Indie rock, short for "independent rock," began as a sub-genre of independently produced and distributed rock music that began in the USA and UK in the 1970s, but, as bands of that type became mainstream in the late-1990s and 2000s, the term morphed to encompass all non-standard rock bands.
Indie music started to become popular when recording equipment became more affordable to the average consumer in the 1970s and bands could record and even distribute their music without the need of a major record label. This resulted in a lower-fidelity of music which helped lead to a unique sound similar to garage rock a decade earlier. It also prevented record labels from forcing bands into producing music that fit with sales demographics, so indie artists were free to experiment more with non-standard instruments and musical styles. Many of the early indie rock bands were heavily influenced by earlier counter-culture rock bands of the punk and post-punk genre, which resulted in the term indie rock, but, as more bands began to take on independent production, sub-genres of indie rock began to emerge like emo. However, by the 1990s, the term "indie" was being applied to any band that had a sound of music similar to those bands who became popular using independent distribution, even if the band published through a major label. By the 2000s, when indie rock broke into the mainstream, even a band whose first albums were produced by major labels were called "indie rock" just because they sounded like previous indie rock bands. Indie pop grew up along side indie rock, but was more influenced by pop music than punk music, but many indie pop groups are still labeled as indie rock.
Lacking any access to indie music in the 1980s and 1990s, I didn't even know that indie music existed until the 2000s when it entered into other popular media like TV shows and movies, but I wasn't really all that impressed with anything I heard. It wasn't until an Internet friend introduced me to Rilo Kiley in to early 2000s that I started going to indie concerts and opening myself up to more indie music. For me, indie bands are very hit or miss, due in part to the fact that indie artist tend to span styles. This results in me only liking one or two songs out of their entire catalog.
Like the term "pop" music, "indie," by itself, doesn't apply to any specific musical aspect, but rather how the music was produced. Indie rock, at least, suggests that the music is rock-like, just produced with an indie label.
These are indie rock bands and artists that are important to me, some of which should be moved to indie pop.
- See Indie rock songs.