our team

services

SANCTUARY

Aenean tellus urna, vehicula quis quam vel, finibus sollicitudin quam maecenas mollis risus eu purus faucibus efficitur.

What is an Indie Musician? 4 details to clear your confusion
Written by:
Emily Plazek

This article gives more clarity to what defines an indie musician -- but we also want to explain how that applies to The MIC MVMT (join it here!) The MVMT brings together a network of indie bands/artists (Front Line), the musicians for-hire (Behind-The-Scenes) and freelancers (Creatives) that can help those indie bands/artists achieve their goals. For more information go the The MVMT here!

On with our article....

20170124 234PM Sanctuary Studios

I rattle off my elevator pitch of what I do with MIC PGH like I’m reciting the 50-States song I had to memorize for Kindergarten graduation (one of my rare geographic feats, thank you very much.) Without thinking. I do it so often, I bet I could do it sleep-talking.

A sweet jukebox at Spirit in Lawrenceville, featuring all local music. It's in this decked out school bus parked behind the venue. Shoutout to this cellist indie musician I'm about to show a ton in this post for taking me to Spirit so often.

Yet, it hits me every once in a while that “oh, crap, wait, not everyone knows what an indie musician is... and I say that phrase maybe 4 times in a row in my explanation".

 

So, I was directly inspired to release this post ASAP because yesterday a colleague who works with me on some of my other corporate marketing work -- he asked if I help bands like The xx. 

Here is an example of an indie musician! The killer Leland Shaw.

In my slowness I thought “Oh boy, are The xx indie? I should know that by now, that's my bad!”, and I promptly Googled their Wikipedia – and no, they’re signed (to an indie label, ironically.)

  

Oh... He thought I meant the indie genre of music, like indie rock.

 

(Also, it’s hitting me even harder as I write this that wow, yeah there are way too many uses of the word “indie” in the music world – musicians, labels, rock genres.)

 

So, if you hadn’t yet understood what I mean by “indie musician”, you’re not alone! I wouldn't've blamed you for wondering why a company would need to exist to help a specific genre of music. (“…is alternative music harder to live out than all the others for some reason? …maybe it’s the ambiguous emotions? Or the mandatory angst and need to upkeep the cool factor?”)

 

So let me clear the air with a tactful, 4-bullet point list:

1)   “Indie Musicians” are musicians that are not signed to record labels (also referred to simply as "labels").

They conduct their careers of their own volition and grit, and because of the level of control they have at this stage, they usually own 100% of their music (divided among band members if you’re indie musicians in a band, see #2). This ownership allows for complete control over your artistic integrity, and choice of what activities to engage in or not (i.e., if you're not excited by the idea of touring? Then don't do it, there's no label to force you to do so!) There are different types of labels, and the "Major Labels" are the ones that most people are referring to when making these types of to-be-indie-or-not-to-be-indie career decisions (see #3.)

Here's an example of an indie band! Standard Broadcast, from Pittsburgh.

2)   “Indie Artists” and “Indie Bands” are examples of “Indie Musicians.”

You are all musicians. You all are "independent"/"indie" or "not signed to" labels. This is just a verb plurality or preference thing.

3)   There are Independent Record Labels ("Indie Labels"), and not all the musicians signed to them are “Indie Musicians”, but not necessarily the opposite either. 

There are some fantastic indie labels out there that you can sign to and they'll help you with parts of your career puzzle, and not force you to hand over the rights to your music or anything shady -- so you stay, essentially, indie. There are also indie labels that act just like a major label, so it's all about your choice and your contract.

 

Lastly, here's an example of an indie label, O.G. Records, formerly Rustic Justice!.

4)   To be an indie musician you don’t necessarily have to never work with a label (it’s just less overwhelming to explain #1 to people, but let us explain a little more now:) 

 

I'm going to skip the debate about whether labels are demons out to get you or not. Just see it like this:

 

Labels are conduits for making all the different areas of your career come to life via funding and connections: think certain types of touring, radio play, publishing (getting your music into things like TV, movies, commercials), etc. The point of the IMBM is to prove that you can conduct all of these functions on your own (no lie!), but if you hit a point like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis where you want to go really big in some capacity (more "mainstream", for lack of a better word), then maybe you could use a label's help. For M & RL, they needed a label’s funding and connections to get on Top 40 radio and plan a worldwide tour. They had enough leverage because of their fanbase and successes so far that they got a customized deal with a label instead of a 360 deal (the most ominous of all record deals, where the label gets a percentage or "cut" of everything related to you and your music entity/brand -- it gets scary intrusive.)

  

 It might be the right thing for you to use a label at some point! If you don’t sign away the rights to your music or your brand or your entity, then you’re still considered an Indie Musician in MIC PGH’s book.

