The Rise of Indie Music and Its Effect on Mashup Culture

Thank God for the indie musician. No, really. Independent music has exploded over the last decade or so and really, it’s been one of the best things to happen to Mashup Culture.

This explosion in the independent music scene is due, for the most part, (predictably) the Internet. Before the internet, finding independent music was really difficult. You had to basically either be “in the know” or know someone who was to find a musician you wouldn’t hear on the local top 40 station. Getting your hands on physical representations of their media was even harder because music used to be much more expensive to physically produce. Even cassettes cost money, and then the artist had to spend hours and hours dubbing the original recording on to those cassettes to have something to sell at shows.

Now the independent artist can “professionally” record music using equipment that plugs into and is mixed by his or her laptop. Then they simply upload the recorded file to a site like BandCamp, CDBaby, iTunes, Google Play, etc and viola! Readily available tunes to anybody who wants to stream or download them. With even a minimal marketing effort, the independent musician can create a loyal following for him or herself with just a few clicks of some buttons on a computer.

What makes this great for us, the Mashup artists is that the independent musicians are far more liberal when it comes to allowing artists like us to sample their work to create something of our own. Most are happy to allow us access to that music in exchange for simply giving them credit for their work and maybe a link to their band’s website. They might even promote the mashup for us.

Of course, the invention of the Internet wasn’t all it took to help the indie scene explode. It took a few visionaries to figure out how to use it to promote indie culture and to drum up support for the movement. Here are just a few of the major players who have helped create the scene we all know, love and sometimes even take for granted today.

Jordan Kurland

Jordan Kurland is a big wig for the NoisePop music festival and the founder of Zeitgeist (a management company). NoisePop and Zeitgeist are famous for showcasing and representing indie musicians without stripping those musicians of their creativity.

On the contrary, one of the major philosophies behind Zeitgeist is not just allowing the musicians to do their own thing but acting as a facilitator for those musicians and helping them do their own thing. Says Jordan Kurland: “it’s all about looking at and examining what people are reacting to…” (source: Idea Mensch). He’s credited with discovering and helping bands like Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers, Rogue Wave and The Postal Service.

Ian Hogarth and Paul Smith

Ian Hogarth and Paul Smith are the brain children behind SongKick. SongKick helps fans track their favorite artists and it helps artists see where there is demand for their music and concerts. SongKick is the parent company behind Detour, a service that, essentially, allows an artist’s to plan “guaranteed” successful shows ahead of time. Users pledge money for tickets but are only charged if the show actually happens. The artists, then, can use their SongKick and Detour data to help secure venues that will hold everybody and to prove to venues that might be wary of the indie musician that the artist really will sell out the show. It’s called on-demand touring and it’s going to be the next big thing.

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey is the founder of Square, Inc—the mobile payment service that has taken over the world. Square is something that even you, the indie mashup artist, can take advantage of to help earn money off of your work. Because it works with every mobile device, you can take credit cards for your stuff no matter where you are. Simply plug in the Square reader, swipe the buyer’s card and viola! You’ve earned money from a thing you’ve sold. Square is so successful that companies like Intuit and PayPal have jumped on its bandwagon and introduced card swipers and mobile payment programs of their own.

Did we miss anybody? Who’s your favorite “major player” on the Indie Scene? Who do you think is helping to further the mashup and indie culture?