This article will discuss how to describe indie music. Is there a proper way to describe it?
Who does indie music suit? How does the music fit into the current musical climate?
Essentially, this is an issue that has come to the forefront of mainstream music in recent years, as the number of indie labels has grown in both size and ambition.
For example, this year sees the release of 10 new debut albums by independent label-led artists.
These bands are expected to be huge. They are frequently accompanied by advertising campaigns, massive reviews in the UK and US press, and promotional tours.
Whilst not all of these acts will achieve their own levels of success, all of these debut albums will help to bring a new face to the indie scene, which is a great way to attract new listeners.
This can create a massive shift in the way that music is written and talked about, and there’s a lot of excitement about the implications for the wider music industry.
It is important that indie artists not be painted as “difficult to market” or overly “vague” when in reality their music is difficult to market in the first place.
For example, when talking about an indie rock band, most people know exactly what they are talking about. You either like indie rock, or you don’t.
As has often been pointed out, the term "indie" is relatively meaningless. There's no real set definition.
But, broadly speaking, it’s a label given to a band who aren't signed to a major label. So it’s a niche, exclusive musical community.
In order to figure out how to describe indie music, we need to look at who and what the label includes.
Many of the top bands on the indie scene are these very unique, highly original groups that don't fit into any existing musical mould.
Of course, this also applies to bands who are signed to major labels. Similarly, the word "indie" is often interpreted as a catch-all.
The term "indie" is often used to describe bands who release their own music via download sites like Bandcamp or iTunes, and a very large number of these artists are found in the alternative/punk genres.
Others are classified as "indie-rock", which in the current climate means bands that play "shoegaze guitar rock with deep hooks, metallic guitars, prog-rock drums and pre-chorus choruses", according to the website Pitchfork.
However, this spectrum is far from rigid. Anyone can find themselves included in any of these genres.
They could be a garage rock band, or a hardcore punk band, or a rock band with spoken word backing vocals.
There are many different ways that people describe the indie scene, but I am going to look at it from the point of view of the artists themselves.
An incredibly important factor in the success of any band is their social media presence, and a great way to show your true fans exactly who you are and what you stand for is via your band's official Facebook page.
This can also be used to directly reach out to potential fans, as well as the music press.
There are several online forums that anyone can join, where artists can ask the community for their opinion on their music, their music and their career.
Often these reviews are less helpful than ones written by industry journalists, but it can give a good idea of how their music is going down with the music-reading public.
Unfortunately, most artists face the opposite problem. The music press is hardly interested in indie bands.
The mainstream press's coverage of the music industry focuses heavily on pop music. It can be hard for indie bands to get much coverage from them.
When an indie band is given positive coverage by the press, it often consists of a review in a slightly pointless music magazine with no real impact on the wider public, or perhaps a single quote, usually in very small print, on the back of a mediocre pop song.
In the current climate, there is a tendency to see indie bands as a form of something that has been marginalized by the mainstream.
One of the biggest indie bands in the world is the Arctic Monkeys, and their success has always been based on the fact that they play pop music in an indie band style.
The fact that they are hugely successful makes them seem even more out of step with the rest of the music industry.
Another huge part of the indie scene is the music video. As the English poet John Cooper Clarke famously said: "I've heard of many bands with singles/ But Arctic Monkeys have three albums."
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