Is it pretentious to be Indie?

The stigma has been going on for years, but should it really exist?

The stigma behind indie music has been ongoing for years but no one truly understands why it exists. Fans are often shunned for their taste in music as they are often told that they are 'snobbish', ‘pretentious’ and told that they aren’t true fans to the bands that they listen to.

Indie music is the term used to define independent music artists who music produced independently from commercial record labels or their subsidiaries. The fans of this particular area of music are often referred to as pretentious for being the ‘I-liked-them-before-they-went-mainstream’ type of fan base.

In a way, you can’t coin all indie fans together as they are part of a fanbase that doesn’t follow one particular genre of music. Indie music is made up of artists who don’t have the support of a mainstream producer, which can mean there are artists of all genres and styles involved. How can you label all indie fans as pretentious when they may all be following different styles of music?

This fan base appears to be made up primarily of the ‘hipster’ stereotype. A ‘hipster’ is defined as a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream. This idea begs the question, are they really a fan of a band they listen to if they live life jumping from trend to trend? They must never want the bands they follow to ‘blow up’ and become widely successful and popular, which must be part of the reason why this culture is looked down on so much as most fans would want success for the bands they follow. I can imagine that genuine support is better than having fans disappear once everyone starts listening to you.

Digital Music News is extremely guilty for this ‘pretentious’ attitude towards artists gaining success. They have published articles that have shunned independent artists for ‘selling out’ and saying that it is cheapening indie music because they are being recognised for the adverts that they have produced jingles for.

These bands don’t have the support that other bands get through record labels so they need to find other ways to further their careers. If they want to be recognised, it shouldn’t matter if they are achieving that through adverts or through other means.

Why are they seen this way though? Why can’t people just like whatever music they want to and not be judged? The horrible part of society is that they are going to judge you for every little thing that you say you like or whatever stereotype of society that you conform to. There always seems to be a problem with it somewhere.

In a recent Twitter poll, we conducted we found that more than half the people we asked had been called pretentious for being ‘indie’. But are they really, or is this just another label placed on them by society?

Indie music fan, Maya Kubisa said: "I’ve been called a pretentious indie a lot before but I’m not too sure why. I’ve never considered myself to be just because I like a certain genre of music. I don’t think it’s fair to put people into boxes and label people pretentious for liking a certain genre of music".

Although, there are fans out there who seemed to be bothered by the titles given to them. Not every fan is bothered by it.

Another fan on Twitter, called J. Simpson replied to the poll saying: “I have been called pretentious for it many time. I personally am calling for more pretentiousness in culture!”

More pretentiousness in culture? Could this be a good thing? I suppose pretentious behaviour can show that the person is passionate about what they are following. Every artist deserves fans who are passionate about their work.

The truth is there is pretentiousness across all genres of music. Rock/Metal has those fans who won’t like one band so they will put down anyone who does. There are people who like Pop music who only like an artist’s older work… like those people who liked Lady Gaga before Artpop and Joanne, or everyone who preferred Taylor Swift’s folksy sound above her new-found pop stardom… and let’s not talk about everyone’s attitude towards Miley Cyrus for showing the world that she had grown up following her career on Hannah Montana!

Pretentiousness in this context isn’t pretentiousness at all… it’s preference. People can be a fan of whatever they want. It is not down to anyone to judge them for that. Taste in music is a personal thing and in a lot of ways it can show you what kind of person they are. If they are a little bit of a music snob, don’t see it as a bad thing, see it as them being passionate about music. If they only listen to a band before they have reached the height of success, that’s okay too. Someone has to support the bands who haven’t reached the big labels yet.

Fans need to understand that artists are just like regular people. They are going to grow and change. This doesn’t make them any less talented than what they were in the beginning and just because they start earning more money doesn’t mean that they don’t still need your support or that money is all they are striving towards. You don’t have to like everything they do and not everyone is going to like what you like. Music taste is a personal preference, there’s nothing pretentious about that.


Header photo credit: Pecas by Zach M Anderson