The music industry was born of the simple idea of people writing music that other people liked and selling it to them. Like most business's somewhere along the line the connection between the artist and listener had drifted. Corporate entities fronted money to artists in order to get their product out there, whilst also censoring what the artist could say or how they choose to present themselves. This had become the accepted way the business worked. “You get the attention of a record label, get signed, they pay for everything and then you get rich and famous” This had worn thin and within the underground, many artists started to realise that there were other ways they could get their music out to people.
Sniffin Glue Fanzine Brittish Library
In the late 70's Fanzines started to spread the word about bands with a more DIY approach to music, with magazines like Punk (New York) and Sniffin Glue (UK), this DIY aesthetic spread like wildfire into art, music and fashion. While many of the early successful punk bands were still signed to major labels Manchester band The Buzzcocks were the first band in this scene to look into what it would cost to record, release and sell a record themselves. The now legendary EP Spiral Scratch was sold by the band straight to stores and they sold out. They were quickly followed by Joy division. Who released An ideal for living on their own with similar success.
After these bands proved you could sell records by yourself many other bands followed suit. Most of these bands just wanted to get their music out there and due to the raw nature of the music, what was once considered a demo, was now considered a release. As these records started to sell, there was a greater need for distribution and with independent record labels like Factory, Zoo and 2 Tone emerging, musicians no longer needed to “hit the big time” They could distribute music within their means and turn a small profit with the freedom to say and play what they like.
With Independence on the rise, a diverse array of music spread through our culture. Independent music was no longer just about garage bands or punk culture and included electronic, industrial, hip hop and pop music all with a very DIY approach. Anyone could put out their own record and they did. This changed the face of our culture as people could share their thoughts directly with their audience and with independent music came independent thought.
Now we consider Indie a genre of music mostly relating to the spirit of these early Indie releases. But with the advances in recording technology allowing anyone to release music from their own home and the internet giving a home to new independent releases. Releasing media independently is now the standard practice for any aspiring artist.