What Is Indie Music All About?

Indie Rock Music
via pexels

People throw around the term “indie music” a lot, and not everybody has the same understanding of what it means. To some, it describes the arrangement of the industry. To others, it’s a musical descriptor of the sounds such labels tend to produce.

It’s a bit of a mix, so let’s look at what “indie” music really means.

Technical Definition

“Indie” music is short for independent, as in, there’s an independent record label putting out these songs rather than a major company. For people who stress this side of the definition, the assumption is that major labels work with proven artists whose sounds have already been swallowed up by the general public.

In contrast, “indie” music is newer, fresher, and unproven. Smaller record labels can take chances with such music. If a major label puts out a flop, there’s a lot more money to lose. On the flip side, smaller labels can get a hit on their hands if they take a chance on something a larger label would pass on.

They tend to be more nimble or agile and less risk-averse. This definition of “indie” speaks to the economic prospects rather than sound per se.

Verge Music Awards 2011

The Indie Sound

Sometimes, “indie” music refers to a specific type of contemporary sound that can be hard to pin down. The famous Motown Records, which released hits by giants like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder in the 1970s, began as an independent label before MCA purchased it in 1988. To others, “indie” music refers to a grungy, low-fi rock sound embodied by early 2000s bands.

It may be easier to define indie music by what it isn’t or what it rejects. Basically, if a band’s sound could plausibly be the result of a bunch of suit-wearing executives focus-grouping teens to see what music they did and didn’t like and then recording the result, it’s not indie.

Today’s indie chill vibe embodies sounds across the world that transcends genres. Formerly, geography had a larger hand in shaping musical sounds because people who grew up in one corner of the world were more exposed to one type of music. That is no longer true in a world where people can fly to different countries relatively inexpensively and stream global music from their couches.

Indie artists like Lila Drew are likely inspired by all kinds of music. One of today’s most famously cross-genre bands is Khruangbin, a trio from Texas whose band name means “airplane” in Thai. Such a name is fitting because they weave melodies and grooves from all over the world, from South Asian, Irish, and Iranian melodies to surf rock and African rhythms.

Ultimately, there are different kinds of indie bands which may vaguely feel like they have something in common, but they sound quite different.

If you like the way that music makes you feel when you hear it, then it’s good music. Categories and genres only take you so far. “Indie” musicians may be influenced by musicians from across the spectrum, but hopefully, you have a better understanding of what people mean when they say “indie.”

Even More Stories You May Like (courtesy of Google)

Comments are closed.