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Med332 glamorous indie rock and roll

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Med332 glamorous indie rock and roll

  1. 1. #med332   Glamorous  indie  rock’n’roll?     @rob_jewi:    
  2. 2. Defining  ‘indie’   Defining  a  category  like  indie  is  not  only   problemaBc  for  scholars  who  seek  to  understand   culture;  it  is  also  difficult  for  community  members   themselves  …  Fans  and  members  of  the  BriBsh   music  industry  oKen  struggle  to  come  to  terms   with  defining  something  they  feel  they  can   recognize  intuiBvely     -­‐  Fonarow,  2006:  25    
  3. 3. Defining  ‘indie’   1.  a  type  of  musical  produc-on  affiliated  with   small  independent  record  labels  with  a   disBncBve  mode  of  independent  distribuBon     2.  a  genre  of  music  that  has  a  parBcular  sound   and  stylisBc  convenBons   3.  music  that  communicates  a  parBcular  ethos   4.  a  category  of  cri-cal  assessment   5.  music  that  can  be  contrasted  with  other   genres  
  4. 4. The  Big  3   34.1%   16.7%  22.5%   Record  companies,  physical  and  digital  revenue  market  shares,  2012–14  
  5. 5. Scale   In  Britain  alone  it  has  been  esBmated  that  there   were  600  small  companies  in  the  mid-­‐1990s   (MMC  1994),  while  more  recent  directories  oKen   contain  thousands  of  entries,  given  the  marginal   nature  of  these  companies,  and  the  expansion  in   music  industries  facilitated  by  the  internet  and   the  growth  of  DIY  music,  it  is  likely  that  this  is  a   underesBmaBon   -­‐  Tim  Wall  2013:137    
  6. 6. RomanBcism   Visionary  label  creators  
  7. 7. 'independent  record  companies  have  long  held  a   cultural  status  that  far  exceeds  the  actual   economic  impact  they  have  in  the  market  place'     -­‐  Lee,  1995:  14  
  8. 8. The  discourse  of  indie…   •  More  creaBve?   •  Greater  arBsBc  freedom?   •  Diversity?   •  Be:er  for  the  industry?  
  9. 9. CelebraBon  of  Independent  labels  as  sites  of   innovaBon  from  2  camps:     1  -­‐  Passion  for  record  collecBon;  ‘roots’;   authenBcity   2  -­‐  AnB-­‐capitalist;  pro-­‐counter-­‐culture  
  10. 10. black  capitalism     self-­‐empowerment     African-­‐American  equality     undermined  by  the  intervenBon  of  major   companies  following  disco  boom  of  the   late  1970s       Independent  hip-­‐hop  as  the  new  African-­‐ American  empowerment  
  11. 11. Majors   Independents   Safe   New/risky   Distant   Intimate   Profit   Art   Fake   Real/genuine   Standardised   Innovative   Conventional   Radical   ‘Whited-out’   Ethnically assertive   Middle-aged   Youthful   Wall,  p140  
  12. 12. Defining  ‘indie’   1.  a  type  of  musical  produc-on  affiliated  with   small  independent  record  labels  with  a   disBncBve  mode  of  independent  distribuBon    
  13. 13. Indie  as  Mode  of  DistribuBon     Indie  charts  vs  mainstream  pop  chart  
  14. 14. In  1977  there  were  750  chart  return  shops  in   Britain,  with  250  outlets  recording  their  sales   for  the  singles  chart  and  450  outlets  recording   their  sales  for  the  album  chart.  The  UK  charts   were  compiled  from  data  on  purchases  made   at  selected  outlets  of  major  chain  stores  such   as  WHSmith  and  Woolworths,  which  also  sell  a   broad  variety  of  other  goods,  as  well  as  from   some  of  the  megastores,  such  as  Virgin,  HMV,   and  Tower,  which  primarily  sold  music.   -­‐  Fonarow,  2006:  30  
  15. 15. First  NME  indie  chart:  1979   <-­‐    Dec  1983  
  16. 16. DiY  labels   Simple  >  quick  >  cheap     1977:  the  Chiswick  label  recorded  and   manufactured  2,500  copies  of  an  EP  for  £700   Fast  Product     Rough  Trade   Postcard   Zoo  Records   SBff   Factory   Mute   Beggars  Banquet     Some  Bizzare     Cherry  Red   FicBon   4AD  
  17. 17. DistribuBon     “The  thing  to  do  is  to  get  your  own  distribuBon   network  then  you’ve  got  control,  you’ve  got   power.  You  can  decide  with  musicians  what  gets   out  to  the  country  and  give  people  alternate   means  of  informaBon”     -­‐  Geoff  Travis  in  Hesmondhalgh,  1997:  265    
  18. 18. The  Cartel   Revolver  (Bristol),  Red  Rhino  (York),  Probe  (Liverpool)   9  Mile  (Leamington  Spa),  Fast  Forward  (Edinburgh),    Backs  (Norwich),  and  Rough  Trade  (London).      
