How Indie Finally OFFICIALLY Died: The Broken Indie Machine.
2k12 has been a really boring year for indie. I’ve been trying to figure out why every thing seems so boring 2 me. I am beyond uninterested, and it has impacted the quality of my blog, along with the quantity of posts that I am inspired to post. In order to attempt to move forward, I will write openly about my current perceptions on The State of the Indiesphere (even though talking about indie is effing boring, too).
R u s000 b00red with indie?
Does it feel like u just check the same indie sites/twitterfeeds/facebooks over and over again, finding nothing and more nothing?
When u click on something, do u feel more ‘link baited’ than ‘interested’?
Have u lost ur connection with artists that you once felt passionate about?
Is the thrill of finding new bands ‘gone’?
Is it ‘just time’ 2 close the book and start something new? How do we even go about doing that?
Is this just ‘part of growing up’ and ‘losing interest’ in something that once felt meaningful 2 u?
Or are we stuck in a broken system that will only perpetuate the evil buzz of the Corrupt Indie Machine?
Is the indie news cycle more ‘predictable’ and ‘boring’ than ever?
Have we reached a ‘status quo’/standard operating procedure for the buzz game that we once loved creating and deconstructing?
Did Lana Del Rey ruin it all?
Did Kanye West's 10.0 ruin it all?
Is the Indie Buzz machine totally broken and unrepairable?
I am bored with indie. Maybe every1 kinda feels this way, or I’m just losing interest in ‘indie & alt culture’, particularly the Genre Formerly Known As Indie Music. I just don’t buy the buzz any more. Maybe I’m too close, I’ve seen how the buzz is made. I’ve seen the faces behind the Corrupt Indie Machine in VIP areas across the world and while there are still some pure souls, it is a broken, unfixable machine that should be put to death. Maybe I’m just growing up, or just trying to escape the overwhelming feeling that the people who still ‘100% buy the buzz’ are laggard ass posers, stagnant cool dads and post-tweens who have some sort of Tavi-Gevinson malfunctioning/contrived nostalgia for the years 2k2-2k8. Like those young people who are just ‘trying to act like grownups’ because they didn’t have any friends as kids, or something.
Maybe I am guilty because I am part of the problem and cannot be a part of the solution.
Maybe it is time for indie ass losers to just go and die, listening to the same overhyped artist from ‘the prime years of indie’ until we all die. We’ll just keep buying ________ (tenured indie band) albums until we’re dead, growing old alongside our favorite artist that connect us to the cognitive prime of our youth even though their music already sounds old and dated.
While that’s probably true, I don’t think it’s time yet, and we deserve one last phase of innovation before we are officially irrelevant and metaphorically wearing diapers because we shit ourselves’ and no longer deserve 2 be alive. Sometimes I’ll think about why I no longer enjoy music festivals, and I’ll think, “That’s for the tweens and teens.” But I feel like I’m shorting myself of a meaningful experience because of commitment and intimacy issues.
I have always taken an internet-centric point of view when it comes to music, meaning that indie = internet music. An internet enabled genre that scaled alongside indie websites in order to create a day to day experience with users. Eventually, ‘mainstream’ websites began to cover ‘indie’ as well, and now it is all just a pretty standard newscycle. It has been that way for a few years, not a ‘new’ or ‘innovative take.’ But what makes the indiesphere different is that we are ‘curating/enabling/facilitating art’ so there is a direct relationship between the media and the art. It’s not like sports where the media doesn’t impact the outcome of the results [via decided on the field according 2 rules].
Here we are in the content farm era where Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, SPIN, HIPSTER RUNOFF, Brooklyn Vegan, AbsoluteIndieMag.biz, Stereogum, Buzzfeed Music, Shitty McBlogBlogMagazine.com/Music, GVB, FADER, Complex, [other random ass blog/dumb website/magazine] all generally post the same stuff. It’s just a matter of creating brand loyalty via aesthetics and the perception of premium content to lemming ass internet users.
Maybe just make something that people can share on Facebook to controversially discuss amongst their friends.
The demand for ‘innovative’ content has formed a buzz bubble. Chillwave and sponsored-content-wave artists were the main beneficiary of this bubble (post2k.5-2k11), but now, so many bands are getting a taste of alleged buzz ‘before they are ready’/before it even means anything in a legitimate context. The buzz machine is broken because there is no trusted, fail proof mechanism to create pure buzz.
Take for instance, Purity Ring, the initial 2k12 ‘next Grimes’ of the year. Two well intentioned weirdo Canadian kids who make decent enough music that ‘sounds the way it is supposed to sound.’ Conceptual, bleep bloop, girl saying random ass things that make no sense. They were signed to ‘major indie label’ 4AD because they ‘sounded and looked the way indie is supposed to sound and look in 2k12’ in order to ensure that it was adequately covered, attended, and sold well.
