Indie: A Modern Style and Genre

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Indie: A Modern Style and Genre

Indie band Glass Animals performs in front of a live audience. Labeled for reuse by Flickr.

Indie band Glass Animals performs in front of a live audience. Labeled for reuse by Flickr.

Indie band Glass Animals performs in front of a live audience. Labeled for reuse by Flickr.

Indie band Glass Animals performs in front of a live audience. Labeled for reuse by Flickr.

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From Glass Animals to Donnie Darko, indie music, movies, clothing and art are scattered everywhere. However, few know much about what really goes into indie projects.

What does indie mean?

To some people, “indie” is just a genre of music, but this is simple in comparison to the term’s actual meaning.

According to, “indie” can be defined as an independently or privately owned business, especially film or music companies which aren’t affiliated with larger and more commercial companies.

This basically means that anything considered “indie” has been produced by small groups of people, often possessing limited budgets.

CNN broadened this definition, stating that “the term ‘indie’ traditionally refers to independent art.” This means that anything from literature to film that’s independently owned is considered indie.

Most artists can be called indie as they begin their careers, seeing as they don’t have sponsors, and are usually working alone.

According to Dave Charest, everything indie has a “do it yourself mentality.” To him, an artist is a practitioner, or someone engaged in the art they are doing.

Indie as Music:

Udiscovermusic says that indie music consists of “small and relatively low-budget record labels inspired by punk’s DIY ethos and releasing music for misfits made by the maverick outsiders who reject the corporate world of rock’n’roll.”

Most indie music awakened during the 90s from artists such as Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, and has since then, inspired more aspiring artists to create music.

The following two bands are highly popular in the indie community and industry. has listed the band, Arctic Monkeys, as the most listened-to indie band, with over three million streamers. Arctic Monkeys is an indie rock band originally formed in the United Kingdom in 2002. The band was first initiated when the members were in high school; their rise began in 2005, when they released their first EP, titled “Whatever People Say I Am”.

Person holds Arctic Monkeys album cover in record store. Labeled for reuse by Unsplash.

Since this release, Arctic Monkeys has grown and is still making headlines in indie music. The band is currently worth $30 million, and continues to augment.

For reference, compared to the value of this indie band, voguish pop singer Taylor Swift has an average net worth of over $320 million.

Another popular indie band is Glass Animals. Led by singer Dave Bayley, Glass Animals is an Oxford-based band whose members came together during college. The group of then college students released their first EP titled “Leaflings” in 2012, which led to their rise.

Glass Animals performs concert to full audience. Labeled for reuse by Wikimedia Commons.

Following this release, Glass Animals has thrived and attended festivals. The band has also gone on tour, taking stops all over the United States, including Colorado’s Red Rocks in 2018.

Compared to Glass Animals, Selena Gomez performs at more reputable stadiums and events such as the Billboard Music Awards. This is one of the biggest contrasts between mainstream and indie stars.

In an interview conducted by CNN, Ryan Schreiber, a magazine editor, gave his thoughts on why he thinks indie music is as popular as it is.

Schreiber noted that indie has, “for years, been sort of the de facto label for an entire subculture of idealistic artists and music fans who place a lot of stock in the idea of making music for [people] or [their] friends, rather than for profit or popularity.”

Indie as Film:

Indie can also be considered a movie genre.

One popular indie movie is The Breakfast Club.

The estimated budget for The Breakfast Club was $1 million. The movie was filmed in very few locations, and definitely won’t be remembered for its cinematography, but is a legacy for its character development.

However, The Breakfast Club has become a shining star in the popular spread of 80s movies.

For reference, the movie Avatar had a budget of over $237 million.

The film Donnie Darko is also considered indie.

Known for its cult-horror feel, Donnie Darko is among the most popular indie films. According to Forbes, the original budget for the movie was $4.5 million. The movie was filmed in a staggering 28 days, making its success even more surprising.

Although the movie is popular today, it wasn’t at first. Due to its unfortunate timing in release after the devastating 9/11 attacks, the movie didn’t receive much attention, but as word spread, it became more successful.

Now a winner of awards such as the Silver Screen Award (IMDb), Donnie Darko goes on to prove that small-budget films can be successful.

Indie as Gaming:

There are also indie games, a popular one being Minecraft.

Minecraft started small, and has become the world’s most successful indie game. EtonDigital explained that the game is so popular because it allows players to engage in “a relatively superior level of open-ended creativity.”

Digital image of Minecraft character sitting shot from an above perspective. Image labeled for reuse by Unsplash.

Since its first release in 2009, Minecraft has sold over 11 million copies. All of this success came from only one original game designer, who probably never saw this coming.

What does this mean for the future of music and style?

The successes shown from these different forms of indie prove that any ambitious small artist or industry can prosper easily with hard work and dedication.

Indie continues to live on and won’t die down anytime soon, says Udiscovermusic.

“Indie imprints both old and new and remains innovative and active, while acclaimed albums from newer indie/alt.rock visionaries all conspire to suggest that rumors of this resilient genre’s demise are recklessly premature.”

Five indie bands worth listening to:

  1. Glass Animals:
  2. Arctic Monkeys:
  3. Rex Orange County:
  4. Mac Demarco:
  5. MGMT:
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