To Be Indie Or Not To Be Indie? There Is No Question

To Be Indie Or Not To Be Indie? There Is No Question

An opinion piece by Justin Lam Sin Cho.

The “indie” brand is part of our culture these days, but it’s a shame to think just how many people don’t realise what the true meaning behind the word is. The following list will make things much clearer.

You’re indie if:
You’re a band that produces music independently from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries.

You’re not indie if:
You listen to indie music
You’ve heard a band before someone else
You wear your mum and dad’s clothing
You have a band and have jam sessions in your parent’s garage
You use Instagram
You talk about changing the world
You like cats
You listen to Radiohead

If you’re not indie it’s definitely not the end of the world, because believe it or not – it shouldn’t actually be a thing. The only people who should be calling themselves indie are actual bands looking for their breakthrough in the music industry, that is the whole meaning behind independent music. I have people telling me that I’m “indie” for listening to Phoenix. There are two things wrong with that statement. Firstly, Phoenix are far from an indie band, and secondly as I have said before you cannot be “indie” for listening to indie music.

Why should I be complaining about this “indie” situation? Well it’s mainly because I don’t enjoy the fact that we are grouping people into this particular made-up category. You’ve seen how the “indie” scene is stereotyped and ridiculed in society but in reality, we’re making fun of something that doesn’t technically exist. Somehow not being signed to a record label was associated with being different and “cool,” and this scene that shouldn’t have existed in the first place was born. I’ll let you in on a little secret: bands want to get signed to a record label, they want to be successful (perhaps I’ve said too much) and when they do they’re more than glad to lose that indie label. I accept that there are bands that choose to remain independent because they enjoy their freedom, but that is a personal preference in life – they aren’t doing it to be cool or worse, start silly trends.

I can’t help but think that if being “indie” weren’t a thing we would live a much a more harmonious life. Maybe we should’ve just called it independent music because that would’ve been way less catchy. What I do find hilarious nowadays is the fact that “indie” is interpreted to be different. Take a look around yourself – are you any different to the person sitting next to you?

Filed: Reviews


  1. Hugh says:

    Hasn’t the term “indie” just morphed into something else over time like so many words before it?

  2. I agree with Hugh, indie is now more than the original meaning, it’s a style of genre… Learn to accept it brother

  3. Justin Lam says:

    Will I understand what it has become, but in the process it has given the term “indie” a bad name for itself. There are some truly indie bands out there who don’t want to be associated with what society has perceivably denoted “indie” to mean whether it is the way one acts or how they dress in public.

  4. Allan says:

    I don’t really think it’s possible to give “indie” a bad name? The people who “act indie” are generally passive and just through their adopted believe system alone have made selling music an almost possibility for small bands again. “Indie”, as its generally thought of isn’t specific to music at all. Anyone who creates incredible content, well out of their means, without the intervention of (or even in spite of) corporation or industry in my eyes is generally “indie”. So why can’t their followers be “indie” as well?

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