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Indie music is short for independent music, and rather than typify a particular musical style, it describes a mindset, philosophy and culture with which diverse musicians align themselves. Indie artists place great emphasis on self-expression and prefer the freedom of being in full control of their own recording and publishing, rather than having the ideas of producers and sound engineers supersede their own. They aren't all that hung up on commercial success and make music for music's sake, for the enjoyment of it and to make a basic living from it, not for huge financial gain and international fame. The mere thought of these motivations makes an indie artist want to stick a fork in the nearest electrical outlet.
The artists of the time often go against the prevailing trends. For example, the 80s, as a reaction to all the testosterone filled swaggering rock that shook the windows, indie started the twee-pop movement. The movement was characterised by jangling guitars, fey and innocent lyrics and an idealisation of 60s pop. The culture adopted a childlike innocence and assumed naiveté clothes were asexual and pastel, they read penguin books, ate sweets, and drank ginger. Their heroes included Christopher Robin and the Undertones.
A "lo-fi" aesthetic has often been associated with the genre. This was the case in the days before the massive advancements in technology, when many artists still used cassette tape recorders to record their music. These days, even with the easy availability of home technology that can do the same work that a music studio can do, a lot of artists still make use of lo-fi. They claim that it has "authentic roughness" and a raw sound, which they treasure in the face of slick, polished recordings, with all missed chords and unique mistakes wiped away.
Some artists, however, have embraced technology and invested in the relatively inexpensive recording devices that allow them to create their own studio quality music from home. The new equipment also allows them to experiment more with sound, enabling them to delve further into their creativity to express themselves. Artists have their own web sites and spaces on other sites like MySpace.com. Music blogs and social networks also play a pivotal role in getting independent music out into the public's attention. Sites that have been particularly significant in the success of a band are those that allow audience participation, i.e. giving the audience an opportunity to listen to the band and then rate them.
Other sites allow artists to upload their music so that visitors can browse the site, pick their favourite genre and listen to free artist samples. They also have access to artist biographies and may purchase any tracks that they would like. On some sites the tracks have a set price but on others the artists are allowed to sell the tracks at any price that they like.
Indie artists often create their own labels and record companies in order to sell their records and the records of artists with similar sounds to theirs. Occasionally, however, an indie band will move to a major label. These bands are often severely criticised by their fans and by the fans of indie music in general for being sellouts and for giving in to the lure of wealth and fame. It is important to note that a band doesn't secure its success by merely moving to a major label. Only 1 in 10 cds released by major labels makes any profit for the label. It is often more probable that an indie artist will make more money by producing and promoting his or her own cd than by signing with a major label.
Major labels keep a very close eye on indie labels and the emerging indie music scene. They consider indie labels to be right on top of current trends in the continuously evolving music scene. Indie labels are small and often local to a specific area, and are ideally situated to spot local talent. Because indie is such a diverse genre, they are able to promote a variety of specialised music types.