It looks/feels/sounds like some sort of parody of what ‘indie’ has become [via Spinal Tap]. Srsly though, “WTF is she even talking about? If I wanted to hear inane jibberjabby, I would have listened to Thommy Yorke in the early 2k0s. If I wanted to hear conceptual bleep bloops, I would have built a time machine to go back to 2k8. If I wanted to buzz a boy-girl duo, I would have gone back to 2k_. If I wanted a diy conceptual light show, I would have gone back to 2k_.”
Not to belittle the artistic intentions of Purity Ring like I do with so many established acts, but it’s just hard for me to really connect with them, and not see them as trapped inside the lifeless charade that indie buzz has become. They have assembled a team of people around them who know how to play the game. That’s just boring to me. The probably isn’t even really with them, just the way that we have come to digest them, just like the previous 100 bands that we were trained to love. If anything, the Corrupt Indie Machine has forced us to digest the same meal over and over again for too long. Corrupt Content Farms are so quick to milk the life out of anything new that there are only 2 options for a ‘RISING’ buzzband’s career: Formulaic Rise 2 Indie Coverage or Immediately Fading Back into the Fringes of the Buzzlands.
Which existence is more authentic? Getting a job at Enterprise RentACar and hating ur life.
Additionally, failed memes like Kitty Pryde are just like ‘Get the fuck outta here.’ Farms are so eager to ‘break down the meme’ that Kitty Pryde didn’t even really get to happen because we already saw it with Kreayshawn/RiffRaff, except it didn’t feel like she got the corrupt buzz machine pieces behind her to generate content at a rate to ‘keep people interested’. People are so eager to adopt to a meme these days that some fat ass Korean guy is now the most famous person on the planet for mastering the William Hung act.
Content-farm-core rappers like Riff Raff are a toxic byproduct of this era. They are interesting to watch, cover, ‘think piece’ about, and gawk at, but at the end of the day, the resonate more for being an active internet participant than they do for the alleged ‘art/commerce’ that they are promoting.
“Whatever happened to the spirit of rocknroll?” [via being untraditional/breaking rules]. The rules of indie/content-farm-core are s0000 b0ring. Ughhh. I’m so00oo00o bored even writing about it. I’m so ashamed. I need some new faces from new places who aren’t just trying to play this dumb game that we’re s00oo0o bored of. UGhhh this is totally just more NOISE in ur feed. Who cares. Why even try 2 breakthru the noise on the internet? Just become a part of the noise. Tweet another dumb tweet and pray for retweets.
I am fighting against the 'real world' [via the harsh realities of the internet] squashing me and my formative indie ideals. The spirit of indie taught us that bedroom musicians could make something of themselves, creating a fruitful buzz career from a series of creative nights. We rooted for them, we enjoyed covering them. But now our buzz harvest has gone bad, and now is the Winter of Our Buzz Content.
If content farms have ruined the purity of internet content with listicles, contrived SEO-inspired Bleacher Report-wave think pieces, and other lame ass content that is still lucrative and successful, then it is clear that content farms have ruined artists. It diminishes the fan connection to an artist, and artists are also given a false sense of ‘accomplishment’ for being the 99th post out of 100 on RollingStone.com. No1 cares about ur band bro. U just look and sound the way ‘new music’ is supposed to sound.
I’m not sure if I have unreasonable expectations. There just has to be a new way that bands can ‘become bands’ other than ‘getting on the same set of websites that will issue predictable opinions on them.’ Or maybe a website can offer a new way of presenting bands without standardized commentary. Perhaps ‘streaming services’ like Spotify and Pandora have become those to some extent. Those appeal to the people who ‘just want the music’ without needing to know the context.
As for ‘blogs,’ there isn’t really any incentive to ‘curate’ a legitimately authentic flow of content any more. Once again, not a new point, but just another part of the broken indie machine. Due to the symbiotic relationship between the media and the artists, we can never have buzz the way it once was. It’s just the same old song & dance over and over again. s00oo0oo0o bored.
There hasn’t even been an interesting album cycle this year. The indie album cycle has just become this stupid ‘ceremonial process’ where every1 is supposed to knight a band and say, “Sigh... They’ve come so far. They’ve really grown into their own. They are older and wiser now.” That was cool to do in 2k9 [via the maturation of AnCo], but I guess there isn’t really anything that interesting about these bands any more, other than ‘they are indie bands that make indie music.’ Not every band deserves a pseudo-cover story or ‘think piece’ where we ‘try to figure them out.’ Due to the demand for pseudo-premium ‘long form’ content, some bands have been elevated beyond ‘nice sounding band that I listen to a few times a week but don’t need to know anything about.’
Currently, competitive content farms require 30-100 posts per day in order to stay competitive scale, maintaining a high level of pageviews and uniques [via Search Engine Optimization]. Long form ‘journalism’ is just another worthless content vertical, no more valuable than a photo gallery, interview, or viral meme recap. Readers are too dumb/don't have enough time to curate on their own, so they basically just end up lost on the web, an aimless series of links to click around. Related content that is unrelated to anything relevant.
