcha. I was really wondering for a second...

Here's the bit about the DIY 70s influence though... I like the 'indie' sound, but if I had the chance to sign to a major label, I would have a very hard time deciding if it was worth it to sign away some portion of my ideals. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. Yes, the whole DIY and small labels thing is great, but so is having food on the table. (Not speaking out of experience on that last bit though.) And like somebody else in this thread stated, many of the bands just starting out would immediately jump onto the opportunity to sign to a major label. Once bands signed to a small label get their name out, it's easier for them to maintain their reputation and keep the cash flow coming in. (Sorry if this sounds cynical- I'm just trying to look at it from a new perspective.)

Indie is a double-edged sword. There is to some extent some pretentiousness involved, if it's your image that sells, and many times, it is. At the same time, DIY indie is something to be proud of, and shows that you care about your craft.

Quote by Gurgle!Argh!
i think the confusion often stems because people fail to realise that indie is not just a question of what label you are on, but rather a question of aesthetic. for example, even when zomba was technically an indie, britney spears et al were not indie artists. equally, (and i suppose some might debate this) husker dü were an indie band even after they signed to a major.

of course, the question of what that aesthetic actually entails is a challenging one. you might be able to construct a valid argument that would say it is a more pensive evolution of early 80s hardcore, that it takes some of the ethos of that movement and does something more considered with it.

of course, this definition doesn't include what people often refer to as 'landfill' indie, bands like the kooks and the hoosiers. this shouldn't concern us. people call this indie because the term has become bastardised. like all words, its meaning is dependent upon context. within the context of a (vaguely) intelligent discussion between people who are 'into music' it makes sense to use the definition of indie which is actually coherent and intelligible.

And also, this.

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#18
Quote by ak10
The term "indie" is one that gets thrown around way too much. Its based off of Independent filmakers making movies. There movies were then referred to as "Indies." It should mean bands that don't have a big label behind them. If you play only small clubs and coffee houses, or are signed to a small label then you are most likely alllowed under the indie umberella. However, the term has kind of morphed into a throw all term for anything that isnt mainstream, and has also been attached to certain kinds of music such as singer/songwriters, the one guy with an acoustic guitar sound. Basically though, if you are not played on the radio someone will probably think its ok to call you an indie band, but thats not really what it is.



I dont agree them who think that singer/songwriters play indie. Singer/songwriter has more been an own genre. A instrumentalist singing his own songs shall not be confused with the genre Indie. I dont know if singer/songwriter is a genre but for me it is.
#19
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its tough to put it into words but after a while of listening and talking about indie bands you "know" what it is.
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#20
Quote by jiminizzle


hope youre doing well.


its tough to put it into words but after a while of listening and talking about indie bands you "know" what it is.


i always struggle with this definition, for the same reason that i struggle with (and i realise the danger of this comparison) the way people like the BNP (british national party) describe the act of being able to tell who is a 'native' 'briton' by just looking and 'knowing'. clearly, they aren't on the same level (one is offensive, and the other is just a bit silly), but i think they both share the same problem which is that they allow one to define things not based on any attempt (and i realise it is difficult to do more than attempt) at consistency and logic and an attempt to at least engage with the difficult ontological task of defining it, and more based on an arbitrary sense of personal preference. ie, the system seems too often to become something along the lines of 'indie bands are the ones that i like', which i find grossly dissatisfying, and evasive of the very real (and interesting) questions which are involved with our definition(s).
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Last edited by Gurgle!Argh! at Jan 7, 2010,
#21
yeah you're right, matt. Hope you're doing well too. Post a poem or something if youve written lately. I miss them.

I was aiming to put more weight on the tough to describe part, but the laziness of the description leads to avoiding actual insight into what causes a band to be "indie" and kind of spills the term a bit too far.
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