History of Indie Music
SacTV.com "Video of the Day" review by
Alex Cosper on August 19, 2012
This SacTV/PlaylistResearch video is my report on how independent music came to be. It goes against the grain of a lot of
misinformation published on websites that suggest indie is a new phenomenon in the digital age, or that it first appeared
in the 70s with punk or 80s with new wave or electronic music. While it is true that indie music has never been more popular
than in the digital age, and that it gained popularity among subcultures with punk, new wave and disco dance clubs in the
70s and 80s, indie music has been around a lot longer. In fact, it almost goes back to the beginning of recorded music
if you don't count the first few decades.
I've drawn my sources from credible music industry history books listed on Playlist Research, my other website, that explores
the history of music and platforms that deliver music to the masses. The first big wave of independent labels was actually
1917 when patents expired on record disc technology, allowing many new companies to enter the music business than just the
original big three labels (Edison, Columbia and Victor). From that explosing came blues and jazz records that influenced
what would become rhythm and blues as well as rock and roll.
In the 2000s the major labels scaled down to four big companies controlling most of the music on the radio. Many critics have
contended that this lack of diversity among ownership has led to too many predictable musical formulas, which adds to the
explanation of declining CD sales. Rising digital sales suggest that technology has played a role the expansion of indie
music, although the top sellers are still pretty much major label products. But what has opened up are new opportunities for
independent artists that did not exist in the previous century, as artists no longer have to go through strict gatekeepers
to get their music to the public.
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