Well thats all well and good but we still don't know what musical characteristic describe it. The truth is, there really aren't any. Indie can range in sound from bubble-gum pop to upbeat alternative rock to even progressive artsy pieces of music.
Artists signed to independent record labels are not for the most part as popular or successful as "mainstream" artists signed to major labels. So why would and artist want to sign to an indie label rather than a major label? Indie artists tend to care more about to quality of there music rather than making money or being famous. Also, it is well known that major labels will try to "control" an artist and make them produce what the label thinks will sell rather than what the artists wants to put out. Independent label tend to be more layed back and allow the artist to produce music however they want.
A Short History of Indie:
Indie labels have existed in the United states ever since the early 50's and were modderatly successful. Around the same time in the UK however things were quite different. The major labels held tight grasps on nearly every artist, so it was difficult for any indie labels to exist. All of this changed however in the seventies with the rise of punk rock. Hundreds of labels were founded in both the UK and the US to accommodate all of these new acts. The indie scene exploded again in the late 80s to early 90s with the invention of grunge. Today, indie music is center stage again with the mainstream success of the internet. It is now easier than ever for the labels to distribute there music with the dawn of music stores such as I-tunes and Rhapsody. Blogs and podcast have also done a lot for the spread of the indie genre.
Many artist have taken it a step further by not signing with a label at all. By solely distributing their music through the internet they mange to establish a fan base while not having to pay royalties to any company. These bands use popular websites such as Myspace, atristshare, or even last.fm to promote themselves. [To be continued]