Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Indie Compilations For The Masses

According to Pitchfork Media, a number of independant labels are planning on releasing indie compilations of the genres most identifiable artists (Bloc Party, The Shins, Bright Eyes, Air, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, M. Ward, Ted Leo, Cat Power, Silversun Pickups, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth). Their market isn't, however, aimed at us already indie-rock-appreciators (or discoverers, purists, love-to-haters), but the mainstream, generation 'y' crowd; who the labels identify as the flavour of the month indie artist followers, and supporters (ipso facto, the label supporters) of tomorrow. Vice Record's Adam Shore was quoted in Entertainment Weekly last week (with facts that have yet to be confirmed, he says):
"We're partnering with MTV2, and the focus is going to be Wal-Marts, big box stores, red states, and TV advertising-- to really go beyond... We don't really expect indie rock stores to support this record. It's for the casual fan."

My opinion on all of this? If I didn't have one good, indie rock lovin' friend who turned me toward the genre, I would never have gotten in so blissfully deep. It's great for those perhaps not living in big cities where the underground music scene is strong, or is unlucky enough to not have been exposed to the genre often enough (or lucky enough to shop at Wal-Mart), to get a feel for the genre, but the idea of a sort of indie crash course doesn't shake me the right way. The independant music genre (now not necessarily independant) is an expansive, deep culture that cannot be summed up in an "Indie For Dummies" sort of compilation. White bread mainstream kids may find an indie tune catchy, but will they recognize the band's influences? Be able to relate the music to said influences? Catch on and laugh along when the band plays a David Bowie or Ace of Base cover at their live show? Buy their next album?
If this compilation inspires the infommercial-watching crowd to delve deeper in the the underground music scene, then so be it. I congratulate Matador Records for their wise business plan. But won't it ruin the image and purity of indie rock if you can call in to buy it for two easy payments of $9.99 (slashed price if they call within 10 minutes of the ad, naturally).


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