Many musicians have conversations at some stage about whether to remain independent or pursue a contract with a record label. In previous decades, the ultimate objective for almost every musician was to sign with a major record label. However, the situation has undergone a significant transformation in recent years.
Today, there are emerging options for music lovers to listen to their favourite tracks every day. As an artist, making sure your music is available on all the latest platforms is important. Fortunately, with the diligent efforts of many individuals, major record labels no longer hold the same level of control as they used to.
Nowadays, an indie artist does not have to depend on securing a deal with a "major" record label to reach a large audience. The relationship between indie music and commercial music is complex and multifaceted. Despite the differences between indie and commercial music, the lines between the two are becoming increasingly blurred.
So let us understand what is indie music, what is commercial music and how they differ from each other.
What is Indie Music?
The meaning of the term "indie music" can be perplexing for many people because it is not a genre per se, but rather a production style. Essentially, indie music refers to independent music that is not affiliated with major record labels. There are numerous independent music labels available, and this is often where many indie bands and artists choose to release their albums or they have the liberty to produce their own music independently.
Indie music had its roots in the punk and post-punk movements of the late 1970s and early 1980s when artists began to reject the mainstream music industry and create their music outside of its constraints. Today, indie music encompasses many styles, from lo-fi singer-songwriter acoustic music to experimental electronic music and everything in between.
What is Commercial Music?
Commercial music is music that is produced primarily to generate a profit and achieve mass appeal. It is often associated with the major record labels and their subsidiaries, who invest significant resources in promoting and marketing the music to a wide audience.
Commercial music typically follows established formulas and trends and aims to appeal to a broad range of listeners. Frequently, it includes components from genres that are well-liked, such as pop, rock, hip-hop, and electronic dance music. Commercial music may prioritize catchy hooks, memorable lyrics, and a polished production style over experimentation and artistic expression.
While commercial success is a primary goal of commercial music, this does not necessarily mean that the music is of lower quality or lacking in artistic merit. Many successful commercial artists have also been praised for their musical talent and creativity.
Let us now understand how indie music and commercial music differ from each other.
One way to differentiate between indie music and commercial music is to compare their approaches to creating and distributing music. Indie music is produced independently of major record labels and typically prioritizes artistic expression and creative experimentation over commercial success. On the other hand, commercial music is produced primarily for profit and aims to appeal to a broad audience through established formulas and trends.
The decision to pursue commercial or indie music ultimately depends on the individual artist's goals and values. Here are some factors that get considered:
- Creative control
- Financial Considerations
- Personal values
- Time and resource
Ultimately, artists consider their goals and values when taking their decision. They might also want to seek advice from industry professionals and other artists to gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of each path.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, and it is important for artists to carefully consider their options before making a decision, which we will explore in another blog post.
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