That's enough for now. Sign up for the mailing list below, and follow @EmilyPlazek and @MICPGH on all your favorite social media. Till next time, much love,

-Ems

What is an Indie Musician? 4 details to clear your confusion
What is an Indie Musician? 4 details to clear your confusion
MIC is my baby.

This article gives more clarity to what defines an indie musician -- but we also want to explain how that applies to The MIC MVMT (join it here!) The MVMT brings together a network of indie bands/artists (Front Line), the musicians for-hire (Behind-The-Scenes) and freelancers (Creatives) that can help those indie bands/artists achieve their goals. For more information go the The MVMT here!

On with our article....

20170124 234PM Sanctuary Studios

I rattle off my elevator pitch of what I do with MIC PGH like I’m reciting the 50-States song I had to memorize for Kindergarten graduation (one of my rare geographic feats, thank you very much.) Without thinking. I do it so often, I bet I could do it sleep-talking.

A sweet jukebox at Spirit in Lawrenceville, featuring all local music. It's in this decked out school bus parked behind the venue. Shoutout to this cellist indie musician I'm about to show a ton in this post for taking me to Spirit so often.

Yet, it hits me every once in a while that “oh, crap, wait, not everyone knows what an indie musician is... and I say that phrase maybe 4 times in a row in my explanation".

 

So, I was directly inspired to release this post ASAP because yesterday a colleague who works with me on some of my other corporate marketing work -- he asked if I help bands like The xx. 

Here is an example of an indie musician! The killer Leland Shaw.

In my slowness I thought “Oh boy, are The xx indie? I should know that by now, that's my bad!”, and I promptly Googled their Wikipedia – and no, they’re signed (to an indie label, ironically.)

  

Oh... He thought I meant the indie genre of music, like indie rock.

 

(Also, it’s hitting me even harder as I write this that wow, yeah there are way too many uses of the word “indie” in the music world – musicians, labels, rock genres.)

 

So, if you hadn’t yet understood what I mean by “indie musician”, you’re not alone! I wouldn't've blamed you for wondering why a company would need to exist to help a specific genre of music. (“…is alternative music harder to live out than all the others for some reason? …maybe it’s the ambiguous emotions? Or the mandatory angst and need to upkeep the cool factor?”)

 

So let me clear the air with a tactful, 4-bullet point list:

1)   “Indie Musicians” are musicians that are not signed to record labels (also referred to simply as "labels").

They conduct their careers of their own volition and grit, and because of the level of control they have at this stage, they usually own 100% of their music (divided among band members if you’re indie musicians in a band, see #2). This ownership allows for complete control over your artistic integrity, and choice of what activities to engage in or not (i.e., if you're not excited by the idea of touring? Then don't do it, there's no label to force you to do so!) There are different types of labels, and the "Major Labels" are the ones that most people are referring to when making these types of to-be-indie-or-not-to-be-indie career decisions (see #3.)

Here's an example of an indie band! Standard Broadcast, from Pittsburgh.

2)   “Indie Artists” and “Indie Bands” are examples of “Indie Musicians.”

You are all musicians. You all are "independent"/"indie" or "not signed to" labels. This is just a verb plurality or preference thing.

3)   There are Independent Record Labels ("Indie Labels"), and not all the musicians signed to them are “Indie Musicians”, but not necessarily the opposite either. 

There are some fantastic indie labels out there that you can sign to and they'll help you with parts of your career puzzle, and not force you to hand over the rights to your music or anything shady -- so you stay, essentially, indie. There are also indie labels that act just like a major label, so it's all about your choice and your contract.

 

Lastly, here's an example of an indie label, O.G. Records, formerly Rustic Justice!.

4)   To be an indie musician you don’t necessarily have to never work with a label (it’s just less overwhelming to explain #1 to people, but let us explain a little more now:) 

 

I'm going to skip the debate about whether labels are demons out to get you or not. Just see it like this:

 

Labels are conduits for making all the different areas of your career come to life via funding and connections: think certain types of touring, radio play, publishing (getting your music into things like TV, movies, commercials), etc. The point of the IMBM is to prove that you can conduct all of these functions on your own (no lie!), but if you hit a point like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis where you want to go really big in some capacity (more "mainstream", for lack of a better word), then maybe you could use a label's help. For M & RL, they needed a label’s funding and connections to get on Top 40 radio and plan a worldwide tour. They had enough leverage because of their fanbase and successes so far that they got a customized deal with a label instead of a 360 deal (the most ominous of all record deals, where the label gets a percentage or "cut" of everything related to you and your music entity/brand -- it gets scary intrusive.)

  

 It might be the right thing for you to use a label at some point! If you don’t sign away the rights to your music or your brand or your entity, then you’re still considered an Indie Musician in MIC PGH’s book.

That's enough for now. Sign up for the mailing list below, and follow @EmilyPlazek and @MICPGH on all your favorite social media. Till next time, much love,

-Ems

Follow us on our Social Networks

Subscribe to get our latest news