This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Stop Calling Music 'Indie' -- There's No Such Thing

Stocks in this article: P AXP GM TGT AAPL

That's what's getting companies like Pandora and others into the concert streaming game. By letting musicians perform in front of a laptop and cut out some venue and promotion fees, artists keep more cash in the pockets and fans get to keep the groove they've worn into their couch nice and warm.

But what about integrity? What about that DIY work ethic? What about Dischord Records? Listen, it would be lovely if the world played along with Ian MacKaye during his Fugazi days and created an ecosystem in which artists could sustain themselves on $5 shows and publishing rights alone. But that's not happening. MacKaye was just one of the folks who helped artists find a path to independence from label influence and control, but the world musicians have to operate is -- in a whole lot of ways -- even more unfriendly to musicians and artists trying to make a living doing what they love.

Granted, there are still plenty of artists out there who refuse to place their work in commercials, but even alternate licensing routes run them afoul of corporate influence. Want to license to film? Fox (FOXA), Sony (SNE) and Time Warner's (TWX) "indie" divisions would love to pay you. Television? Even the check Washed Out received for letting the folks behind IFC's Portlandia use its song Feel It All Around as the show's theme traces back to AMC Networks (AMCX).

Unless musicians are independently wealthy or willing to crash in a squat and spare for change, they're not "independent." They have a whole lot more freedom than major label artists who have their terms dictated to them, but there's still a brand attached to many of the financial decisions related to their music.

In a sharp turn from the music landscape of 20 years ago, being comfortable with that hard-earned brand money has become an indie mark in its own right. Carrie Brownstein built her indie credibility with the entire Sleater-Kinney back catalog, so why not take American Express' (AXP) money for playing Portlandia-style characters in commercials? Lou Reed's artistic credentials were already well established by the time he pitched for Honda and he didn't veer from them once that commercial was in the can. Even Tegan and Sara didn't put their folk-pop sound on the shelf after doing a cover of the Bangles' In Your Room for Target (TGT) years before Closer.

There's a whole lot of support out there for artists willing to take it. However, there are way too many corporate benefactors behind all that artistic freedom for "indie" to be a fitting term. There's a distinction to be drawn between label musicians and their counterparts, sure, but neither functions independently. Major label signees function more as employees or, worse indentured servants. Those who spurn labels with the help of benefactors should lay claim to the sole title long assumed by colleagues who've accepted such patronage: Artists.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:


Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
3 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs