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What is INDIE?


This is a documentary made by Canadian David Cool of Stand Alone Records. I first started writing the review after I'd only seen the main feature, and at that point, I wasn't yet too impressed. After watching for 30 minutes, I realized that I didn't think the core question was really that important, and that the definition should have been covered a lot more quickly.

But it raised other questions, which deserved some time, here are a few:

1. Where is the music business going, and how is it going to get there?
2. How does a musician actually become an effective indie artist?
3. Does an artist need a label anymore, and if so, why?

As it turned out, a lot of these questions (and others) were covered, at least in part, in the "extra features" in the menu of Disc One. (Disc Two is a compilation CD.) After watching every bit of everything on Disc One, I think that this is a documentary well worth watching, for any musicians who are indie-inclined. Maybe even for a diehard audience that is indie-inclined. For the general public, less so. As a documentary, it's got a very amateur vibe--it's the message that matters. The camera work is not very good, neither is the lighting. And the audio is only fair. But none of that got in the way of my enjoying it.

I was impressed by the business people in the film much more than by the musicians; only a few of them made the path of making a living at being an indie musician credible, (or interesting) in my opinion. The business people however, made it seem not only credible, but inviting, empowering. In particular, Derek Sivers (founder of CDBaby: 118,000 clients, $22 million in payouts to Indie musicians) and Peter Spellman (Music Business Solutions) were really cogent and inspiring in everything they had to say. We've always regarded Sivers as the most important person in the Indie movement, and his right-sizedness in the face of his success we always find refreshing. His comments about things are down to earth and on the money. We also were very excited by the insights of author and consultant Tim Sweeney in "special bonus footage," fantastic stuff. There were a number of other very sharp business contributors, but those were the highlights for this reviewer.

Taken as a whole, this is a valuable and entertaining documentary from David Cool (his real name) and we highly recommend it. • Frank Goodman

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