The Myth of Indie Rock
Indie Rock, if you take the term literally, has been around since the inception of Rock N Roll. The term Indie is short for Independent and fits many situations. Sun Records for example was an Indie label in its time, believe it or not, because it began operation outside the mainstream. Of course it is synonymous with other American Icons now but in its inception it was definitely Independent. I understand that Indie Rock, the term itself, distinguished many other acts from mainstream music beginning in the 1980s? But is that relevant now? It is not and I for one and absolutely ecstatic about it.
The hipsters are quick to throw around terms which are losing their meaning. The genre classifications and subgenre classifications and then the sub genres of the sub genres became fun sport over say the last 20 plus years. This parlor game is losing its muster.
When I talk to young people about how they acquire music, listen to it but more specifically, what they listen to, the gamut is ripe with diversity. (Note to artists you better be paying attention to the up and coming listeners because they are your audience.) The “young-uns” care less about genre and more about accessibility and things that make them groove or speak to them in a certain way. Theirs is a much different experience than listeners from decades gone by and I can honestly say it is a beautiful thing.
What makes them special is that they have everything within the tips of their fingers, literally. In the old days people used to have to go to a store, pick out an album, take it home, and then experience it. I used to think I would long for those days but I do not, I am actually happy they are over. Why? The audience for music has broadened to a level that we are just now beginning to understand or at least conceptualize.
Record companies and the suits could manipulate people into buying this band or that band because they had ‘gamed’ the system to their advantage. Then came Napster and file sharing and then streaming and now Spotify and their seemingly impenetrable fortress proved to be little more than a house of cards. It was hucksterism on the highest level and we all used to eat it by the spoonful. We went from being handed out our music like Soylent Green to a brave new world in what, ten years? It is not stopping and the labels are doomed to fade if I cannot see their image becoming transparent now.
Sure there will be major label acts on what appears to be a label but in reality that label will merely be a front for a major corporation to make its jingles to go along with more of its Soylent Green: music to sell stuff to the masses with. But real music, made by real artists, will become limitless and there for the consumption of the people. There will be many changes which will happen with much rapidity. That is the mistake analogous minds make converting to a digital world.
In the old days things progressed at a slow clip, then an innovation, then a plateau of sameness until someone else invented the next super duper mousetrap and then sameness for a while, but the speed at which we progressed was picking up. People longed for the sameness and found solace in the respite before the next thing came along. There is no time to catch your breath any longer. Get used to it and merge your art with it.
But the idea of Indie Rock is silly. When you have 3 million gabillion bands not just in the US but the entire planet all making music, albeit most of it bad, then any genre distinction only serves to quantify it for the listener who by the way doesn’t want to be quantified or classified. That is why there will be no more “movements” in rock, which arguably, if not really, were all just press release scams dreamt up by publicists from the bygone era when Rock N Roll became big business and the machine lead the public around by the nose. So where does that leave us? I can tell you one thing for sure:
If you are all Indie then no one is Indie. Get it.