Whatever Happened to "Indie"

The other day we had to rent a mini-van to take our gear to a show. One of the niceties of the rental was satellite radio. Seeing as we had a healthy stretch of road to cover, it gave me plenty of time to enjoy the wealth of options on the radio. I try to keep up with new music, but it is tough to actually listen to all the new music coming out.

Fortunately, there was SirusXMU to help pass the time and give me a chance to become more familiar with some of the more recent “indie” artists that I’ve read about on blogs.

My conclusion after listening is that “indie” music has evolved. At one point, “indie” was short for independent. This could take many forms, but the overarching theme was that “indie” meant the music wasn’t a part of the typical music establishment. In more cases than not, it was a matter of some subversive aspect, whether by choice of the artists or due to the music, that set the music outside the scope of traditional culture. While there are still plenty of bands that could be considered subversive, I’m not so sure it is the majority. What is interesting is that even though the music has become more acceptable to the mainstream, the “industry” behind it is still very much independent of major labels and their vast wealth.

Another interesting observation is that while much of “indie” music has become more mainstream, the mainstream has also been opening its doors to more subversive acts. The spectrum of music has become more detailed and at the same time wider. This trend is something that’s been going on for a long time.

Personally, when it comes to subversive music, I tend to agree with Ian McKaye’s perspective. While it is arguable that “indie” is different than “punk”, it is good to know that there will always be people discovering (and rediscovering) new perspectives on music.