It’s no secret that the power and influence of independent artists and labels is growing day by day. As the majors continue to lose steam more quickly, music fans are turning to outlets that might be considered alternative or outside of the standard music landscape for to fulfill their desire for what they consider good music.
And the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, along with the Grammy voting committee, have seemingly taken notice, as the last few years have seen a strong increase in the number of independent artists nominated for Grammy awards. Hypebot.com reported that in 2010 indie artists and labels netted 50% of Grammy nominations. Some of the most notable nominees that year from independent labels included Arcade Fire (Merge Records), Mumford & Sons (Glassnote Records) and Esperanza Spalding (Heads Up Records). That same year, The Foreign Exchange, a duo composed of European DJ and producer Nicolay and North Carolina emcee Phonte, were nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the song “Daykeeper” off their independently released album Leave It All Behind.
Just last year, folk music group Bon Iver actually won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album for their independently released second album Bon Iver, Bon Iver. And though lead singer Justin Vernon made waves at the ceremony with a conflicted, somewhat dismissive acceptance speech, the group still has this accomplishment to show for the music that they created, released and distributed independent of a major label.
2012/13 is no exception, as many notable independent artists were nominated for and won Grammy awards. Indie phenomenon turned Universal Republic artist Gotye won Record of the Year for his song “Somebody That I Used to Know” and for the album Making Mirrors. Additionally, Mumford & Sons was once again nominated for their second album Babel, and New York indie rockers fun. won several awards for their album Some Nights and the song “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae, both released on Fueled By Ramen Records. Other notable indie nominees this year included The Alabama Shakes for their album Boys & Girls on ATO Records, The Black Keys’ El Camino on Nonesuch Records and R&B singer Tamia with her album Beautiful Surprise on Plus 1 Music Group.
It’s clear that independent artists are gaining a bigger piece of the pie every year, especially in terms of recognition from N.A.R.A.S and the Grammy awards. There’s sure to be a lot more in store for these and other indie artists as the landscape of the music industry continues to evolve with the times.