Blogger Declares “Indie Is Dead.” I Say “Bullshit.”

Hipster trapI often have hard time with the blog Hipster Runoff.

Maybe it’s the pretentious spelling that’s somewhere between an illiterate’s text message and the title of a Prince song. Maybe it’s the mix of snark and ennui. Or maybe because I can’t stand hipsters.

Whatever the case, I can’t let this article go without comment. Go ahead and read it first. I’ll wait.

* * *

So what did you think? Here’s what I took away from it.

1. The buzz and excitement around the indie scene is dead.

2. Bloggers and Lana Del Rey killed it. Too much hype. Anything released today is somehow… inauthentic.

3. The indie scene is corrupt. The wrong people are getting famous. The right people are being ignored.

4. The Good Old Days were 2002 to 2008.

5. It’s all over. Music will suck forever more.

Please. This is the same whinging that’s heard from every demo as it grows up.

(And yes, I understand that HR is a joke/parody thing, but if this was written with that in mind, it was done badly. Regardless, the points made in the points are still worth comment because I’ve heard these same complaints expressed with deadly earnestness. Read on.)

One of the most insightful things I’ve ever read (and I wish I remember where) was this: Every generation has a biological right to believe that the music of their youth is the most important and best music ever made.

There’s a special time in our lives–usually from the time we enter high school to the time we leave college and/or get a real job–when music is central to our lives. We have the time and energy to devote to listening to music, looking for music, talking about music and going to gigs. We use music as a way of forming our own identities and projecting that identity to the world. This music leads us to join communities and tribes of like-minded people. It is a time when we absolutely cannot do without music. It is inseparable from our lives.

But then something weird happens. We grow up.

-You can’t participate in music this much without acquiring personal preferences, biases and prejudices with what constitutes “good” music. You begin to listen differently, more selectively, more critically. If you don’t, then you haven’t learned anything about music.

-Our tastes evolve and mutate. If they don’t, then something is wrong.

-Life gets in the way. Jobs, families, mortgages, responsibilities. We just don’t have as much time to devote to music as we once did. Our participation begins to drop. Passion slips. Interests turn elsewhere. You still love music but it’s not the be-all and end-all it once was.

-We start thinking that the music the kids listen to these days is awful and not as good as a few years ago. They have bad taste. They don’t listen properly. They’re uneducated when it comes to what’s “good.”

But fear not. All of the above is completely normal.

Early rock’n’rollers lamented that rock died when Elvis went into the army. Hippies whined at the end of the 60s. Punkers saw the end of the world in 1979. Rock sucked in the late 80s. The Alternative Nation declared music dead in the late 90s. And now poor Hipster Runoff states that the Golden Age of Indie is over.

Please. It’s just over for you, dude. You’ve grown bored with music because you’ve been so deeply immersed in it. What got your motor runnin’ no longer produces the required dopamine dump.

Music is a lot like heroin or any other addictive substance. The first taste gives you an incredible feeling that you never, ever want to end. But the more you do it, you need ever-larger fixes to produce that same feeling. Eventually, you’re a junkie that’s just shooting up to avoid withdrawal systems.

At some point, we all build up certain tolerances–psychological, neurological and psychological tolerances. I hit a wall years ago. But I got around it by expanding my musical horizons. I found new dopamine rushes in new genres and new sounds.

And I’ll admit it. When I need musical comfort food, I will retreat to the music of those high school and university years. I will never, ever tire of it.

So dude, quit your self-centered hipster whining. Man up. You’re just bored. Go outside and play. Find a new hobby. Get a dog.

And don’t worry about rock, indie or otherwise. It’ll continue to exist without you. Music is (and always will be) a cyclical self-renewing system. And I guarantee you this: there’s an entire cohort of fans right behind you that think that today’s indie scene (which, as one commentor points out below is really about independent-minded artists) is the best ever. Like I said, every generation has their right to think so.

And please, dispense with the bullshit grammar and spelling. It just dates you.

PS: I just thought of something. Could it be that you’re bored of the indie scene because you and other bloggers inadvertently declared that indie had a certain sound/aesthetic/fashion? If so, then you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. (See “independent-minded” comment below.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

15 thoughts on “Blogger Declares “Indie Is Dead.” I Say “Bullshit.”