Additionally, the content farm basically kills the singular voice of any one writer. I can’t really think of many writers who are known by ‘the common indie fan’ as an important/singular voice in indie culture/music. Sure, the ‘talent’ is theoretically there (not really, I’m just being nice [via hypotheticals]), but it is all squashed by the output of the content farm, flushed down the page and into the toilet that is the internet. I’m not even sure what to think about the insane group of ‘young writers’ who legitimately want to ‘cover new music/the indie scene.’ I feel like there aren’t people who are interested in ‘trailblazing their own vibe with their own agenda’, they only want to become one of those people responsible for 7 posts per day for an established content farm. Indie writers can then tweet endorsements about how amazing their blurbs and ‘think pieces’ are, in order to create an illusion of actually doing something that matters even though we are all trapped in the Broken Indie Machine.
There are also certain ‘rules’ to indie coverage that make it boring. You can only pan a band when it is one album too late. You are not allowed to get bored with something you praised just one album ago. Do not offend those bands and individuals who facilitate decent content. Never call out a tenured indie band for their marginal product. We are all guilty.
The weird thing is that there is tons of ‘cool’ content out there. It This ‘cool’ content is usually sponsored by some brand, curated by some website. For example, there was the ToTaLLy KeWL collab between Best Coast and some flavor on the month ‘rising’ rapper.
Theoretically this is ‘kewl’, and paid artists and the Fader Magazine with some of Coca Cola’s billion dollar advertising budget, but who cares. It’s for fucking Vitamin Water. It’s not cool. So lame. Part of me wonders if the indie blogosphere was just some sort of ‘ultimate online advertising’ beta test, where we just worked to create innovative ways to facilitate sponsored experiences.
We’ve allegedly learned that ‘even successful indie bands no longer get paid’ [via Grizzly Bear NYMag gimmicky profile piece], so it makes me feel that any post-2k8.5 buzzband’s only hope is to ‘completely sell out their sound’ [via Foster the People], or just do some solid cash grabs in sponsored opportunities. Give it a good 2-5 year run, then start a new life.
It is hard for me to ‘get legitimately excited’ about new bands because they aren’t really allowed to play by their own rules. They have to play by the rules of the large content farms, as dictated by a publicist who will ‘get them on’ a series of websites that allegedly craft their identity. Sure, some bands tour hard, winning over fans, and that will always probably be more important than ‘the internet.’ But the blogosphere used to be a place that could help artists, now it just boringly boxes them up in a content-farmmy way that might be more detrimental than the ‘old, boring magazines’ that we used to complain about.
From this point forward, referring to your band as ‘being’ or ‘sounding like’ indie will mean that you have a ba$ic ass band, stuck in the past, trying to replicate the sounds and buzz practices of yesterday. Indie exists, but no one should want to join that club any more. I don’t know what is next, and I don’t know if the internet media will perpetuate ‘indie’ until the internet dies.
When I first started this blog, I used to be excited to contribute to an ongoing discussion about art, artists, music, 'the internet indie scene', and any sort of forward progress when it came to ‘the little genre that could.’ Sure, ‘indie’ as we once loved it has been dead for a while, but I can’t help but wonder if things are going to change, who is interested in bringing about change, and if there is anything to culturally look forward to any more. I used to feel like I was sharing a real part of myself when it came to the excitement and curation of independent artists, but now I am basically just bored, resentful, bored, and disconnected.
Can an artist be considered ‘authentic’ any more when they are just processed by the Broken Indie Machine?
Who are the Next Wave of “Authentic” Artists?
The next wave of relevant artists to be excited about won’t play the game by the outdated indie content farm rules.
The next wave of relevant artists to be excited about will rediscover 100% authentic buzz.
The next wave of relevant artist to be excited about _____________________________.
The next wave of artists to be excited about will be corrupted by the Broken Indie Machine.
Can we find a new corner of the internet to find music from? Is there an untapped buzz oasis in the middle of our buzz desert [via drought]? Or will the Corrupt Indie Machine suck the buzz watering hole dry, bottling the water, and marketing it to relevant demographics by way of sponsored opportunities?
Maybe the indie experiment only existed to create Grimes, the ultimate internet content producer who makes content directly aimed at internet viewers. She is the best example of ‘not being a band/musician’, but instead a ‘playing by the rules’ content generation machine that resonates with humans wasting time on the internet.
While I will no longer refer to the Genre Formerly Known as Indie Music as ‘indie’, I still believe in the formative spirit of indie. I still feel passionate about music as a unique experience that can be cherished in meaningful ways. I’m just tired of the way things are done and can’t tell if I should just ‘shut up and deal’ or if it is realistic to believe that there are new, different ways to do things for bands, content farms, and fans. Or maybe things are awesome and this is what we always wanted and now that we have it.
Whether it’s music, culture, memes, opinions, or any sort of web content, I h8 the content farm era, because it makes me want to share less of myself because it is all just to get people to read this even if you trying to write something genuine to make a point because you want to connect with people.
“I guess we were all just killing time on the internet for the past __ years anyways. Who cares.”
-us when we die
“It all used to feel like it meant something real.”
-every1 about the past