When the time came that music was viewed as a product, it was inevitable that divides would occur: those backed by companies and those who go at it alone. Today, we take a closer look at the latter. The ones that stand apart from large companies that produce and promote musicians are called Independent artists or Indies.
What is an Indie?
An independent artist or musician is anyone that produces music without the aid of an already established commercial record company or their investors. Being independent means that artists or bands get to produce or create their music in complete creative freedom.
A common issue in larger scale productions are the interference that’s usually done by producers, engineers, record label owners and their investors. If you’ve ever seen the movie Dreamgirls, it is exactly what you see Curtis (played by Jamie Lee Fox) does to the artists around him. When the others wanted to create a song that was deemed to be a “message” song, Curtis shut that down and instead put forward songs that he felt would lead to better sales.
It is indeed sad that “creative differences” or “artistic differences” often lead to the career demise or standstill of a promising artist. What’s even worse is that these artists are often so tangled in legal contracts that they literally cannot make music even if they had the means to. The contract options that major labels come up put the label’s needs and returns first and foremost.
This is why the independent artist scene is seen to be quite ideal. No one gets to impede or halt your creative process. You get to build the songs that you want to. However, this isn’t to say that everything is all roses in the independent scene.
Indie artists often find themselves in the midst of either a massive market of other indie performers or opposition from a talent backed by a major label. Most radio stations often prioritize releases from artists that come from major labels. You could say that this form of discrimination led to the payola system back in the day.
While indie artists get to enjoy full creative freedom, this does not automatically lead to commercially successful songs or lucrative returns. Exposure can be quite difficult for independent artists. Most indie artists rely on word of mouth or reviews from performances to get the word out about them. Back in the day, this was very hard to do.
If anything, this emphasizes that Indie artists need support for a healthy community.
Indie Music still has a Future
Indie music has been around ever since the term “commercial music” came to be. While there a lot of them that don’t reach worldwide success, they enjoy a very lucrative career touring the local indie scenes.
Indie music is a music career on hard mode. So in order for there to be successful artists, there needs to be support. That is what Squid Music and many other supporters of indie music hope to provide.