  • October 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm
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    Well said, Alan. I couldn't read more than a few sentences of that guy's pretentious drivel. I, too, felt a bit of musical ennui near the end of the nineties but fought through it.

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm
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    Pink sunglasses = hipster? I'm out of the loop. And you know what? I don't mind 😉

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm
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    Was 'indie' ever a genre of music to start with – it never really was a descriptive term for the type of music played, thus always open to marketing abuse for artists who wanted to jump on the bandwagon & follow 'the Indie rules'.Indie music has certainly changed since it first got associated with a vague form of music played.Can Indie-disco (Hot Chip etc.) seriously be associated with the initial phase of Indie.
    As far as I'm concerned 'Indie' basically died around 1992 as a cohesive movement, shortly after Nirvana co-oped with the Majors.A survey recently conducted found out that 70% of Indie artist's were actively courting the Major labels – is that in the spirit of the initial 'Indie' spirit, never mind the so called 'Corporate Indie' bands & artists.Becoming more commercially minded is not 'growing up'.The Indie movement in the '80's / early '90's co-existed in a time & place, just like any other artistic movement.Generations always bring along attitude change.Todays Indie has basically been hijacked by this new generation or commercially exploited on the other hand.
    So called Indie these days has certainly evolved – we're into a different generation of Indie listeners these days.Teenagers / early 20 somethings have been brought up in a 'market society'.They see 'Indie' as just another 'brand'.The early Indie artists motivation were against the branding of music at all.In this case Indie has evolved into something of paradoxical opposition to the initial movement.
    Indie has basically lost a cohesive meaning (never was a genre).Long live Independant (minded) music.Music that has to conform to (paradoxical indie) rules will never be that any more.

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm
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    At 20 we were tired. Tired of music. The thing that had punctuated the up and down, the ins and outs, the ebbs and flows, of our messy lives. We were not being gloomy. But we wondered when pop stopped feeling dangerous, when it lost the edge, the risk, the nonsense, the importance, when did it abandon our most accessible art form. When did the domination of low-fi authenticity occur, when did the worthy mumblers pad into pole position – whist us children of the revolution trudged through the electronic bleepsscapes to find our soundtrack. But we're not being gloomy, we're too young too moan. We've been proactive, we're seen the problem and we've made the solution. Like The Jam before us, we've made ourselves, and by chance, and like the alienated ones before, we accidentally ended us making the sounds that chime with our peers. bentcousin are awake.

    We've not come to change nothing, but simply to ignore banality and the lo-fi used to sell hi-fi's and recognise that we can do what the fuck we like, that we can make reality up, and bum our own aunts.

    bentcousin are awake.

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm
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    You are aware that hipster runoff is archly satirical don't you?

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  • October 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm
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    Dude…. Hipster Runoff is a parody website….. You do know that, right?!?!!

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  • October 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm
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    Whilst the points you're making are essentially timeless in their correctness, Hipster Runoff is usually satirising Hipster culture and playing with people's perceptions of today's Hipster culture, although with things the way they are on the internet it certainly dances the line between spoof and being taken completely at face value by many 'in the scene'.

    That's one of the fundamental problems with a music and fashion culture that prides itself on irony and nostalgia as a major component – where does spoof begin and where does it end?

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm
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    Ummm…Hipster Runoff is an ironic, tongue-in-cheek send-up of music blogs. I think you've missed the joke.

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  • October 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm
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    good job on taking HR at face value

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  • October 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm
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    Uh, yeah. But this wasn't written with satire in mind. Did you read the original article? It's a think piece that doesn't contain a drip of satire. If it was meant that way,it was badly, badly done.

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm
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    So the joke was…?

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm
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    Yeah, but where's the satire/parody/joke in this post?

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  • October 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm
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    I think you've nailed it there yourself, the fact that it's even presented as a "think-piece". The whole thing was a joke! Look at the image macro on top, that should've been the clue not to take anything therein seriously! Badly done satire it may be, that's your opinion, but make no mistake about it, it's definitely satire!

    Reply
  • October 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm
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    I can sum up the root of the article in 4 words–he's just getting old.

    Reply
  • October 8, 2012 at 7:14 am
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    Irony you say, never heard of it – gosh you middle aged, middle class media types are so sophisticated – we can only dream to be like you when we grow up.

    BC

    Reply

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