On The State of Indie Music Scene: Don’t Worry, the Kids Are Alright
by Maria Romero, February 08, 2019 2:08pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
It’s easier to say the Philippine independent music scene is barely hanging on than convince people it's thriving even if nothing seems constant. But what’s the state of our music scene? Is it getting better with time or worse? Let’s confront this relentless question with fresh eyes.
The thin line between mainstream and indie was not solidly defined yet since the era of pre-Spotify, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud. Artists backed by giant labels in media once dominated our music scene for years. But luckily, technology paved the way for grass-roots musicians to share their music, too. Artists who have materials—recorded in a dingy or state-of-the-art studio—now have easy access to streaming platforms. So, what made it to our current playlist aren't just the same old songs by television actors turned pop stars, but by striving independent and underground musicians.
The development of technology and the convenience that comes with social media are sweet music to the ears of aspiring musicians who want to expand their audience. These technological changes in the music industry have prompted musicians and even the listening public to incessantly adapt.
One of the apparent reasons why the music scene is triumphantly progressing is that music managements and even record labels have changed the way they play the game. Instead of making ends meet to make and sell records, they invest more in actual artist management because, well, “woke” supports “woke.” Artists on another hand, go to small or even home studios to record their songs, promote it through social media, and release it on streaming platforms even without official record label. They focus more on the digital release of their songs or albums rather than the launch of the physical copies because of the meager return value of producing physical releases. And on the side of all these changes are artists collaborating with their fellow artists making the whole indie scene a huge web of connections.
If we look closely at this intricate web of creative people, the number of individuals and groups departing from the norm is overwhelming. Gone are the days when all we hear are songs about love and heartbreaks. Today, we can even listen to songs that also talk about important social issues, mental health, work and life balance, and even a superficial topic like grammar. And the best thing about all these modernizations are gig-goers who unconditionally support the artists and musicians. Sold out local shows drives this point home. The fans' support is the lifeline of our music scene.
Indie isn’t just a colloquial term we used to describe the hipster district. It’s more of a realm that breaks standards and democratizes technology and art of music-making to produce a new breed of music.
So, if anyone asks you the same question of whether our indie music scene is in the right direction or not, let the response be: “Yes. It's getting better because I have been making simple gestures to uplift it. I hope you do the same.”