With the change of record companies to ordinary commercial enterprises, numerous bands wanted more independence and freedom from economic constraints. That was also because the music industry saw its musicians more and more as products and less as artists. The managers acted accordingly and gave their musicians less and less time to develop themselves and their art. Independent rock, or indie for short, describes bands and musicians who can go their musical path on independent labels relatively unaffected. Some of them also had great success, as numerous famous examples prove.
Born In England In The 1970s
Of course, the indie scene cannot wholly decouple itself from the commercialization of the industry. Practically the same market laws apply to them as to all other genres. But the fans, in particular, attach great importance to the fact that their bands do not submit to the laws of the music industry. You want the variety of musical forms of expression to be actively cultivated and given time for further development. We now date the birth of indie rock to the mid-1970s. The punk icons Sex Pistols certainly played a significant role in this. They were a reaction to the socio-political circumstances in England in the 1970s. The will for independence drove the musicians and, as a result, the newly created scene. Bands like The Clash, Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy and The Smiths let the scene flourish and also celebrated corresponding commercial successes. In doing so, however, they never allowed their musical expressiveness to be restricted or directed into narrow channels.
The Industry Buys Everybody
But as so often before, the industry discovered this trend and tried to use the new movement for itself. The big companies signed the bands or bought the entire record company straight away. This game would repeat itself around ten years later. Influenced by indie heroes like the Pixies, the American band Nirvana sparked a real revolution. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana initially signed a contract at a well-known American indie label called Sub Pop Records. Geffen Records bought them out there, and soon they started a world career. Countless bands followed under the Grunge label and sold millions of records. The industry betrayed the original idea of independent production of music outside the mainstream for the second time.
Indie rock has become an alternative rock and has become an integral part of the repertoire of every major record company. Today the scene is split up into countless sub-genres. Hardly any band that you know as an indie still lives up to this name. The music industry is too commercialized for that. But there is always an enormous pool of new musicians who value their independence. Discovering them is easier than ever today. Streaming giants such as Spotify or Apple Music take care of that. Their algorithms provide indie fans with a constant supply of great music which they can discover.