Once the progressive and non-commercial pop music were the domains of independent labels with the ‘do it yourself’ mentality. But due to the recent popularity of groups such as Nirvana and Sonic Youth, even multinational record companies now see “alternative” rock as a good investment. Can a dependent group still be alternative enough? “What will Sony be happy with?”
Alternative Music in Pop Genre
In pop music, the boundaries between “commercial” and “alternative” have faded in recent years. Commercial is no longer automatically an indication for streamlined top 40 music, and alternative does not necessarily mean un-saleable. There is the spectacular success of the un-adapted guitar trio Nirvana from Seattle, who sold seven million copies of their CD ‘Never mind’, and the great public interest in the American Lollapalooza Tour. On this tour, which was first held a year ago and is repeated this year, various bands, formerly regarded as avant-garde and non-commercial, play for sold-out stadiums? The result of this is that, for example, the Henry Rollins Band and Nine Inch Nails saw their popularity and sales figures rise noticeably in the past year, as this year will undoubtedly apply to Ministry and Lush.
How the Pop Industry Welcomed It
In the pop industry, “commercial” was always synonymous with the production methods of multinational record companies such as Sony Music, Warner, Virgin, and the David Geffen Company, and alternative music belonged to the “independent” labels, the small record companies that had managed to acquire their own position with limited budgets and a flexible approach in the shadow of these giants. It was no coincidence that these companies were created at the same time as the punk movement. “Do it Yourself” was one of the slogans of punk, an encouragement to release the music with minimal means, which the big companies felt too risky due to the controversial nature or non-commercial sound. Independent labels such as Factory, Stiff or Rough Trade had shown that the big money of the multinational companies is not a condition for the success of a band, so the small companies developed into an alternative to the established companies, and like successful film makers like Jim Jarmusch prefer it to produce their films outside of Hollywood, there are bands that prefer the way the small companies operate rather than the “majors.”
The Netherlands also has independent labels. Record company De Konkurrent is located in a former squat in Amsterdam. The Konkurrent releases records from the Dutch Ex and from American groups such as Fugazi and Victims Family, and the distribution of various small labels from abroad is also taken care of. Hetty Zwart is one of the founders. “Independent once meant: independent of the majors,” says Zwart, “but in the meantime, many independent societies function as mini-versions of the major record companies. For us, independent mentality refers to a way of working: “independent of the goal of making a profit.” We do not contract a band because we think we will sell a lot of records, but because we think their music is worth it. ”
In England “independent” has become an indication for a kind of music as well as a way of producing: “independent” stands for production and the abbreviation “indie” means the type of music. A band that makes indie music can be contracted Indie is the kind of music that is written about in music magazines such as New Musical Express and Melody Maker.