How To Define Indie Music – Our Take

Posted by Mike Schumacher

This article will discuss how to define indie music in the simplest way.

However, before we get into the nitty gritty of this thing, we need to get a basic understanding of what it means.

Before indie music was being developed, it had to do with what was referred to as Americana.

Americana was a musical style that originated in the folk music that was being played at country clubs

Colorful jazz concert

These clubs consisted of a home style jukebox and people would just sit there and listen to the songs being played for free.

When Bob Dylan first burst onto the scene in the late 50’s and early 60’s, it seemed that the two genres were moving closer and closer together.

However, things took a dramatic change in the 70’s when a new genre of music was created called punk rock. Punk rock was based off of the English punk rock scene and heavily influenced by the beatniks and hippies from the 60’s.

This music was also extremely fast-paced and lacked traditional chord progressions and rhythms.

The musicians were all working class and the music was highly political and angry. This music was much more accessible to everyone and allowed musicians from all walks of life to pursue their music.

It was such a new style and it didn’t take long for the musicians from the previous genres to feel threatened. This began the evolution of what is known as Americana today.

Although it sounds like all indie music is punk rock, that isn’t actually the case.

It just so happens that the first band that was formed in the genre of punk rock was an indie band. It was called the Sex Pistols.

The first album they released was called “Never Mind the Bollocks” and it sold over half a million copies in the UK in the first week and was the first indie album to hit number one in the US charts.

This is just a brief history lesson on indie music. We are going to spend the rest of this article talking about what all of the various elements of indie music mean.

However, before we begin, let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way.

Indie Definition:

Music band performing in front of building

A band that is created by a person, group, or corporation and that is all working for the benefit of the band. In other words, they aren’t being paid to play or promote the band.

Indie Gratification:

The complete absence of any sort of hype. Just the bands playing their music and people paying to see them play.

Indie Music:

Music that is released independently without a major label or manager.

Indie Power:

The ability of musicians to influence the social climate of their generation by their music and general views.

Indie Rock:

Indie rock is a music genre that originated in the late 60’s. It started out as an offshoot of the punk movement but evolved into its own musical genre.

The music is usually a mix of punk, psychedelic, garage, blues, and country influences.

Indie Hip Hop:

Indie hip hop is a musical genre that was popularized in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

This genre is much more influenced by soul and jazz and is much slower and more laid back than the usual hip hop music. This genre originated from the so-called independent rappers of the 90’s.

The “Independent” or “Self-Released” artists had a much harder time getting recorded and distributed then the major label artists.

As we will explore in more detail, there are many different styles of indie music. It is important to note that the genre itself is not determined by the genre of music being played but rather what genre the musicians think they fit into.

So when we say that Weezer is an indie rock band, it’s really just a way of saying that they are trying to classify their music as rock music.

There are many genres of rock music that are considered indie but what I want to do in this article is focus on indie rock music.

An Indie Rock Artist:

carlos pedrell

Carlos Pedrell, playing with Sea Fuzz in Barcelona

Basically what I have just described but in more detail. Indie rock music is composed of a diverse group of musicians from all over the world.

Each of these musicians tries to create their own sound and create an original sound but it is almost always difficult because they are all influenced by many different kinds of music.

Some artists like to play the retro style of indie rock but many artists use new technology to create sounds that weren’t created or used in the past.

This is why many indie bands or artists aren’t just good but very unique. They are taking what’s out there and doing it better.

In many ways it is much like punk rock music.

The release of Weezer’s self-titled debut album in 1992 gave a lot of indie rock fans their first taste of what that style of music would sound like.

By 1996 the band began to do some independent touring and really started making waves.

They played Lollapalooza in 1995 and 1996 and were known as one of the most exciting indie rock bands of the time.

Their success on the music scene did not come without its share of controversy.

It was reported that radio stations in the early 90’s actually refused to play Weezer music because they thought it was crap.

When their album, “Blue Album” was released, the album’s initial reception was mixed.

They released three singles before the album’s release and the critical response was mixed.

However, soon after the album’s release it was generally regarded as a classic indie rock album. Their popularity exploded and they were well known as one of the most exciting indie rock bands in the world.

So in short, just like the mainstream mainstream bands that have been doing it for many years now, Weezer is an indie rock band.


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