Indie music news: Superchunk
In today’s contemporary art scene, the word indie carries mixed meaning. Originally, indie had to do with an artist’s professional status, whether they were affiliated with a “major” company. The title of indie pertained to film first, with visual art and music following close behind. The word basically gave a connotation of a grass roots movement.
When the punk rock movement picked up steam in the late 1980s and early 90s, the term indie began to carry a political message as well. The message was that of an anti-establishment creative, socio-political and self-governing in their mode of thought. When it comes specifically to indie rock, this term took on a particular sound as well.
Superchunk recognizes 30 years as an “independent” band, and I remember their label mates Interpol and Cat Power from the hey day of my 20s circa last decade. At the time, I had no idea about the music business, I barely followed current events. Now that I’ve grown and matured, I have to wonder whether Matador Records’ revenue competes with the majors in any way. In today’s era of Google, we’re able to easily retrieve Superchunk’s discography consisting of over 15 albums.
Another concept to consider with labeling something “indie” is its popularity. Superchunk has the classic sound and even the politically rebellious message, however, as I’ve mentioned, they are 30 years in the game on a label that represents artists with similar longevity. Since some of these groups and labels remain largely unheard of, unlike an Atlantic (with whom Superchunk was actually once affiliated) this may allow them to maintain their indie clout.
Nowadays, as with the 1980s days of yore, independent labels still negotiate distribution deals with major labels that have the funding to reach the masses. As far as the sound, even artists with a mainstream sound and following will consider themselves independent in the contemporary market if their label status says so.