Indie Take Over

So is it finally happening? The Indie uprise we've heard about for so many years? The seismic shift in the music industry? Don't know what I'm talking about? OK, read on.

Stormzy may be a new name to some people reading this, but to others, we've watched his career with interest and in my case, with an amount of excitement. You see, Stormzy has been doing it for himself, making some bold decisions and turning a lot of heads.

Like Chance The Rapper, Stormzy is an independent artist. He has no backing of a major label which isn't just about the amount of money he has behind him, but the amount of influence and sway (also another rapper :) ) major labels can provide artists. It's no big secret that the majors are in with the right people, you just need to listen to the radio, watch TV, read the newspapers or magazines, even look at the playlists of streaming services to know they've got all the right people in all the right places.

In 2014 after releasing his first EP, Stormzy won a MOBO for Best Grime Act. 2015 he was third in the BBC Introducing top 5, this was on Radio 1 folks, his track then debuted at #18 in the UK singles chart. Last year AIM gave Stormzy the Innovator award and this year, after appearing on stage at the Brit Awards with none of than Ed Sheeran, he has scored a number one album.

Can I just reiterate, he's done all this as an independent artist.

The Long And Winding Road
IMO it's taken a surprising amount of time. You see, when Napster first hit the headlines in 1999 and started desecrating the music industry, there was a strong belief that the industry as we know it was dead. The retaliation of the music industry was clearly the wrong move, instead of focusing on utilising new technologies, the focus was on law suits. Technology won.

A New Medium
Of course it wasn't just Napster which was changing the landscape, the internet itself was opening up new possibilities and seemingly making the world a smaller place.

Those old enough may remember as it was back then. For those who don't, it was kind of like Bandcamp, Last.FM, ReverbNation etc. One of the main differences was that it paid artists, yep that's right, it PAID artists for plays! Amazing eh? There were people making a living from!

1997 was launched, 2 years before Napster was upsetting the majors. People had a new and exciting outlet for their music and artists used it, in their droves. And I guess this was one of the problems and probably, largely still is. There is such a glut of music, how on earth do you find something you like? It's a real needle in a haystack situation. I remember at the time overhearing a conversation where one artist was asking another how to get a record deal, the other said, “You don't chase them. You put your music online and they come to you”.

Tunecore started in 2005 and all of a sudden things changed again. For the first time ever, independent artists were able to get their music into online retailers such as iTunes and Amazon. Then in 2007 things changed again when the UK chart rules were changed meaning singles could chart without having a physical copy. With the help of manager Gary Raymond (RIP) the rock band Koopa made history this year by being the first band to make the UK Single Chart on downloads alone, they were also on the independent label Pied Piper Records.

And Now
And there we go, I've finally got to the point of all this. When was released the landscape of the music industry was about to change. It took a further 10 years for a “digital” single to chart and yet another 10 years for Stormzy to make history.

20 years!

But you know what? We're finally here. It has finally happened. Just look at the artists doing it for themselves. With the aid of social media and Youtube, artists such as Road Trip and Joey Devries are doing it for themselves, independently, without the mighty push of the majors, without national radio or TV exposure.

It's a brand new world and I think thanks to trailblazers like Stormzy, artists all over the world are opening up their eyes and discovering what they can achieve for themselves.