  19. 19. Rough  Trade  was  iniBally  organized  as  a  cooperaBve  that  stood   in  stark  contrast  to  the  structure  of  major  corporaBons.   IniBally,  all  Rough  Trade  employees,  from  directors  to  those   working  in  the  warehouse,  were  paid  the  same.  All  company   decisions  were  made  at  general  assemblies,  and  all  employees   were  allowed  to  have  a  voice  in  company  decisions.     -­‐  Fonarow,  2006:  34  
  20. 20. The  independent  label  dream  .  .  .  was  that   romanBc  noBon  of  going  it  alone,  pure  and   untainted  by  hype  and  mulBnaBonal   marketeers”     -­‐  Cavanagh  2000:  viii  
  21. 21. Traits:   •  RespecBng  arBsBc  vision   •  FacilitaBng  not  intervening   •  Not  concerned  with  popularity   •  Local  autonomy   •  RejecBon  of  corporate  values   •  RejecBon  of  London-­‐based  corporates   •  Favoured  smaller  retail  outlets  
  22. 22. 1990s   Indie  became  high  profile  in  dedicated  music  press     Major  labels  bought  smaller  labels  
  23. 23. The  decision  to  take  the  independent  route   represented  an  emoBonal  rejecBon,  based  on   ethics  and  poliBcal  beliefs,  of  everything  the  major   labels  stood  for  .  .  .  major  labels  were  greedy   corporaBons  staffed  by  uncool  straights  who   maltreated  and  undermined  their  arBsts,  and   thought  nothing  of  diluBng  the  art  itself  to  make  it   commercially  viable  .  .  .  here  was  the  righteous   indie  band  making  interesBng  music  without   compromise;  and  over  there  was  the  banally   ambiBous,  morally  capitulaBng  group  that  had  sold   its  soul  to  a  major  label  for  money.     -­‐  Cavanagh  2000:  38–39  
  24. 24. 1.  a  type  of  musical  produc-on  affiliated  with   small  independent  record  labels  with  a   disBncBve  mode  of  independent  distribuBon     2.  a  genre  of  music  that  has  a  parBcular  sound   and  stylisBc  convenBons   3.  music  that  communicates  a  parBcular  ethos   4.  a  category  of  cri-cal  assessment   5.  music  that  can  be  contrasted  with  other   genres  
  25. 25. LimitaBon  of  mode  of  producBon?   Many  genres  can  be  independent  (techno,  drum  &  bass,  house,  jungle,   hardcore,  etc)  
  26. 26. BriBsh  indie  “has  itself  se:led  into  sBfling   orthodoxy:  an  insistence  on  short  songs,  lo-­‐fi,   minimalism,  purism,  and  guitars,  guitars,  guitars”     -­‐  Simon  Reynolds  in  Kruse,  1993:  36    
  27. 27. Indie  music  is  generally  played  by  slender  young   white  males  in  their  late  teens  to  early  thirBes.   Most  indie  bands  are  basic  four-­‐piece  combos   with  electric  guitar,  bass,  drums,  and  vocals.   Although  other  instruments  such  as  strings,   keyboards,  organs,  or  horns  do  appear,  the  four-­‐ piece  combo  is  the  primary  structure  for  indie   bands.     -­‐  Fonarow,  2006:    
  28. 28. Feminine-­‐genre?   “anB-­‐macho  shrinking  violet,”     “terrifyingly  fey,”     “[a]  melancholic  take  on  indiedom’s  bookish   wimpiness”     -­‐  Harris  2003:  386    
  29. 29. Defining  ‘indie’   1.  a  type  of  musical  produc-on  affiliated  with   small  independent  record  labels  with  a   disBncBve  mode  of  independent  distribuBon     2.  a  genre  of  music  that  has  a  parBcular  sound   and  stylisBc  convenBons   3.  music  that  communicates  a  parBcular  ethos   4.  a  category  of  cri-cal  assessment   5.  music  that  can  be  contrasted  with  other   genres  
  30. 30. A|tude   “The  theory  of  independence  was  discovered  in  the  act   of  pu|ng  out  your  own  records,  doing  very  well,  being   friends  with  your  arBsts,  and  not  ripping  them  off.  And   by  1981  we  were  all  doing  it”     -­‐  Tony  Wilson  in  Harris  2003:  8  
  31. 31. Class   Generally  a  middle-­‐class  phenomenon  (university/art   school  educated)   Idealizes  working  class  experiences  as  ‘authenBc’  
