The vast advances in the Internet and the subsequent opening of the flood gates in terms of who can create, promote, sell and distribute music in recent years has clearly changed what we consider to be independent music. Artists at many different levels have been placed into the “indie” category. Some of the biggest independent success stories in recent years are extremely wide-ranging and diverse, from Mumford & Sons, Fun! and Adele to Amanda Palmer, Gotye, Zoe Keating, and one of the biggest success stories of the years in Hip Hop music, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Two recent articles on the web that seem to capture the idea of the growing popularity and changing conversation on exactly what an independent artists is come from Hypebot.com and RapRehab.com. Both are interesting, insightful reads and give valuable information on just how much independent music has changed and grown. Here are the links:
Each of these artists are considered to be independent because they are not connected to a major label in terms of the actual creation and production of their music. Yet, strangely enough, most if not all of these artists have faced some sort of criticism or backlash for not being a “real indie artist”. The reason for this criticism may stem from the fact that while each of these artists may not be directly on a major label, they do have some connection to a major, be it a second or third degree of separation, or eventually none at all.
For example, Jack White’s last album Blunderbuss was put out on his own Third Man Records imprint, but in association with XL Recordings and Columbia Records. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album The Heist did not have a label home, but was distributed by the Warner Music Group-owned Alternative Distribution Alliance. Gotye as an artist is on an independently owned Australian label called Eleven, but has his music distributed in the United States by Universal Republic. Toronto indie music sensation The Weeknd released three mixtapes on his own, but eventually was courted by Universal Republic and now is on a major.
The whole point is that just like the new millennium has brought on a new sense of “Do It Yourself” power for artists, it’s not so easy to categorize who is and is not an independent artist anymore. From the local artist who plays bars and hangouts around town to the new “it” artist of the moment that appears on major blogs and websites, the idea of the “indie” artist has taken on a whole new meaning, and it’s high time that the industry as a whole acknowledges that.