Original article here: http://universe.byu.edu/beta/2013/02/12/indie-music-is-it-only-for-hipsters/
My response here:
Problem 1: “what is contained on a hipster’s iPod”
They used the word “hipster”. I’ll go off about that some other time.
Problem 2: “This means that the artists who are classified as “indie” have not signed with music conglomerates but with record labels that are independent of the mainstream music world.”
That’s an inaccurate and shallow explanation of independent labels. An independent label is defined differentially, in contrast to major labels. There are, at present only three major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. Any other label is an independent label, and a good amount of mainstream music has been released on independent labels. A good amount of the “independent” music you listen to is, in fact, released on major labels. For instance, Death Cab for Cutie has signed multiple records with Atlantic, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, but they’re still very associated with “indie music”.
EMI is now a part of Universal Music Group and ought to be considered a sublabel.
Problem 3: “Wilson mentioned that indie is not genre specific. In reality, any genre of music can be represented by an independent label. More specifically, indie music can be classified into genres such as indie-pop, indie-rock or indie-folk so long as it is being produced independently.”
That’s fine, but it does render the term “indie” relatively worthless, doesn’t it? Why would you identify anything by the means of production rather than by the actual style and conventions of the product? Why does the consumer care whether the music is produced on a major or independent label?
Problem 4: “Indie music is something that contains and evokes more emotion than mainstream music.”
Bold, and completely without evidence, and indeed quite relative. This also negates the previous statement that “any genre of music can be [indie].” If any music can be represented by an independent label, how is it that indie music is more evocative? What? WTF, dude.
Problem 5: “Traditionally, this meant artists were not signed to a music label and self-released all of their records.”
That’s a bit misleading. Emitt Rhodes, for instance, released a self-produced record in 1970 with Dunhill Records, an independent label. I’m not sure what “traditionally” is supposed to mean here, but self-production and self-release wasn’t incredibly common before the 1970s (due to the increasing accessibility to recording equipment).
Problem 6: “The spirit of indie became so well-spread between some subcultures that it came to be known as a music genre and gave birth to the infamous hipsters of today.”
Just a bad sentence. Very mystical and irritating.
Problem 7: ”He also said that some of the most notable bands at the inception of indie music included Saves the Day, The Get Up Kids and Death Cab for Cutie in its early years.”
Of course, this is completely false. Music has been released independently for decades (see #5). I can cite loads of examples if anybody gives a shit or two. Look at Sun Records’ portfolio, for instance. Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, etc.
If you’re referring to “indie music” not as “independent music”, sure, but you’re giving a genre to too wide of a musical spectrum. Saves the Day and Death Cab share no musical conventions and therefore can hardly be associated under the same genre heading. Again, the only similarity is in the means of production, which is unimportant to the consumer.
Problem 8: “While independent music provides the ability for a producer to work closely with a musician, there are pros and cons that exist between the labels.”
Awkwardly written. Also, if you’re going to tell us that there are pros and cons (which doesn’t really need to be said, frankly), please tell us what those pros and cons are. Or just don’t bother. Superfluity is, unfortunate though this truth may be, frowned upon in journalism.
Problem 9: “such as Red Cardigan”
THERE IT IS. The real agenda.
Problem 19: “they keep the roster small enough to focus on each artist through every step of the process.”
I see the point here, but I don’t necessarily see it as being accurate (though I will give that it can be true). A good number of bands sign with independent labels because they want less attention and direction from the label.