  32. 32. Defining  ‘indie’   1.  a  type  of  musical  produc-on  affiliated  with   small  independent  record  labels  with  a   disBncBve  mode  of  independent  distribuBon     2.  a  genre  of  music  that  has  a  parBcular  sound   and  stylisBc  convenBons   3.  music  that  communicates  a  parBcular  ethos   4.  a  category  of  cri-cal  assessment   5.  music  that  can  be  contrasted  with  other   genres  
  33. 33. CriBcal?   •  Image  of  the  ‘anorak’  or  ‘trainspo:er’   •  Obsessive   •  Self-­‐referenBal  and  self-­‐reflexive   •  MasochisBc  and  introspecBve  
  34. 34. IntrospecBon   •  What  the  hell  am  I  doing  here?  /  I  don’t  belong  here   –  “Creep”  by  Radiohead   •  I’ll  be  the  corpse  in  your  bathtub  /  Useless   –  “Newborn”  by  Elbow   •  I  sit  all  alone  /  Alone  is  all  I’ll  ever  be   –  “Season”  by  Ash   •  I  can  show  you  sadder  poetry  /  than  you  ever  dreamed  there  could  be  /  I   know  all  the  saddest  people  /  most  of  them  are  dead  now   –  “Save  a  Secret  for  the  Moon”  by  the  MagneBc  Fields   •  I  think  I’m  drowning  /  asphyxiaBng  .  .  .     –  “Time  Is  Running  Out”  by  Muse   •  So  you  go,  and  you  stand  on  your  own  /  and  you  leave  on  your  own  /  and   you  go  home  and  you  cry  /  and  you  want  to  die   –  “How  Soon  Is  Now”  by  the  Smiths)  
  35. 35. Defining  ‘indie’   1.  a  type  of  musical  produc-on  affiliated  with   small  independent  record  labels  with  a   disBncBve  mode  of  independent  distribuBon     2.  a  genre  of  music  that  has  a  parBcular  sound   and  stylisBc  convenBons   3.  music  that  communicates  a  parBcular  ethos   4.  a  category  of  cri-cal  assessment   5.  music  that  can  be  contrasted  with  other   genres  
  36. 36.   Indie  as  a  Mode  of  AestheBc  Judgment   •  DiscriminaBng   •  EvaluaBve     •  A  discursive  pracBce   •  Canonical  
  37. 37. EliBsm  
  38. 38. BRITs  vs  Brats  
  39. 39. The  ArcBc  Monkeys   Internet  fanbase  via  MySpace     Singed  to  indie  label  Domino  in  June  2005   Signed  to  EMI  Publishing  in  Octover  2005  for  approx  £1   million   23rd  October  2005  :  debut  single  enters  charts  at  No.1   2006:  Debut  album  was  the  fastest  selling  BriBsh  debut   of  all  Bme   Sparked  a  race  to  find  idenBkit  bands  
  40. 40. BRIT  awards  2008  
  41. 41. The  backlash   “ScouBng  For  Girls  somehow  occupy  a  realm  of  musical  badness  that  even   the  Darkness'  JusBn  Hawkins  at  his  most  creaBvely  distraught  may  sBll  find   difficult  to  comprehend.  How  bad  is  this  supernaturally  bad  "badness"  which   ScouBng  For  Girls  have  virtually  turned  into  an  art  form?  One  could  say  that   they're  the  Kooks  but  wacky  (and  therefore  worse),  but  that  requires  some   context.  So  here  it  is:  in  2006  the  Kooks  first  entered  the  Top  20,  excelling  at   the  type  of  bland,  crowd-­‐pleasing  hit-­‐wriBng  that  propelled  indie  music  from   being  independently  spirited  to  becoming  the  mainstream  pop  genre…”  
  42. 42. The  backlash   “…By  2007  a  generaBon  of  teen  TV  presenters  rode  this  wave  of  mediocre   pseudo-­‐indie  and  Channel  4's  schedules  were  filled  with  woeful,  will-­‐this-­‐do   music  shows  sponsored  by  phone  companies.  Bands  like  the  Pigeon   DetecBves  and  the  AutomaBc  had  hits;  at  the  end  of  the  2007  fesBval  season   ScouBng  For  Girls  scored  their  first  Top  10  single.  Indie  was  the  new  pop,  but   it  had  also  turned  beige.”  
  43. 43. Indie  post-­‐internet   •  Many  of  the  defining  characterisBcs  are  no  longer  factors  (ie  producBon,   distribuBon,  retail)     •  Easier  to  reach  a  wider  and  more  dispersed  audience   •  ShiK  towards  live  music  sales  over  prerecorded  sales  

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