In today’s indie music scene, there seems to be a fine line between what’s deemed “authentic” and what’s deemed “commercialized” and therefore lacking quality. It’s an interesting phenomenon that has only come about recently in our culture. In today’s society we are sent a barrage of images and advertisements for everything on a daily basis. It’s tough to handle it all. Thus, a large sect of individuals, particularly young people in their twenties and thirties, deemed Hipsters by the media, have become disillusioned with consumerism and corporatized, generic music. In the music industry, this translates to meaning that bands who achieve financial success, either by way of signing a major record deal, or selling a song for placement in an advertisement or TV show, end up gaining fame (and potentially fortune), but losing credibility within the spectrum of loyal fans and music listeners.
It’s a funny phenomenon, really, and has given rise to the development of small, independent record labels, on a mission to produce marketable, yet authentic, music. Largely, this has been wonderful for the music industry, allowing bands and musicians to achieve some semblance of financial success as an artist, while also representing their music as authentically and “bought” (or just given), rather than “sold”. For a case in point, Joe Pug, an Indie-Folk musician out of Austin,TX, by way of Chicago, IL, by way of Chapel Hill, NC, ended up producing his first EP entitled, “Nation of Heat” completely on his own. After putting a post on his website in 2008 inviting people interested in his music to request a free copy, he began mailing out CD’s to anyone who wanted them. In a little over a year, Joe had sent off nearly 10,000 copies of his CD all by request. This provided him with a large, loyal fanbase in towns across the country where he’d never played or even been before. His music is deemed authentic by those people, and then acknowledged by way of the press and media, and his career has taken off. He’s respected by everyone, and has a true career as a musician.
On the other hand, bands like the Avett Brothers, who started on a small label, Ramseur Records, end up signing a larger deal, achieving commercial success on a massive level, and then being snubbed by the media and formerly loyal fans.