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The definition of Indie: Truth is, no one really knows

by Archives October 11, 2006

You hear the term all the time. “Indie”. But what does it really mean when every second band merits the label? That was only one of the issues tackled at The Future of Music Policy Summit 2006, held at McGill’s music school as part of Pop Montreal this weekend.

Lectures and workshops were held on issues ranging from how to preserve music in the digital age, how to properly prepare your band for an international tour, and how to profit from underground music’s increasing appeal in the marketing realm.

The media’s role in the digital music era was also on the table, and inevitably, so were ideas on how to stop free downloading. How does a 10-second commercial soundbite in front of your newly downloaded hit single sound?

A State of Independents: The changing definition of Indie

Heads of indie labels Arts & Crafts, Ninja Tune / Big Dada and Constellation records, alongside director of label relations Molly Neuman from e-music, were all present to discuss the state of indie music last Saturday. Jeff Remedios of indie label Arts & Crafts said it best. “Each artist has his own needs,” he said, refusing to define what indie music entails for him beyond emphasizing their individual approach as a record label.

The range of what “indie” might be was evident by the other panelists as well.

Whereas Jeff Waye of Ninja Tune felt supplying his artists’ music for commercials could be justified, saying they would often compromise by donating half of the profits to a charitable organization, Ian Ilavsky of Constallation Records adamantly opposed the idea.

Ilavsky said they don’t even supply promotional material to the magazine Merge, because it’s a “glossy industry rag” on the same level with Pitfork Media and others.

Neuman, on the other hand, said she’s had to defend printing colour vinyls because some circles see it as “exploiting the record freaks” because they would feel forced to buy the same product twice.

As underground music becomes more mainstream, the four panelists agreed some artists, as well as labels, would transcend the definitions and have to find their own dynamic in the industry. So what does indie mean? Whatever works for you, it seems.

This was the sixth annual summit held.

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