Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"The True Meaning of INDIE"

by Bob Baker

We hear the term "indie" bounced around a lot these days. It's become quite a trendy word (although some of us have been preaching about it for more years than most). So, let me ask you ...

What's your definition of indie?

Many people think of it as a reference to a musician, small record label or film company without an affiliation with a major corporation. That's true, but I believe it has a much deeper meaning than that.

(By the way, "indie" is an abbreviation for "independent." The "ie" at the end is the proper spelling, as opposed to "indy," which is usually a reference to Indiana or Indianapolis -- as in the Indy 500. There's your grammar lesson for the day :)

I think of indie in much the same way I think of the term "guerrilla." It's more than a simple, surface-level reference to your financial backing. I believe it's a state of mind and a way of life you must bring to your entire pursuit of music.

The best way to explain my angle on this is to use an acronym. So here's my definition of I-N-D-I-E, with every letter standing for a separate concept (and I didn't even use the word "independent," which was tempting considering I had two I's to work with).

I - Inspired

To embrace the indie frame of mind, you must be inspired. You have to know in your gut that music is what you are meant to do. You must become energized when writing, recording and performing your music. Hopefully, this is something you already experience fully, without having to force yourself to feel that way.

When this kind of natural inspiration comes over you, it's a sure sign that you're on the right path. And you will need this desire to carry you through the ups and downs of pursuing the independent music path.

N - Nontraditional

Indie musicians don't mind learning about what has come before, and they are happy to listen to the "rules" that others say are required to have a successful music career. However, the smartest indie artists keep their minds flexible and constantly ask questions about how the supposed "rules" of the past really apply to them. They actually develop a mindset that seeks out the road less traveled. And when they spot a good idea that's off the traditional path, they fearlessly go after it without apologies.

D - Determined

Successful indie artists are fixated on their goals and determined to reach them. They still leave room to veer from the original plan, when needed, but they are steadfast in their desire to produce more and better music, reach more fans, sell more CDs, etc. With this attitude, obstacles become short-term learning experiences along the road to higher levels of success.

I - Innovative

Being an indie means thinking outside of the proverbial box and looking at fresh opportunities from every angle. It means not promoting yourself the same way a thousand other acts have done it. It means being resistant to knee-jerk marketing tactics and open to new ideas and overlooked avenues for exposure.

E - Empowered

Indie musicians don't wait for someone or something else to come along and rescue them. They don't pray for a "lucky break" or to "be discovered." They know to the core that the power to succeed with their music resides inside of them. And they understand that it's their mission to tap into that personal power and use it to share their music with the world.

Let's recap my definition of INDIE:

I - Inspired
N - Nontraditional
D - Determined
I - Innovative
E - Empowered

Print this article and pin it up where you'll see it every day.

Being INDIE has nothing to do with what company you are or are not affiliated with. It has everything to do with how much you take control of your own life and take steps to build the kind of music career you deserve.




Bob Baker is the author of "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook," "Unleash the Artist Within" and "Branding Yourself Online." He also publishes TheBuzzFactor.com, a web site and e-zine that deliver marketing tips, self-promotion ideas and other empowering messages to music people of all kinds. Get your FREE subscription to Bob's e-zine by visiting The Buzz Factor today.

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