“Indie music doesn’t ONLY consist of acoustic guitar, whiny voices, and shouldn’t be mistaken with teenagers who wear black rimmed glasses, put the Juno album on repeat, wear converse, and hang out at Starbucks.” – passionate person on Urban Dictionary.

Let’s define “indie” music, or at least try to. The girls adorned with flower crowns at Coachella will tell you that just about every band there is indie. Your dad, on the other hand, might spit out names of some obscure bands from the 1980’s that you’ve never come across. OK, so “indie” can’t be defined indefinitely. It has gone through a shift from “independent” to a clusterf**k of definitions and opinions of what it is and means.

The term “indie” originates from the word “independent;” if a band is independent, they have their own label. These artists are also pegged as being “underground,” thus making a name for themselves to be more difficult. Artists such as Hozier and Courtney Barnett are often pegged under the indie genre…but even they have seen above ground or commercial success. 

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Many argue that indie isn’t a genre, however, and most of the music that people consider to be indie is actually alternative. A couple years ago, indie wasn’t even a category on iTunes. Even though you might find Hozier’s new album under the indie category on iTunes, his album is still classified as alternative.

Is indie a genre? Indie is merely an adjective to describe other genres (nouns). For example, indie music has sub categories, such as indie folk, indie rock and indie pop. The Strokes and the Arctic Monkeys would be considered indie rock; Mumford and Sons would be classified as indie folk. But why indie? These bands all have major labels. An artist would probably never tell you that he or she plays “indie” music.

An instrumental take on indie music might be that it’s a unique sound; not as clean-cut as rock and country. Common characteristics would include funky time signatures, more reverb, poetic lyrics that tell a story, and an unpolished sound.Take the band Alt-J. They’re not so much indie pop or indie rock, but they don’t have an independent label. It’s hard to classify them as alternative, too, even though iTunes does.

Like the person on Urban Dictionary said, indie music does not fit a particular stereotype. Indie means a lot of things today, just not so much “independent” anymore. The frustration will continue on, but maybe we should stop being so concerned about what genre of music we like best and just enjoy it.

How do you define indie music? What artists do you consider to be indie? Read this Reddit thread for more opinions.

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