The Evolution Of Indie Music

Our day begins with the melody of different sounds. Be it the singing of the birds or ringing of our alarms. As we grab that first cup of coffee, we unknowingly start singing along with the song on the radio. Music has been breaking the language barrier for years. Right from Mozart and Beethoven in the 18th century, Michael Jackson in the 90s to Eminem in recent times, the music industry witnessed many iconic artists and bands. Over time a lot of new genres gained popularity. All the genres resemble their local culture and ethnicity. Evolution of society is also reflected in its music. We might as well say that music has become a culture of its own.

the smiths

Music has been a part of every culture. Records show that music existed in the pre-literate era as well. Even today music is not confined by the language barrier, be it Asian, African, or European. 

The roots of Indie music go back to the 60s and that’s where music found its one of the most authentic genres. Indie Music, the word in itself means Independent Music which implies independence of the art, the artist, and the ethnicity of the culture. The music created under the Indie genre gives absolute freedom to the artist’s choice of expression. The connectivity with the audience gets strengthened.

The Smiths


 Indie music in itself has so many diverse genres be it Indie pop, rock or even Indie classical music. Indie brought up Folk music from different parts of the world. Indie as a separate genre was largely recognized in the 80s and the 90s. It was commonly accepted as an “alternative music” genre. Indie as a term is derived from the word independent.  The probable reason that indie became so well known was the independence that artists got while creating music. The authenticity of an artist is portrayed here. In the mid-80s people recognized indie as bands like The Smiths in the UK and Sonic Youth in the USA started creating music. This was mostly an Indie rock, post-punk, and rock band era. Indie created space for upcoming authentic artists.

sonic youth

 The distinct feature that separates indie music from other genres is its authenticity and aesthetic direction of compositions. The wave of Indie music took a while to hit the Southeast Asian countries. Indie music began to gain recognition and forced the audience to reconsider their choices. This caught the attention of mainstream commercial labels and music producers. The “aesthetics” of indie music attracted lots of celebrated names from the music industry. Over time Indie artists who worked with these commercial labels have managed to negotiate and preserve the legitimacy of their music. On the contrary, some artists gave up Indie and went on to pursue a career in the commercial section. 

Indie music has given us some great bands, individual artists, and even some iconic duos. In the years of origin, Indie pop-rock bands were the ones who set a benchmark and diverted the attention of the people from mainstream music. Bands like The Smiths, Guided by Voices, Sonic Youth, and even The Replacements are some of the most Iconic Indie bands of all time. R.E.M. catered to a young college-going audience. They set up the roots of their fanbase by airing their music on college radios. Arctic Monkeys create some of the most trending songs in recent times. Every song by Mumford & Sons is a delight to our ears. 


Even if the popularity of Indie Bands has shot through the roof, the Solo and Duo artists have given us some of the best indie music of all time. MGMT is undisputedly one of the best duo artists in the psychedelic rock genre. 


Cults is again a duo who creates magic on stage and in their songs. The range of solo indie artists is just unreal. During his time Brendan Benson portrayed indie music in its most genuine form. Today as the whole world is embracing Indie music we have artists Kishi Bashi, Prateek Kuhad, and many more Solo artists. 


Indie Music

India has a rich history of folk music. Indie music in India gained a considerable audience in the past 3-4 years. Prateek Kuhad is one of the biggest solo Indie artists alongside Ankur Tewari, Mali, Nucleya, and many more young talents in India.

 Indian bands have gained popularity on a very large scale. Bands like The local train, Parvaaz, and When Chai met Toast are mesmerizing their audience with constant hit tracks. They are selling out arenas and are counted in some of the best performing artists in the country.




Back in the day, the availability of Indie music was sort of confined in geographical boundaries. Back in the day pre-booking records and getting our hands on the cassettes was a task. If we go back in time about 20 years or so, downloading music was an absolute task. Access to international music was very difficult, International Indie and regional music were out of the question. But now we probably have access to art and music of the remotest region all over the world. Just a few years ago ‘Streaming music’ was an alien concept to most of us. Today everyone with a smartphone can use streaming platforms and gets their hands on the latest music worldwide. 


Mumford and Sons
 MUMFORD AND SONS (image source:

The pull on my flesh is just too strong

It stifles the choice and the air in my lungs

Better not to breathe than breathe a lie

When I open my body and breathe alive

I will not speak of your sin

There was no way out for him

The mirror shows now

Your values are all shot~

Broken Crown (Mumford &Son)

Liked this piece? Also read: Music Listening: Then and Now.

Swara Garge
Swara Garge

This article was written by Swara who is currently an intern via Escribo. You may reach out to her through Instagram.

2 thoughts

    1. Ya! they deserve a mention in Indie Music, undoubtedly. But this article is about Indie Music as a form of music rather than an article on individual artists. BTW thanks for taking out time to read our article and provide us with your valuable suggestion.

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